Roundtable: There’s value in Peterson’s visit to campus

Never in my life have I seen a public figure with views so misrepresented in the mainstream media. Since his rise to fame, Dr. Jordan Peterson can’t open his mouth without being designated as a sexist, homophobe, transphobe, alt-right champion and in some extreme cases, a Nazi.

These characterizations are very clearly false and anybody who has personally engaged with Dr. Peterson’s material online via his lectures, countless interviews and debates knows he’s explicitly opposed to oppression, ideological thinking, as well as political extremism.

He’s never once expressed support for the conceptually-ambiguous “alt-right” movement or for the disenfranchisement of any group in society. In fact, his lectures discourage the type of thinking behind such destructive beliefs.

Peterson is an extremely valuable cultural figure positing complex arguments that require engagement and reflection. The mainstream liberal media is doing a disservice by blatantly mischaracterizing and misrepresenting his arguments with ad hominem attacks and divisive headlines.

He represents an important voice for the moderate left, which has become increasingly silent in a time of extremism on both sides of the political spectrum. He’s a champion of free speech, a combatant of the very political extremism he's been accused of and an inspiration to countless men. Most importantly, Peterson challenges issues he believes are intrinsic to the liberal humanities program of North American universities.

If you don’t believe in free speech for ideas you disagree with, the truth of the matter is that you don’t actually support the right to free speech. Peterson’s visit would be an opportunity for nuanced, critical discussion that has become lost in the minutiae of modern media consumption and political discourse.

Dr. Peterson is an accomplished academic with opinions on a wide range of issues. It’s anyone’s right to disagree with and challenge him. However, to disagree with him on nothing but a misconstrued understanding of his arguments and beliefs isn’t constructive. Silencing him wouldn’t solve anything and is antithetical to academia.

University should be a place where you encounter challenging, uncomfortable and complex ideas. To even entertain the idea that we deny such a prominent intellectual from discussing his controversial beliefs at a facility of higher learning is ludicrous. Remember your motto Queen’s, Spientia et Doctrina Stabilitas — Wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times.

Josh Malm is a fifth year political science student.

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