On a day – Halloween – in which people pretend to be what they’re not, one year ago Jordan Peterson, the University of Toronto champion of free speech, told a TV panel of critics that he would not pretend – even before the Ontario Human Rights Commission – to use politically-correct transgender pronouns like zir and xe even under threat of fines, jail, and job loss just so that students and staff could pretend to be other than male or female.
Is a clay pot coated with a thin veneer of silver still a clay pot?
Is that trick-or-treater at your door really a supervillain or just the kid from down the street?
If you want something so desperately to be real that you’re willing to pay an astronomical sum to obtain and display it, is it still a forgery upon closer scrutiny?
In J. Paul Getty’s catalogue of its museum pieces there’s a notation alongside a picture of a statue the once excited curators had purchased for just shy of $10M. That notation, that asterisk, is but two words: “modern forgery.” At the time Getty was “a young museum, eager to build a world-class collection, and this statue was such an extraordinary find that its experts were blinded to their instincts,” writes Malcolm Gladwell in his book “Blink.”
Getty so “desperately wanted the statue to be real” they declared it was. But, upon further review, turns out it wasn’t.
Truth is not what we want it to be. Believability is not determined by popularity. Fact is separated from fiction even in the library.
Children can be distinguished from goblins even as statesmen are cut from a different cloth than politicians.
Actors who win Oscars are still actors.
In a world of make belief (Halloween) and made-to-believe (Ontario Human Rights Commission) kudos to those like Peterson who know – and stand up for – the difference.