Jordan Peterson, a clinical psychologist and self-proclaimed bestselling author, went on trial this summer after his professional regulator, the College of Psychologists of Ontario (CPO), sanctioned him after receiving various complaints about public comments he made on social media had media and in an interview he gave on the Joe Rogan Podcast.
The CPO directed Peterson to complete a public speaking professionalism remedial program that many refer to as “social media training.” Peterson refused to comply, claiming on social media that the CPO was violating his freedom of speech.
Peterson asked the Superior Court of Justice for judicial review of the decision before a three-judge panel. His case was dismissed and Peterson was ordered to pay $25,000 in costs to the college. Peterson has publicly denounced the court decision.
In Peterson’s case, it’s not about free speech at all. It is extremely sad that Canada is portrayed as a country that maintains arbitrary censorship of its citizens.
Peterson is a regulated worker, along with tens of millions of nurses, doctors, teachers, engineers, lawyers and other healthcare professionals. Regulated professions have codes of conduct that we all have to agree to in order to enter the profession. Peterson agreed to all the codes of conduct the CPO required of him when he became a psychologist.
Codes of conduct typically require employees to maintain a certain level of professionalism. This is common not just for regulated workers, but for many workers. Peterson agreed, as part of the CPO’s Code of Conduct, to “refrain from publicly engaging in degrading comments about others” and to “strive to use language that, in all spoken, written, electronic, or public conversations, is as respectful as possible.” of the dignity of persons and peoples.” Printed communication.” He may not like it now, but he agreed.
I’ve written many articles about how using social media outside of work hours can destroy careers. In 2021, there was an instance where BC employees were seen partying maskless during a COVID-19 lockdown, which was promptly ended. There was the manager of a golf course in Etobicoke who was caught on video using racial slurs and who was also later fired.
It’s nothing new for employers to frown on their employees’ online exploitation. It is often alleged that employee behavior or language violates a code of conduct. Didn’t these employees also express themselves freely?
It’s no surprise that a psychologist must maintain a certain level of professionalism when presenting himself as an expert to the world.
While I disagree with Peterson that his case involves his right to freedom of expression, his case raises an important point about the dangers of over-regulation.
It may appear that the sanction imposed on Peterson is lenient, but if Peterson implements the remedial program ordered by the CPO, it will be publicly noted in his CPO files. If he refuses the training, the next step would be discipline. In any case, the implications are serious.
And while Peterson isn’t the perfect victim, being too bold and controversial on the outside and a lay professional at that, there’s no denying that his content is being tenaciously followed and watched by millions of people for free. There are many who report that they have received some benefit from the content Peterson has produced.
Many professionals use social media to connect with potential clients and new audiences. They discuss the news, debate topics and create content for hours. Many share intimate aspects of their lives in order to build online personalities, which is increasingly important as many professional services are now only offered virtually.
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Social media is greatly enriched by content created by professionals for free consumption. Giving regulators a precedent to analyze online content created by professionals and then impose potentially severe sanctions is alarming and must be done sparingly.
Gone are the days when professionals can ignore the critical business imperative of having a strong online presence with robust and up-to-date online content. For most industries, it is a means of survival. Peterson’s court decision will cause professionals to question their own content creation, which provides the general public with some free access to much-needed information.
The encroachment of professional regulation on the online world must be kept to a minimum.
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The content of this article is for general information only and does not constitute legal advice.
https://torontosun.com/opinion/columnists/chaudhri-jordan-petersons-case-presents-issues-all-professionals-need-to-consider CHAUDHRI: The Peterson case raises issues that professionals should consider