The Uses Of Licensure

     Divemedic has written insightfully on the grift we call licensure. Indeed, he’s done so more than once. I’m confident that many who read those pieces will come away disturbed but not convinced. Disturbed, because the evils Divemedic cites are indisputable; unconvinced, because licensure has been a part of Western ways for long enough that they’ll reflexively say “But what would replace it?”

     There are several answers to the question, but the exploration thereof is beyond my intentions for this screed. Rather, I’d like to note one of the uses of licensure that doesn’t get much attention: its use to “whip the dissident back into line:”

     Dr Jordan B Peterson blasted Canada’s “commissars” and penned a scathing letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Tuesday after a leading association of his fellow psychologists threatened to go after his license to practice clinical psychology over social media criticisms of the nation’s far-Left government.

The College of Psychologists of Ontario ordered the best-selling author and Daily Wire+ host to undergo “social media communications retraining” or face a hearing on the potential suspension of his license. In the letter to Trudeau, Peterson vowed not to participate in the process and decried the effort to stifle free speech.

“I simply cannot resign myself to the fact that in my lifetime I am required to resort to a public letter to the leader of my country to point out that political criticism has now become such a crime in Canada that if professionals dare engage in such activity, government-appointed commissars will threaten their livelihood and present them with the spectacle of denouncement and political disgrace,” Peterson wrote. “There is simply and utterly no excuse whatsoever for such a state of affairs in a free country.”

     I like Dr. Peterson. He strikes me as a man with both hard sense and the courage of his convictions. I seldom disagree with his positions, and I find his generosity about sharing his thoughts both singular and admirable. I’m sure I’m not alone in that, considering how large his audience has become.

     But Canada licenses his profession, ostensibly to guarantee the competence of its practitioners. The Ontario College of Psychologists apparently has the power to revoke that license. They’ve threatened to do exactly that over Dr. Peterson’s emissions on “social media.” They want to haul him into line with Trudeau Regime policy and “woke” attitudes, at least as regards what he says in public.

     What relevance do Dr. Peterson’s statements on social media have to his competence to practice as a clinical psychologist?

     Let the question hang in the air for a moment. Let it stimulate a few other questions. Start with this one: Who awarded the Ontario College of Psychologists the authority to expel Jordan Peterson from his chosen profession? Why does that particular body hold the power to deny Dr. Peterson his living? If we squint just right, can we see the heavy hand of the State behind the OCP’s ukase?

     Did you foresee that a licensing authority might be used to stifle opinions the government dislikes? If not, you haven’t been thinking deeply enough about licensure. Today, that particular use of licensure is shaping the future of several rather important occupations.

     As licensure expands to embrace ever more trades, licensing bodies are swiftly captured by the very people we’d least like to have power over our ability to earn a living: People to whom power over others is the greatest of all prizes. Yes, they’ll use that power to establish criteria for the occupation, which is the nominal rationale for licensure. But they’ll also use it to stifle competition with them and their friends. And today – with a nod from governments – they’ll use it to discourage opinions they disapprove.

     A great many people would like to see Jordan Peterson silenced. The Ontario College of Psychologists may have given them the weapon they need to achieve that end. Dr. Peterson has said that he’ll fight the OCP’s “ruling.” I hope his campaign is widely followed…and successful, of course. Ezra Levant set the standard, by refusing to kowtow to Canada’s “hate speech” authorities. I hope Dr. Peterson is aware of Levant’s tactics in that struggle, and is willing to adopt them for his own.

     Power over a man’s subsistence is power over his will. – Alexander Hamilton

1 comment

    • Dan on January 6, 2023 at 6:28 PM

    There was a time when a degree was an indicator of education, not a guarantee but an indicator.  Then licensing….the exchange of money for government permission to do something arrived.  Again….an indicator of competence but not a guarantee.  Now neither a degree or licensure is an indicator of anything other than the fact that money changed hands in exchange for a piece of paper.  And with licensure the government at all levels learned that they could use their monopoly onlegal force to take away your freedoms and then sell them back to you.  In other words legal extortion.  Proof that over time virtually everything ends up corrupted by those in power.

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