Last week controversial psychologist, Jordan B. Peterson announced his public speaking tour in promotion of his book, Beyond Order, was making a stop in Victoria on May 19th at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre (SOFMC).
Since the announcement, an online petition has been started calling on the City of Victoria’s Mayor, Marianne Alto and her council to put an end to the event.
Peterson is known to be a master debater and he has strong views regarding free speech and how North Americans have a right to it regardless of how it affects others. He has been known to make misogynistic and transphobic comments online and has spoken out against using people’s preferred pronouns on his path to internet fame.
“Peterson and his followers will often argue that protesting or calling for the cancellation of his events is a censorship or infringement on the freedom of expression,” wrote Eddi Wilson, who started the online petition.
“However freedom of expression in Canada is not absolute especially when it comes to hate speech that incites violence against a particular defined racial, ethnic, gender, sexual, religious or other identifiable group.”
Wilson is a well-known drag king performer who goes by the pseudonym ‘Eddi Licious’ and is a beloved member of Victoria’s drag community.
The petitioners believe that his views evoke a harmful rhetoric that may jeopardize the public safety of Victorians who are women and/or a part of the LGTBQ2SIA+ community.
This is because Peterson’s initial rise to fame came from his opposition to Canada’s Bill C-16, which amended the Canadian Human Rights Act to include language that would protect people being discriminated against due to their gender identity and gender expression.
Peterson was even banned from Twitter for a time for transphobic remarks regarding Canadian actor, Elliot Page.
“Remember when pride was a sin? And Ellen Page just had her breasts removed by a criminal physician,” said Peterson before the tweet was removed from the platform due to its harmful nature.
Following the suspension, Peterson appeared in a video in which he claimed he had done nothing wrong and the suspension of his Twitter account was a violation of his free speech.
“I started this petition partially hoping that the city of Victoria would reconsider giving such a large public platform to someone who promotes ideas that are harmful to women and minorities, but more so because I wanted to at least give people a clearer idea of who they’re supporting if they choose to listen to Jordan Peterson speak,” wrote Wilson.
“I do not believe disallowing him a platform in the city’s arena is an infringement on his right to free speech when he regularly uses this right to tell people things like, quote, ‘The people who hold that our culture is an oppressive patriarchy, they don’t want to admit that the current hierarchy might be predicated on competence.’”
Wilson and many other Victorians are concerned that Peterson’s presence and words may lead to violence against already marginalized communities in Victoria.
As of this publication, the petition has over 600 signatures while over a thousand tickets have been sold for the venue which has a 7,600 person capacity.
Victoria Buzz reached out to the City of Victoria to ask if and how they would cancel the event and if cancelling the event was even within their power given that they own the property in which the event is scheduled.
“The City leases the Save on Foods Memorial Centre to RG Facilities and the use of the space is controlled by RG Facilities,” said Colleen Mycroft, City of Victoria Manager of Executive Operations and City Communications.
“In addition, the City’s actions are subject to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and there is a right to freedom of expression in public places.”
“Any government decision to restrict or limit the opportunity for such expression is subject to compliance with the Charter. The City cannot restrict expression based on its content except where justified in instances of hate, promotion of violence or indecency.”
What the petition’s signees are trying to convey to the City of Victoria is that they believe Jordan Peterson’s views have the potential to incite “instances of hate,” “promotion of violence” and “indecency.”
Victoria Buzz reached out to SOFMC to ask at what point would they consider cancelling the event, but have not received a response at the time of publication.
As of now, Jordan Peterson’s event will continue as scheduled on May 19th.