Jordan Peterson’s Courageous Defense of Freedom

By John Carpay, B.A., LL.B. – The National Post

Jordan Peterson has been selected to receive the 2023 George Jonas Freedom Award from the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms because of his exceptional contributions to Canada as a free society.

Peterson’s courage and tenacity were on full display on January 3, when he shared with the world that the College of Psychologists of Ontario (CPO) had demanded that he submit to mandatory social media retraining, or face a disciplinary hearing.

Fast-forward to March. Millions of Canadians and other supporters throughout the world have expressed their anger towards the CPO’s unjust attempt at censorship. Peterson stands strong, stating that the CPO “have already exceeded their own deadline with respect to this matter. Despite repeated attempts on the part of my lawyers to proceed they are delaying … they hope people will forget.”

Canadians, however, will not forget Peterson’s courage, as he gives hope to the many other Canadians who face similar sanctions, threats and bullying from bloated, woke and power-hungry bureaucracies. This is an important reminder for all Canadians to continue to stand up to over-reach on the part of governments and professional organizations.
This is what the George Jonas Freedom Award is all about: encouraging Canadians to defend their free society, and to reverse Canada’s descent into tyranny.

An author, poet, journalist and National Post columnist, George Jonas (1935-2016) made significant contributions to freedom in Canada, after escaping from communist Hungary in 1956. Jonas experienced life under both Stalinist communism, as well as the pro-Nazi Hungarian fascist regime during the Second World War. The Justice Centre inaugurated this annual award in 2018, to carry on Jonas’ important legacy and to highlight the impact that one individual can make in defence of a free society.

Jonas recognized the importance of each individual, having seen first-hand the dangers of collectivist ideologies that require individuals to submit mindlessly to state edicts and pretend to support utopian plans and projects. Whether the “public interest” was Stalin’s communist workers’ paradise, or Hitler’s racially pure 1,000-year Reich, totalitarianism crushes the individual’s freedoms of speech, conscience, religion, association, movement, peaceful assembly and the right to own and enjoy the fruits of one’s labours.

The crucial importance of individuals, and of the moral choices that each person makes, is illustrated by the story of how the Jonas family was rescued from persecution and likely death in Budapest in 1944. Being Jewish, the Jonas family sought to go into hiding temporarily while awaiting the forged identity documents they needed to survive the remainder of the war.

As George Jonas recounted it, his father sought help from their cosmopolitan, enlightened and unprejudiced friends. His father stated, “I know dozens of people in this city … I’ve done business with them. I served with some in the army, I was a guest at their clubs and I hosted dinner parties for them in my home. They’re not all antisemites, you know.”
But in the tense days that followed, the Jonas family was severely disappointed in the cowardice of their liberal gentile friends, who dared go no further than wishing the family luck.

George Jonas’ father phoned a casual business acquaintance with the last name Gervay, who happened to be an antisemite. Mr. Gervay agreed to take the Jonas family into hiding, thereby risking his own family while helping to save the Jonases.

Mr. Gervay had his own prejudices, but he also had certain standards. As a Christian and a man of conscience, he drew the line at the Ten Commandments, and would not stand by while Jews were rounded up and murdered. And so the Jonas family escaped likely death by finding refuge in the home of an antisemite.

I once heard George Jonas explain that we should not bother trying to eliminate prejudices from the human heart, mind and spirit, because trying to change human nature is futile. Rather than teaching people to refrain from disliking certain groups, we should instead teach people to refrain from killing those whom they dislike.

Peterson continues to defend the pillars of the free society, including personal responsibility and freedom of expression. In 2016, he famously stood up to intimidation and “forced speech” when pressured to use newly invented personal pronouns.

He has repeatedly displayed significant courage in the face of adversity, and perseverance in the face of ongoing, unjustified attacks against his character and reputation. The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is honoured to have Peterson accept this award at our sixth-annual dinner in Toronto this June.

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