(Unsigned, Queen’s University)
Tensions have been palpable since the first mention that University of Toronto Professor, Jordan Peterson, would be speaking at Queen’s University. As the date grew closer, anticipation among students and community members amplified and ideological divides deepened. Social media saw the formation of two distinct groups: those for the protest and those for the counter-protest. Additionally, the wild spread of misinformation and an over-simplification of the issues at hand did not make matters better. I was one of hundreds, who patiently waited hours to attend the Jordan Peterson event. The anticipation for protest demonstrations certainly did not disappoint.
Throughout the chaos, a semblance of order was created among the protestors by a woman with a megaphone. It was frightening to watch protestors devolve into a state of physical outrage and frenzy. Their screams expressed disgust for those of us wishing to hear Peterson speak. The protestors also distributed flyers amongst themselves, with a list of chants and points, helping them protest more effectively.
The virtue signaling of the leftist protestors was exemplified with chants including “Shame on you”, “No freedom for hate speech”, “Your silence is complicit” and “End white privilege”. Interesting enough, most of the students condemning white privilege as a ‘great evil’, were themselves recipients of that privilege. They also celebrated their moral superiority with signs saying, “Free speech is a right, a platform is a privilege” and “My pronouns are not up for debate”. It was obvious from the start that they had no clear unifying message.
When the event began, radical protestors resorted to banging on the walls and windows, using garbage cans and noise makers to disrupt the event from outside. One of the stain glass windows in Grant Hall was shattered and covered in blood. Three of the protestors snuck into the event and attempted to hijack and disrupt it, to condemn the audience and the speakers. Professor Peterson addressed the intolerable tactics himself, comparing their actions to those of a toddler and whose socialization, as a ‘functioning and rational member of society’, had not been achieved. This was received with a raucous round of applause from the audience.
Where was the security to prevent this from happening? Did the campus administration not anticipate such an outrageous reaction from the protestors? I have to think that this was a blatant oversight on the part of the administration.
The radical left wing supporters who attempted to sabotage the Jordan Peterson event directly contributed to the effectiveness and legitimacy of the claims he made during the presentation. If they were truly concerned with taking Peterson down and debasing him as a public figure, they should have done so in the public forum during debate. They should force Peterson to justify and explain his views. Many of the comments I heard from people leaving the event echoes this idea. There was an allotted time for the audience to engage with Peterson and not a single person took advantage of that opportunity to ask difficult questions.
You are not making any change to fight the oppressive system by standing outside screaming and shouting. You do it by presenting better ideas and challenging the view of others. Not by trying to prevent those with whom you disagree with ideologically from speaking.
The idea Peterson sought to ingrain during his speech was the importance of being an individual. To condemn radical post-modern neo-Marxists, whose ideology of identity politics seeks to categorize and prescribe a set ideas and beliefs onto the individual. Professor Peterson is fighting for the conclusions that Western civilization came to hundreds of years ago, that individuals must have the freedom to think, choose and act without being constrained in any way by the state, and its monopolization of force. If the left wing protestors understood these fundamental principles, they would not have sought out to prevent Peterson from speaking. They would have been sitting along side the rest of us who eagerly and respectfully listened to what Jordan Peterson had to say. They don’t have to agree with what he says, but they must allow him to say it.