An online petition has been started with the intent of blocking Internet sensation Jordan Peterson from speaking at an event scheduled for 7:30 p.m. October 10, at the Tobin Center for Performing Arts in downtown San Antonio.
The petition describes Peterson has “one of the most vocal and divisive anti-LGBTQ individuals in North America” who “makes a living promoting conversion therapy and spreading lies about transgender people.” The petition demands that the Tobin Center cancel the event and “commit to scheduling programming that does not discriminate against people on the basis of an individual’s race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, disability, familial status, national origin or age.”
While Peterson, a Canadian professor, is no stranger to controversy, he has never shown any inclination towards supporting or promoting gay conversion therapy. In fact, as a clinical psychologist he seems to have significant reservations about such types of purported medical practices, saying “Do not try to rescue someone who does not want to be rescued.”
That hasn’t stopped Ashley Smith, the organizer of the petition drive circulating on Change.org. Smith is a transgender San Antonio LBGTQ activist. Smith’s main claim to fame is trolling Texas Gov. Greg Abbott with a year-old Facebook post of a picture of Smith with Abbott. The post was captioned “#Bathroombuddy” and protested Abbott’s proposed “bathroom bill” that requires government offices to preserve single-sex private facilities.
When asked by the San Antonio Current about Smith’s petition to block Peterson from speaking, Smith argued Peterson’s ideas are “very harmful to our city” and should not be given a taxpayer-subsidized platform, like the Tobin Center. However, the managers over at the Tobin Center appear to disagree. They billed Peterson’s scheduled appearance as “a one-of-a-kind uplifting lecture, where he discusses overcoming life’s biggest obstacles [and] how to improve oneself…”
Smith’s initiative has been endorsed by the University of Texas, San Antonio chapter of the Young Democratic Socialists of America, which tweeted a link to the petition along with the caption “No platform for transphobes.”
Before 2016, Peterson was a mild-mannered, non-notorious psychology professor at the University of Toronto. His meteoric rise into the public spotlight was largely propelled by his opposition to Bill C-16, an amendment to the Ontario Human Rights Code that included gender identity and gender expression to anti-discrimination laws.
Under the provisions of the law, failing to address someone by his or her preferred pronoun would be considered hate speech and could result in litigation. However, the grounds for Peterson’s opposition wasn’t the transgender issue per se. He opposed government forcing citizens to use certain words, saying this violates the principle of free speech.
Since then, Peterson has become a massively popular public intellectual and member of the enigmatic Intellectual Dark Web. Lately, he’s been filling lecture halls and auditoriums across the country to expound on his philosophical views and promote his new book, “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.”
According to Campus Reform, one member of the socialist group said, “Peterson uses his platform to reinforce transphobia and gender essentialism historically and in the present moment. Those have informed government policy and cultural attitudes that enact structural and interpersonal violence against, well, really everyone in our society, but especially the people who are least able to defend themselves. Peterson is either clever enough to see this for himself (and thus malicious) or else not (and thus a fraud).”
Several Twitters users recognized inaccuracies in the petition and took to the comments section to point them out. Many demanded citations or sources of any instance in which the Canadian professor promoted conversion therapy. None were provided.
One user compared the group to “thought police” before adding, “Let us judge his ideas on their merits.” Others used irony and sarcasm to chide the socialist efforts, saying things like “LOL. How dare you have a dissenting thought!” and “Hahahaha, you don’t like JP [Jordan Peterson] so you lie about his positions to promote censorship. At least you are staying on brand for socialists.” Another user quipped, “Peterson does preach conversion therapy. It is no easy task converting neo Marxist sheep into free thinking individuals.”
The petition to block Peterson from speaking, which currently has 856 signatures, can be found here. Tickets to Peterson’s Oct. 10 lecture can be found here.