So how’s Jordan Peterson’s world tour going?

So how’s Jordan Peterson’s world tour going?

Jordan Peterson speaking in the Netherlands. Screenshot from Tomáš David/YouTube

U of T psychology professor Jordan Peterson was once an obscure academic without much ideological reach beyond his own classroom. That was before he declared, in a series of YouTube videos, that he would not use gender-neutral pronouns (even though nobody was really asking him to), then cruised to international notoriety on the resulting wave of controversy.

Thanks in part to the attentions of a global press that can’t enough of the idea of a professor taking on lefty political pieties, there are suddenly thousands of people—many of them young men—willing to subscribe to Peterson’s Patreon, which gives them access to his bi-monthly online Q&A sessions and his suite of self-help products. His fans love his extreme skepticism of political correctness, and some of them credit him with changing their lives through profound tough-love dictums like “clean your room.” His critics pan him as a pretentious fraud who livens up Oprah-level self-improvement nostrums with right-wing ideology and then presents it all as scientific truth.

Before his rise to fame, Peterson had only published a single book, in 1999. In 2018, perhaps sensing that the time had come for a followup, he published his second: 12 Rules for Life, an Amazon bestseller that imparts advice like “stand up straight with your shoulders back,” “be precise in your speech,” and “pet a cat when you encounter one on the street.” Peterson has been spreading his gospel on an international book tour, during which he lectures to packed rooms. Here’s how that’s going.


During a stop in the U.K. for two days’ worth of lectures, Peterson reportedly attracted a crowd of mostly white young men. The British press took the opportunity to stoke his legend, breathlessly recounting his opposition to Canada’s Bill C-16, which, according to the Evening Standard, “means that it is now a criminal offence to refuse to call a person by their chosen gender pronoun.” (Bill C-16 merely adds “gender identity or expression” to a list of personal attributes, like race and nationality, that are legally protected from discrimination. The bill doesn’t say anything about pronouns.)

While he was in the country, Peterson had a combative on-camera discussion with Cathy Newman, an interviewer for Channel 4. At first he seemed pleased (maybe too pleased?) with the results:

Once Channel 4 revealed that Peterson’s defenders were subjecting Newman to misogynistic online abuse, he went on the defence:


Peterson’s speech at the The Bread Factory in Rijswijk started with a soliloquy about how much he loves the Netherlands. “Your society is so well-ordered, and so well-structured, and so free, and so remarkable in every way,” he said.

New York

Peterson was greeted with a laudatory David Brooks column in the New York Times, in which Brooks compares him to a “a young William F. Buckley.”

A grainy YouTube video captures an interesting moment during the Q&A portion of Peterson’s lecture at The Kay Playhouse. An audience member who identifies himself as a Jewish American says, “Jewish individuals are overrepresented in the ownership and senior staffing of the U.S. news media.” And then he asks Peterson: “Could Jewish individuals use their positions of power to seek out revenge against places like Europe and Russia that have a history of expelling Jews?”

Peterson, looking stricken, walks to the other end of the stage and holds his head for a moment while the crowd murmurs. “It’s so difficult to disentangle,” Peterson begins. But then he trails off. “I can’t do it,” he says. He doesn’t answer the question, but neither does he condemn it. For once, he has nothing to say.

“Thank you very much for your work,” says the audience member. “You really have changed my life.”


Peterson was pretty pissed off when his original venue in Edmonton, the Citadel Theatre, disinvited him, fearing backlash from anti-Peterson protestors.

He ended up doing his event at a hotel, instead, and he eventually extracted an apology from the Citadel’s management for how they handled the situation.


Peterson’s stop at Queen’s University was interrupted by protestors, one of whom was later arrested and found to be carrying a garrotte.


Peterson was in Sydney and Brisbane last week. The Australian media coverage has been pretty typical.