Jordan Peterson, an intellectual phenomenon and a self-described ‘free speech guy’, set foot on the floor of the US Congress in an ambitious bid to bridge the gaps between polarised American lawmakers.
The stated goal was to convince Democrats and Republicans of “the utility of putting a human face on the people who are across the aisle” and “decrease unnecessary tension,” he said in an interview with The Daily Beast on Wednesday.
Peterson acknowledged he had doubts about whether he was the right person for the endeavour, but was keen to find out for himself.
Peterson reportedly had a bipartisan dinner on Tuesday night, accompanied by author Gregg Hurwitz, his former student and friend.
Details of the meeting remain a secret, but Hurwitz was quoted as saying that a total of 20 lawmakers were in attendance.
Peterson recounted that the conversation revolved around the lawmakers’ lives and careers. “I think it was palpably relieving for everyone to have a conversation where they could just talk personally,” he said.
Randy Hultgren, who served as a Republican congressman from Illinois between 2011 and 2019, was full of praise for the event.
“It was awesome,” he said. “In my eight years here, I have never had something like that.”
Peterson, who has been touring the world extensively after the release of his best-selling self-help book, 12 Rules for Life, is currently working on a new online community billed as a censorship-free replacement to Patreon.
The new platform, called Thinkspot, would also have some features of social media sites, focusing mainly on communication and expression of opinion with as much freedom of speech as possible.
It comes following an exodus of several top content creators from Patreon – one of the most popular crowdfunding websites out there – which banned several conservative commentators.
Peterson himself has fallen victim to censorship, albeit in real life, after Cambridge University revoked his offer of a visiting fellowship.
The move came in response to a photo in which Peterson was posing alongside a man wearing an Islamophobic T-shirt. Although the 57-year-old public thinker has never been caught promulgating Islamophobia, it appears that the university opted not to give him the benefit of the doubt, conservative-leaning critics have claimed.