Jordan Peterson is right — struggle makes us stronger


National Post, 8 March 2018

The university campus today usually makes fewer demands of students than they are encouraged to make of the university. That's not a good thing

KINGSTON — I have been slow to catch up with the global phenomenon that is Prof. Jordan Peterson of the University of Toronto, author of the No. 1 bestseller 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.

Peterson came to Queen’s University on Monday and the organizers were kind enough to invite me. He spoke to hundreds in a packed hall, and the chaos came, too. The professor’s appearances sometimes bring out violent protesters, and we were subject to hooligans pounding on the stained glass windows of Grant Hall, one of which was broken. When the police stopped the woman who broke it, they found in her bag a garrote, a favoured Mafia instrument for strangulation.

The chaos of the inchoate outside was a contrast with the rather cool and calm Peterson. He must be used to it by now. The protesters were embarrassingly inarticulate for university students, their chants generally consisting of “f..k white supremacy” or some other bad thing. My reportorial antennae did not detect any takers for white supremacy on hand.

Queen’s Principal Daniel Woolf, who took a strong stand in favour of civil academic discourse in light of Peterson’s visit, must have been mortified. Woolf is so attentive to the proper use of words that he recently tweeted a correction to someone who used “less” when she meant “fewer.” One can imagine what he thinks of students whose oratorical range begins and ends with the other “f” word.

Of course I had heard of Peterson’s travails at the U of T, but it was not until last week, while in London, that I realized how big he had become. The London Underground was plastered with posters promoting his new book, and a recent appearance on British television had some eight million views.

What is so compelling about his message? Exposing the foolishness of the foolish is always welcome, but does not account for his popularity. Neither does the insular world of campus politics alone. I have not yet read his book, and am only passingly familiar with his other public arguments, but I was struck – as a Catholic chaplain on campus – by something he said on Monday.

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