An appearance by controversial speaker Jordan Peterson in Victoria on Friday is prompting a student-led protest rally and a simultaneous discussion panel at the University of Victoria that promises to unpack Peterson’s “problematic viewpoints.”
The former University of Toronto professor-turned-social media personality, who is making a nearly sold-out appearance at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre, has been criticized for expressing views considered misogynistic and anti-trans. In 2016, he became a vocal opponent of using preferred pronouns for trans students.
Protests have dogged Peterson, who is in town to promote his latest book, Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life, since he began touring in 2022.
The talk is listed as sold-out on Ticketmaster, though a number of front floor tickets were still available for purchase as of Tuesday afternoon. A request by the Times Colonist for accreditation to cover the event was denied.
UVic students are leading a rally at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre on Friday before Peterson speaks. Organizers say they plan to arrive at 5 p.m. with lemonade, iced tea and lots of chalk to “cover the plaza in messages of queer joy” before Peterson’s evening event.
Cleo Philp, a rally organizer and elected student leader at UVic, said Peterson presents himself as a free-speech advocate while calling for the oppression and silencing of trans and queer voices.
Billed as a rally for LGBTQ joy, the event is inspired by the culture of picnicking and drag brunch within the queer community, Philp said.
“Every time I go through any sort of queer organization’s history, there’s always some picture of people on a blanket, in a field, having a picnic together.”
The protest is set to end 45 minutes before the start of Peterson’s talk to avoid contact with attendees.
Philp said organizers are hoping to minimize conflict. “The point isn’t necessarily to become adversarial with Petersonians, so much as it to show the flourishing and the presence of our queerness.”
Prym Goodacre, another rally organizer, said via text that the LGTBQ2S+ community “won’t be intimidated and won’t be silenced by far-right figures.”
While Peterson speaks on Friday night, a free discussion panel promising to “unpack Peterson” is planned for the same time — 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. — at the David Lam Auditorium at UVic.
The panel, hosted by the Victoria Healthy Masculinity Collective and featuring UVic political science professor Simon Glezos, among others, will examine Peterson’s philosophy and “invite healthy dialogue about how to disentangle masculine empowerment from the misogyny and transphobia Peterson is selling,” according to the event page.
In February, Eddi Wilson, a local two-spirit Metís drag artist, called on Victoria Mayor Marianne Alto and the city to cancel Peterson’s talk through a petition that garnered about 2,500 signatures.
>>> To comment on this article, write a letter to the editor: firstname.lastname@example.org