Jordan Peterson
© Veronica Henri/Toronto Sun
University of Toronto professor Jordan Peterson speaks at th Sandford Fleming building in Toronto on Friday February 3, 2017.

He found one of the hateful posters on a telephone pole near his home a few nights ago.

In what is labelled a "Community Safety Bulletin," controversial University of Toronto Prof. Jordan Peterson - now a household name for his free speech advocacy and his refusal to use genderless pronouns - is painted as someone to fear who has "open associations with neo-nazis and the alt-right" and has even been referred to as a "Nazi philosopher."

The poster - which invites people to contact the dean of the U of T arts and science faculty with their concerns - also suggests Peterson has been campaigning against rights for women, people of colour, Muslims and LGBT people for the past year.

Peterson says the poster is not only "libelous" but also a different attempt at intimidation, "striking close to home" this time.

"The implication there is that I'm the sort of person we should hide children from," he said. "The accusations against me are beyond absurd, beyond belief."

But instead of pursuing legal action, he decided to tweet the poster, along with letters of support he's received because of it.

He said while no one has claimed responsibility for the poster, he suspects it is the same group who pressured Ryerson University - with a Facebook page threatening disruption and possible violence - to cancel the free speech event there on Aug. 22, ironically called "The Stifling of Free Speech on University Campuses."

The event - which also features Gad Saad (an equally outspoken marketing professor, author and commentator) and psychologist Oren Amitay - is now taking place on Nov. 11 at Canada Christian College, the only place they can ensure the event won't be cancelled, says Peterson. (What a sad statement!)

Ryerson spokesman Michael Forbes said at the time that Ryerson "was not equipped to provide the necessary level of public safety for the event."

"I think the fact that Ryerson caved to the demands of these people for sure emboldened them," said Peterson.

Devon Ballinger, who claims credit on her Facebook page for being part of the group that shut down the Aug. 22 event, promotes plans to stage a counter-demonstration at the Nov. 11 event on a new Facebook page called SEDE, an acronym for @Shutemdowneverywhere.

Devon Ballinger
Ballinger, a non-binary activist who goes by the pronouns they/them, denied responsibility for the "Community Safety Bulletin" but added this proves "how widespread the feelings of animosity towards said professor go."

They/them added SEDE would "never divulge any information" that could lead to harm against those in their community who created the poster.

I asked they/them what were the concerns about the Aug. 22 panel and most particularly Peterson. Ballinger said the panel was nothing more than an "exploration of xenophobia, transphobia, islamophobia and other bigoted ideas" - claiming that free speech only pertains to "criticisms of government, political leaders and the inability of the state to persecute dissenters."

Ballinger said they/them also takes issue with Peterson's "transphobic views" on gender neutral pronouns. "He is making it seem like it's about trans folks controlling everyone else when it's really about respect for you fellow humans," they/them said.

Oh the irony. This narrative writes itself. Comments from yours truly (me, a she) are not required.

Ballinger added that SEDE was an organized response to the escalated presence and tactics by the right within social institutions and community spaces - spaces they/them alluded to being only "leftist spaces."

Who knew that publicly funded community spaces and universities are only "leftist spaces?"

But given how universities are emboldening groups like SEDE and denying those from all ends of the political spectrum their rights to free speech (and I certainly don't mean the real hatemongers), I can certainly see where they/them would think they are "leftist spaces" only.