The Auckland Feminist Action’s plan to hold a counter-protest outside the venues of Jordan Peterson’s speaking tour should be the primary, not backup, response to his speech. Auckland and Christchurch Councils must reject calls to deny Peterson the use of public venues, says Jonthan Ayling, spokesperson for the Free Speech Union.
“Calling for the cancellation of a speaking tour, rather than engaging with its content and combatting it with better ideas is no way to ensure those ideas can be properly tested. If Peterson’s ideas are as toxic as his opponents say, then it should be no problem for them to let his views be publicly beaten with better speech.
“Figures like Peterson show time and again that cancellations and attempts to de-platform don’t work. When a figure has built their brand by opposing ‘cancel culture’, being de-platformed only serves to enhance that brand. Almost perversely, if the Auckland Feminist Action succeeds in having Peterson’s shows cancelled, they may only further his agenda and harm their own.
“Auckland Feminist Action should remember the crucial role free speech has played in ensuring women have a voice in our communities. From the suffrage movement to modern battles for gender equality, the principles of free speech have ensured women’s voices are heard. Undermining this freedom now is counterproductive.
“City Councils hosting Peterson should also remember that since the cancellation of the two Canadian alt-right speakers in 2018, the High Court and Court of Appeal have ruled that they do not even have the legal authority to withhold the use of public venues to speakers on the basis of their views.
“In the debate on the use of publicly owned venues, the Free Speech Union has won this fight multiple times before. If it comes up again, we’ll win it again.