New Zealand’s National Bookstore Is Banning Author Jordan Peterson’s ’12 Rules’ Bestseller
Whitcoulls, a chain that has 56 stores across New Zealand, announced on Wednesday, March 20 that it would no longer sell copies of the controversial Canadian author Jordan Peterson’s bestselling self-help book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. The company is tying the decision directly to the terrorist attack at two Christchurch mosques that left at least 50 people dead and dozens injured. The move is one in a series aimed at curbing racist hate speech following the attack, led by the country’s progressive prime minister, 38-year-old Jacinda Ardern.
“Unfortunately 12 Rules for Life is currently unavailable, which is a decision that Whitcoulls has made in light of some extremely disturbing material being circulated prior, during and after the Christchurch attacks,” the company reportedly wrote in an email to customers. “As a business which takes our responsibilities to our communities seriously, we believe it would be wrong to support the author at this time.”
Though Whitcoulls did not elaborate further, there has been some online speculation as to the source of the bookstore’s decision. Shortly after the attack in Christchurch, Twitter user Dan Taipua noted that during Peterson’s New Zealand book tour in February, the author posed for a photograph with a fan wearing a shirt that read, “I’m a proud Islamaphobe [sic].” The photo was taken nearly one month before the attack.
Peterson first gained notoriety in Canada in 2016, while he was a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. At the time, the professor rallied against federal legislation that had been tabled to update the country’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the Canadian constitution) to protect gender identity for Canadian citizens. In a series of YouTube videos he titled “Professor Against Political Correctness,” Peterson insisted that he would not use gender-neutral pronouns, even if asked by his students.
Although Peterson has never publicly said anything racist or anti-Muslim, he has become something of a poster-boy for the so-called “alt-light,” and a figurehead among “men’s rights” misogynists. His diatribes against “political correctness” and the “radical left” lend a sheen of scholarly legitimacy to troubling, reactionary movements of angry men online.
Though Whitcoulls appears to have pulled 12 Rules for reasons outside of the book’s content, the move makes a strong statement. The generally outspoken Peterson, as of publication time, has yet to make a statement on the bookstore’s decision.
(Carlos Osorio/Toronto Star via Getty Images)