The Meaning of Freedom


"Lock them in and burn it down!" someone cried to scattered whoops of approval as protesters barricaded the doors with garbage bins. Someone else banged on the stained-glass window of the historic Grant Hall at Queen's University until it broke. The building was completed in 1905. It used as a military hospital during the First World War and a meal hall for troops during the Second. "Shame On You!" the protesters chanted, and "No Freedom For Hate Speech!" and "Whose Campus? Our Campus!" and "Attending Is Complicity!" and the now-ubiquitous slogan "Fuck White Supremacy!"

The mob was protesting the appearance of University of Toronto psychology professor Jordan Peterson, who had been invited to deliver a lecture on compelled speech in Canada. It was the first talk in a series on individual liberty and its central role in liberal democracy and Western culture. Inside the hall, Peterson's remarks were briefly interrupted by two protesters who mounted the stage and unfurled a banner that read "Freedom To Smash Bigotry." They were booed and catcalled until they left, their fists in the air. Outside, they were greeted with cheers and applause.