CANADIAN academic Jordan Peterson has found himself at the centre of controversy after his appearance on the BBC’s Question Time show.

The outrage focused on a discussion around the experiences of racism described to MPs by former Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq.

When talking about the issue on the BBC, Peterson twice used “air quotes” around the word “racism” - a choice questioned by SNP MP Stephen Flynn.

Peterson said: “‘Racism’ is a global and vague term.”

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He was then interrupted by Flynn, who asked what he’d meant by the use of the air quotes around the term racism.

“Why would you possibly do that? What did that mean?” Flynn asked, adding: “The inverted commas as if it’s not a real thing?”

Peterson answered: “That isn’t what it meant. It meant that it’s indicative of low-resolution thinking.”

The Ontario-based Youtuber and professor said he was not denying the experience described by Rafiq, but argued that the conversation around racism should not go further than holding “those specific people … specifically to account for their actions”.

He said he did not believe discussions around structural or institutional racism were “helpful”.

Rafiq had said he experienced racism and the “institution is the problem”, but Peterson said he did not believe that speaking in such terms does any good, instead claiming it exacerbates the problem.

The National: SNP MP Stephen Flynn looked exasperated while Jordan Peterson denied structural racism was a useful topic to pursueSNP MP Stephen Flynn looked exasperated while Jordan Peterson denied structural racism was a useful topic to pursue

Peterson claimed talking about structural racism does not address the real issue, adding: “That does not mean ‘racism’ doesn’t exist”, again using air quotes around the word for which he was again called out.

Nazir Afzal, a solicitor and former Chief Crown Prosecutor, then described a “rigged system based on privilege”.

He pointed to the disparity between the number of grassroots players of cricket from a south Asian background, against the number who make it to the England team. He also pointed to the number of current England players with family members who previously played for the team.

“That’s not a meritocracy”, he said.

Peterson’s contributions to the racism debate have been called out on social media, with some questioning why the BBC had platformed a man known for having controversial views.

Many users on Twitter labelled him a “pseudo-intellectual” using false arguments and abstraction to deflect from the real issue of racism.

English comic Eshaan Akbar said the discussion had been “absolute chaos”, highlighting how “5 out of 6 of this panel are white”.

Bella Caledonia wrote: “Giving a platform to this man was a deplorable editorial decision @bbcquestiontime.”

Peterson has previously claimed that order is masculine and chaos feminine, and suggested that there is not a “patriarchy” but instead a hierarchy “predicated on competence”.

He has also said that the right-wing extremism which manifests in “incel” culture and terror attacks, such as the mass shooting in Plymouth this year, could be ended with “enforced monogamy”.