In a recent appearance on the “Joe Rogan Experience,” clinical psychologist and speaker Jordan B. Peterson announced that he is pursuing an official objection under Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms to the College of Psychologists (CoP) of Ontario’s requirement that he undergo “social media training” in order to retain his professional license to see and treat patients.
Peterson is the latest, most high-profile instance of healthcare professionals being threatened with punishment — up to the loss of their license to practice — for going against government-approved “science” or for criticizing woke orthodoxy.
In March, the CoP, which acts as the licensing board for psychologists in the province of Ontario, began investigating complaints against Peterson over his social media posts and other appearances. In November, the CPO demanded that Peterson undergo the training, stating:
“In a decision released on November 22, 2022, the Inquiries, Complaints, and Reports Committee decided to require Dr. Jordan Peterson to successfully complete a prescribed Specified Continuing Education or Remedial Program (SCERP). The substance of the SCERP is a Coaching Program to address issues regarding professionalism in public statements.”
Peterson has called the “coaching program” a form of “re-education” and will refuse to attend. The substance of his tweets and comments, as well the lack of relationship between Peterson and those filing the complaints, led to Peterson’s claims that the training isn’t about any actual professional wrongdoing, but are instead due to his unacceptable political views on such topics as transgenderism and climate change and his criticisms of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other leaders.
Peterson wrote in the National Post that during his 20 years as a clinical psychologist, he had never received a complaint. Since he emerged as a controversial figure six years ago for refusing to use gender-neutral pronouns, however, the CoP of Ontario has proceeded with more than a dozen investigations.
He explains that “Every single accusation is not only independent of my clinical practice, but explicitly political — and not only that: unidirectionally explicitly political. Every single thing I have been sentenced to correction for saying is insufficiently leftist, politically. I’m simply too classically liberal — or, even more unforgivably — conservative.”
Peterson told Rogan that he is fighting the requirement for several reasons, a primary one being that “they’re interfering with my freedom of conscience and speech.”
Just as critically, though, he wants to fight back against the politicization of licensing and regulatory boards, which are using their power and authority to persecute and intimidate those in professions that require a license to work, including lawyers, physicians, teachers, and massage therapists.
Licensing boards, he says, are designed to investigate client, patient, or student claims of malpractice or professional misconduct, as well as to regulate and punish those who violate the standards or ethics of their profession. In recent years, though, the licensing process has been “weaponized as a political tool,” Peterson told Rogan.
Rogan responded that the action is “Orwellian,” but Peterson’s is hardly an isolated case nor is it relegated to Canada. In November, Texas physician Dr. Peter McCullough, one of the world’s most respected cardiologists and internists and a proponent of early treatment for COVID, reported that he was stripped of his board certifications in internal medicine and cardiovascular disease by the American Board of Internal Medicine “after decades of perfect clinical performance, board scores, and hundreds of peer reviewed publications.” The board specifically cited McCullough’s “public statements … about the purported dangers of, or lack of justification for, the COVID-19 vaccines” for its decision.
Meanwhile, a new California law, AB2098, punishes doctors who spread “misinformation” about COVID, defined as “false information that is contradicted by contemporary scientific consensus contrary to the standard of care.” The law is to be enforced by the state’s medical and osteopathic boards.
However, in a ruling on a suit filed against the state and the medical boards by the Children’s Defense Fund and several physicians on First Amendment grounds, a federal judge blocked the law, calling it “nonsense” and “grammatically incoherent.”
In his 30-page decision, U.S. District Judge William Shubb stated that the government provided “no evidence that ‘scientific consensus’ has an established technical meaning,” adding that “the expert declarations they offer are notably silent on the topic.”
He granted an injunction because the law will likely be found unconstitutional and the plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their challenge. He wrote:
“Because the definition of misinformation ‘fails to provide a person of ordinary intelligence fair notice of what is prohibited [and] is so standardless that it authorizes or encourages seriously discriminatory enforcement,’ the provision is unconstitutionally vague.”
It is genuinely disturbing to realize that the radical left and all of its bullying tactics have infiltrated professional licensing boards in the U.S. and Canada. As a result, these boards are now either voluntarily — or being employed by the state — to use their regulatory power to censor and destroy the careers of talented, highly-trained, and much-needed physicians, clinical psychologists, and other healthcare providers. It is a clear indicator that they don’t really care about the physical and mental health of patients, only that everyone in their profession should think exactly as they do.
Obviously, over the long term this will have a chilling effect on the quality of patient care. If psychologists are not allowed to have personal opinions on political or cultural matters, or even mental health diagnoses like gender dysphoria, and if physicians are forced to treat patients based on treatment protocols set by bureaucrats and political activists rather than the individual and complex needs of patients, then we really are in for a world of hurt.
This is yet another instance of those with power seeking to force everyone to affirm a radical ideology. The message they are sending to professionals is clear: Celebrate every view of the left — or be labeled as a danger to others and have your reputation and career destroyed. It’s one thing to lose a job; it’s a whole other travesty to be stripped of your professional credentials and license and no longer allowed to care for patients.
As Orwellian as it is to send a highly esteemed clinical psychologist and university lecturer for re-education over his tweets, or to revoke the medical credentials of a world-renowned cardiologist for criticizing vaccine mandates, the California law is just as bad. As Judge Shubb pointed out, the so-called “scientific consensus” on COVID-19 has proven to be inaccurate many times, which means that this law, if it’s ever allowed to take effect, would require doctors to tell their patients treatment information they know to be a lie in order to comply with the law and keep their license.
Proverbs 26:28 says,
“A lying tongue hates those it crushes,
And a flattering mouth works ruin.”
Those in positions of trust must always tell the truth, not whatever those with power tell them to say. Professional ethics standards are based on a foundation of honesty, and nowhere is this more true than in the medical field. The ability for a patient to trust in the word of a physician or psychologist is paramount to positive outcomes. Therefore, licensing boards need to stick to regulating professional conduct and stand up for the rights of physicians, psychologists, and other professionals to question the “scientific consensus” and freely and publicly speak their political and cultural views — however unpopular they may be.
Ready to dive deeper into the intersection of faith and policy? Head over to our Theology of Politics series page where we’ve published several long-form pieces that will help Christians navigate where their faith should direct them on political issues.