A lecture at Queen’s University by controversial psychology professor Jordan Peterson on Monday turned into a fight over free speech.
About 200 protesters gathered outside Grant Hall to voice their displeasure with the University of Toronto psychology professor. According to Queen’s, more than 800 people attended the lecture. A Queen’s spokesperson said, “with the exception of a brief interruption at the outset, the audience was respectful and engaged and the lecture occurred without further incident.”
Outside Grant Hall, demonstrators could be seen banging on doors and windows, shouting profanities, all in an attempt to drown out Peterson’s lecture The Rising Tide of Compelled Speech in Canada.
Peterson is also on a 12-city lecture tour to promote his book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.
Peterson has been accused of promoting racist and homophobic ideas. He’s also been widely criticized for opposing Bill C-16, which aims to protect transgender people from discrimination under the Criminal Code.
“Trans rights and trans people being respected is actually a good step forward like that is something that is very important and is worth celebrating and it’s not going to lead to you know this dystopian future where people are just going to get imprisoned for speaking a certain way,” said protester Kayley Marsh.
Carrick Irwin, the leader of the International Peacekeepers Alliance was also at the protest. The activist did not organize the protest but did document it. Irwin says he doesn’t agree with Peterson’s views and feels the university already has a problem with discrimination on campus and inviting speakers like Peterson doesn’t help.
“We need to fix our own house first before we start talking about how we’re bringing more diverse opinions in because we can’t even get diversity on this campus, we can’t even get, those minority groups that have been asking for their opinions to be heard, heard at all,” said Irwin.
During the protest, a stained glass window at the historic building was smashed. A 38-year-old Kingston woman was arrested and is facing a number of charges including mischief, assault police and carrying a concealed weapon.
According to police, the suspect, who is not a student, broke the window while standing on a ledge banging on it. She then fled but was picked up not far from the demonstration by plainclothes officers. Once handcuffed, police say the woman became violent and began kicking at one officer. Police say the suspect also tried to kick out the window of a police cruiser.
The woman was held in custody pending a bail hearing.