Free speech is a core value for him — the core value — and one that is becoming increasingly pressing, most recently (as I write this) with the resignation of the Labour shadow minister Sarah Champion after she made remarks in the Sun about Pakistani sex gangs and ran foul of what was considered acceptable by the Labour leadership. That elements of the left have begun to label free speech as somehow a ‘right-wing’ value is particularly rattling (although such censorious thinking has a long history in radical left ideology).

Free speech a right-wing value? It's classically liberal.

‘If I can’t say what I think, then I don’t get to think, and if I can’t think then I can’t orient myself in the world, and if I can’t do that, then I’m going to fall into a pit and take everyone else with me,’ Peterson says.

Peterson has been saddled by some of his critics with the label ‘alt-right’, which he views as a ridiculous slander. He describes himself as a ‘classic British liberal’ who makes those on both the left and right uncomfortable. He supports socialised health care and the liberalisation of drug use, and is libertarian on most social issues.

‘Alt-right’ is certainly one of the most inaccurate pigeonholes you could imagine cramming him into. His heroes include Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, Freud, Jung, Orwell and Solzhenitsyn. He is a Christian, but more on the pattern of existential Christians such as Søren Kierkegaard or Paul Tillich than anything to be found in the Midwest Bible belt.

Peterson’s thought-crime is that he disagrees with the view of transgender activists that gender is a social construct and has no grounding in biology (although he is not opposed to transgender rights in general).

It is reasonable to hold that gender roles are in part socially contructed as long as you also hold that they are influenced by underlying biological realities. But if you say that gender is a social construct with no grounding in biology then you show that your contact with reality is minimal if not nonexistent. If your stupidity is a willed stupidity than I condemn you morally. People have a moral obligation to use their intellects properly.

There is a curious paradox here. Lefties who accuse global warming skeptics of denying reality and being anti-science themselves deny reality and are anti-science in their constructivist views of gender and race.  The difference, of course, is that there is good reason to be skeptical of the global warming theses of the climate alarmists, but no good reason to doubt that gender and race differences are ultimately rooted in biological differences.

So why does his right to free speech trump a transgender activist’s right not to be offended? Why not just keep his thoughts to himself?

‘Because thoughts aren’t like that,’ he says. ‘People mostly think by talking. Not only do they think by talking, but they correct their thoughts by talking. If you deprive people of the right to think, then you doom them to suffering. You doom their stupidity of its right to die. You should allow your thoughts to be cast away into the fire — instead of you.’

His claims about gender — that women consistently differ, cross-culturally, from men on many of the Big Five personality traits identified by psychometric researchers — are, in psychology circles at least, not particularly controversial. These traits are Openness, Neuroticism, Conscientiousness, Extraversion and Agreeableness (each of these are technical definitions that are somewhat more precise and different in meaning to their casual usage as terms).

‘These traits are not social-cultural,’ says Peterson. ‘The evidence is crystal clear. As you make a country more egalitarian, the gender differences get larger. Most particularly, women are higher when it comes to Agreeableness — wanting everyone to get along, not liking conflict, compassionate, polite, self-sacrificing — and Neuroticism — higher in negative emotion and more responsive to grief and threat and punishment and isolation.’

Anyone with any experience of life knows that women as a group are more agreeable than men as a group. Why the hell do you think they are 'over-represented' among realtors?  And anyone who is not stupid, or a leftist, knows that the statement two sentences back cannot be refuted by uncovering a covey of prickly, jack-booted dykes, or a convention of Walter Mitties.