It could be called a clash of the intellectual titans.
The Munk Debates, a series of highbrow discussions surrounding the most heady subjects confronting the world today, are both popular and highly esteemed. Perhaps one of the most controversial Munk Debates since the inception of the charitable event took place last night at the Roy Thomson Hall in the city of Toronto, Canada.
The motion for the evening was very clear and unambiguous in its wording.
“Be it resolved, what you call political correctness, I call progress…”
Supporting this statement from the pro side were Dr. Michael Eric Dyson and Michelle Goldberg. Dr. Dyson is a public intellectual reputed for his output in the realm of race relations in the United States; Michelle Goldberg has been a writer for The Daily Beast, The New York Times, and The Nation.
Squaring off against them in opposition to the notion that political correctness is a positive and progressive force in society were Dr. Jordan B. Peterson and Stephen Fry. Fry, of course, is a famous English comedian and activist with an established love for the verboten, and Dr. Jordan Peterson is a man on a meteoric rise to fame after opposing a demand to comply with compelled speech as it pertained to gender pronouns in addition to holding a post as a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto.
The debate proper was vigorous and at many points, heated. Dr. Dyson and Goldberg tag-teamed Dr. Peterson in particular, alluding to him and his philosophy not living “in the real world,” while Peterson quickly retorted that though he did not appreciate the personal attacks – his examples given for collective guilt and the assigning thereof in the 20th century, namely the Holocaust and the horrors of Axis fascism – were very much rooted in the real. Many more of these barbed exchanges took place, with Fry supporting Peterson from the wings with acerbic wit and trademark humor driving home the point that political correctness was a restrictive intellectual force and an authoritarian philosophy writ large.
At the end of the day, Peterson and Fry were crowned the victors of the question, gaining 6 percent of the audience support from their opponents. The Munk Debate Facebook page posted the results to great acclaim from social media users, most of whom ridiculed the performance by Dyson and Goldberg as having been deeply superficial with frequent and irrelevant ad hominem arguments against Peterson.
Previous topics that have been covered include whether the election of Donald Trump to the American presidency and his subsequent term of office has placed the United States in a mode of crisis (Newt Gingrich and Kimberley Strassel defeated this notion in debate against Andrew Sullivan and his partner E.J. Dionne Jr) as well as a broader question of whether the human race has brighter days ahead – Steven Pinker and Matt Riddley successfully defended this idea contra Alain de Botton and Malcolm Gladwell.