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Staff at Jordan Peterson's publisher protest new book plans

Alison Flood
·3-min read
<span>Photograph: Chris Williamson/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Chris Williamson/Getty Images

The announcement of a new book from Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson, the self-styled “professor against political correctness”, has prompted dozens of complaints from staff at his publisher in Canada, according to a report.

Vice’s story on Tuesday said that the announcement of Peterson’s forthcoming Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life, a follow-up to his global bestseller 12 Rules for Life, prompted “several” staff at Penguin Random House Canada (PRH Canada) to confront management. Peterson’s views on subjects including transgender rights, gender and race have been controversial. Last year, Cambridge University rescinded its offer of a visiting fellowship to Peterson following criticism from faculty and students. Also in 2019, 12 Rules for Life was temporarily pulled from sale in a New Zealand book chain after the terrorist attack on a Christchurch mosque, over perceived links between Peterson’s fanbase and Islamophobia.

Related: Jordan Peterson: ‘The pursuit of happiness is a pointless goal’

At a PRH Canada town hall meeting on Monday, one employee told Vice, “people were crying about how Jordan Peterson has affected their lives”. PRH Canada’s diversity and inclusion committee reportedly received at least 70 anonymous messages about Peterson’s book from staff, with only “a couple” in favour of the decision to publish.

In response, PRH Canada told Vice that it “immediately” held the forum after announcing its plans to publish Beyond Order and “provided a space for our employees to express their views and offer feedback”.

The publisher’s statement said: “Our employees have started an anonymous feedback channel, which we fully support. We are open to hearing our employees’ feedback and answering all of their questions. We remain committed to publishing a range of voices and viewpoints.”

Peterson’s daughter Mikhaila tweeted a link to the Vice article. “How to improve business in 2 steps: Step 1: identify crying adults. Step 2: fire,” she wrote. “If you don’t think adults willing to cry to get their way in a workplace is a problem … you’re clearly not in charge of many people.”

Peterson’s Beyond Order, which is due out in March, promises to deliver “12 more lifesaving principles for resisting the exhausting toll that our desire to order the world inevitably takes”.

“In a time when the human will increasingly imposes itself over every sphere of life – from our social structures to our emotional states – Peterson warns that too much security is dangerous,” says the publisher. “What’s more, he offers strategies for overcoming the cultural, scientific, and psychological forces causing us to tend toward tyranny, and teaches us how to rely instead on our instinct to find meaning and purpose, even – and especially – when we find ourselves powerless.”

The Guardian understands that no staff at PRH in the UK have complained about the decision to publish Peterson again.

The protests in Canada over Peterson’s book follow Hachette’s decision to drop Woody Allen’s memoir after a staff walkout, and reports that staff at JK Rowling’s publisher in the UK were told they could not refuse to work on her new children’s book The Ickabog because they disagreed with her views on transgender rights.