Mumford & Sons have finally weighed in on that controversial photo they took with polarising academic Jordan Peterson back in May, which saw them blasted online after it resurfaced on Twitter last month.
Peterson’s contentious views on issues such as white privilege, gender identity, and feminism have turned him into a divisive figure championed by the far right and despised by the left, so the band’s appearance alongside him triggered many to accuse them of misogyny, white supremacy and just plain sucking.
Now, frontman Marcus Mumford and guitarist/banjoist Winston Marshall have addressed the stink, with Marshall telling Canada’s CBC Radio that “I don’t think that having a photograph with someone means you agree with everything they say”.
He also explained the circumstances surrounding how the photo came about, admitting that he’d become interested in the doctor’s work after reading both of his books on psychology. Then, after being introduced by a mutual acquaintance, he invited Peterson down to the band’s London studio for hangs.
“I think with the controversial stuff that you’re talking about, I don’t think [Peterson’s] psychology is controversial, but the quasi-political stuff…” Marshall argues. “I think it’s a conversation we’re having a little bit as a band and, do we want to get into the political stuff? Probably not.
“I don’t think that having a photograph with someone means you agree with everything they say,” he continued.
“Because then I wouldn’t be able to have a photograph of anyone at risk of trying to offend anyone so I think I don’t see the harm in engaging in conversation.”
Peterson is a Canadian professor of psychology who has previously come under fire for promoting the idea of ‘enforced monogamy’, claiming that violent attacks can occur when men do not have partners, and that society should work to make sure such men are married off.
“He was angry at God because women were rejecting him,” Peterson told The New York Times about Alek Minassian, a man from Toronto who killed 10 people by driving a van down a busy street in April.
“The cure for that is enforced monogamy. That’s actually why monogamy emerges.”
The professor has also reportedly claimed that “the idea that women were oppressed throughout history is an appalling theory”, that white privilege is a “Marxist lie” and that feminists have “an unconscious wish for brutal male domination”.
But, backing his bandmate, Marcus Mumford argues that taking the picture with Peterson doesn’t mean that the band back all of his beliefs:
“We love the opportunity to disagree and I think that’s something that’s at risk of being quashed to too much of an extent. And really, I think over the last couple years we’ve been in listening mode — I don’t think any of us listen enough, I don’t think we listen enough as a culture — so, we’ve spent as much time as possible making the most of the real privilege that we get to meeting people and listening to them. Whether or not people then assume that we just endorse politics when we’re not saying anything about politics is their end choice and we certainly hope people don’t feel alienated… I think if we stop listening then we stop progressing, right?”
Marshall adds: “The divisive side of things is something that we find tiring and a shame that it’s such a dominant part of the discourse right now. And if there is any opportunity to unite, we think that’s what we were excited about.”
Their statements come just a day Mumford & Sons announced their new album Delta and teased a 60-date world tour.