Jordan Peterson Repeatedly Makes Air Quotes While Saying the Word 'Racism' During Debate

A video showing controversial Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson's remarks about institutional racism has gone viral after he used air quotes when discussing the issue during a Thursday appearance on the BBC show Question Time.

Peterson, 59, alongside other guests, was discussing whistleblower Azeem Rafiq's ordeal with the racism he experienced while he played for Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

Rafiq, 30, who is of Pakistani descent, told a British parliamentary on Tuesday committee that he experienced "inhuman" treatment during his time with the club. He played for Yorkshire from 2008 to 2014.

"This cricket player was experiencing racism, by his own account," said Peterson in a clip that has at the time of writing amassed more than 400,000 views. "The question is: Who, when, what, exactly— because otherwise it degenerates into something like a discussion of structural racism."

"And when it becomes obstructed up to that level, it pits group against group which I think is entirely counterproductive. That actually doesn't address the issue," he continued.

Using his hands to make air quotes when saying "racism," Peterson said it is a "global and vague term."

Peterson was interrupted by Scottish National Party MP Stephen Flynn on his use of the hand gesture, who asked: "Sorry, why would you possibly do that, what does that mean? The inverted commas as if it's not a real thing?"

Peterson responded by claiming he meant the gesture is "indicative of low-resolution thinking."

After a brief silence, he added: "What I mean by that is we use all these terms frequently in discussions like this which are containers of undifferentiated content."

The 59-year-old went on to defend his use of air quotes, saying that he is not "denying his [Rafiq's] experience."

"What I'm asking is who and when and you just answered that," he said. "So I would say those specific people should be held specifically to account to their actions, before any movement up the hierarchy to something like discussion of racism, which I don't think is helpful."

"It doesn't address the issue—that does not mean "racism" [in air quotes] does not exist, that is not what I'm saying in the least," Peterson continued.

"Maybe let's do less of the hand movements and look at the evidence," Labour MP Stella Creasy told Peterson.

Earlier, on Wednesday, Rafiq said he expects that his account of racism in the English game may encourage other victims to come forward with their ordeals.

"I do feel now it's going to be a little bit of floodgates and a lot of victims of abuse are going to come forward and we need to listen to them, hear them, support them and work out a plan to make sure this doesn't happen again," Rafiq told Sky Sports.

Jordan Peterson makes air quote gestures
Jordan Peterson during a Thursday appearance on BBC Question Time. The outspoken Canadian psychologist has drawn criticism after he put air quotes around the word “racism" while discussing whistleblower Azeem Rafiq’s ordeal with racism at Yorkshire County Cricket Club. BBC