I cagily stood in front of the famed venue — The Beacon Theatre (est. 1929 — also the same year that the Wall Street Crash occurred and the Academy Awards began, which is completely unrelated and irrelevant to the rest of this piece but there’s your history lesson for today). I was awfully expectant. I wasn’t sure of what. But I do know I was expecting something, anyway. Maybe a mass of protesters — just for the appetizer. Then, probably something like a grand and sickly satisfying main course of MAGA hats, Pepe memes, and then to top it off: a meme-screeching 4chan platoon bringing up the rear.
None of that, though. The presentation of this psychic dish was underwhelming and modest in all the best ways. Dr. Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote for Chaos. Halfway through my cigarette, I glanced behind me. There was a line of patrons — most talking among themselves. Through shameless eavesdropping, I noticed quite a few people were discussing aspects of Peterson’s lectures. The best part, was that a lot of them were strangers to each other, but they shared common values. Those same common values that prompted a guy in front of me to start small talk. This was great. My tactic of intently studying a brick wall to avoid this exact thing fell short. He soon informed me how he came from his university in Boston that morning for the talk.
While we conversed, I was made immediately aware of a fully black-clad gentleman who looked a lot like a shorter, meeker, and more tan Tommy Wiseau.
I turned to my newfound freedom fighter and said:
“Look to my left. I think he’s a plant.”
“What?” He was smiling but seemed to ooze slight confusion at my spontaneous paranoia.
“I think he’s Antifa. He’s on his phone. I think he’s calling in the cavalry. You never know… You know about Antifa, don’t you?”
“Yeah, they’re mainly out in the West coast, right?”
There I was, unsure if he was just playing along, understood my ramblings, or planning an escape route.
“Well. Given the dire-ness of the situation, I’ll be back if I can. But I’m heading to the end of this line. I need to study his habits. You know, it’s like an ant — an ant that acquires the taste of soy, and then returns to the colony to start the trend. Classic hive mind behavior. Before you know it, you have an infestation of them. Carrying off helpless vegan alternatives to meat and free speech alike.”
This guy was a good sport. He humored this noble mission — at least I had hoped so. We spoke a bit more about both our future prospects. I asked him what he was majoring in.
“Robotic Engineering,” he told me.
We spoke on that a bit, I was impressed. Here was this aspiring senior making the utmost of his potential, making me ever more ever conscious of the fact that I’d left college a year prior. Temporarily giving up on a college diploma for rehab completion certificates (I’m up to five now, and I’ve heard they really help in job interviews). Rampant drug abuse will do that.
But we were united under the respect of personal choice, responsibility, and being accountable for our own individual mistakes rather than “white guilt,” or some ancestral sin. That was the magic of this whole event. Peterson is a major advocate for personal responsibility, among other things that I find just as important. In his 12 Rules for Life, his 6th rule goes something like “set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world.”
Peterson would tell the audience that societies have improved just from the masses taking up and managing their own dilemmas – later passing on those lessons to those around them, then after that even onto their community. On that same topic, a member of the audience later asked during the Q&A about protesters, about when protest is worthwhile or justified (I’ll get to that later).
It’s important to note here that Mr. NoMoreMrWhiteKnight dressed in all black began to walk off. Still, to this day, I’m convinced that he was the sole Antifa sadboi. The only one that actually decided to show up.
Once there was no sign of any demonstration, I decided to re-enter the line. When I finally took my seat, it took at least half an hour to fill up the room. Eventually, the lights dimmed and the crowd went wild. The applause was more fitting for a rock star coming back from a long hiatus. Dave Rubin from The Rubin Report took the stage, mic in hand. He started to crack jokes, getting the crowd warmed up. Although, it’s important to note that if the crowd were anymore warmed up than the theater likely would’ve combusted (much like the finale of Inglorious Bastards — yes, minus the whole Nazi part).
“We tried inviting Kathy Griffin to introduce Professor Peterson, but sadly she was unavailable.”
After about three minutes of a pretty solid routine, he went:
“Now ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for Dr. Jordan Peterson!”
Then it happened, the man himself waltzed out, rocking his new and classy “time for a world tour” facial hair.
After the crowd settled down, and Peterson was able to get a word in he said:
“I came here about an hour and a half ago, and there were people lined up along the block. I thought, what the hell are you all doing for God sake,” chuckling a bit as he spoke.
When Peterson got into the flow of it, the talk was filled with the same thoughtfulness, intensity, and straightforwardness as one could see in any of his videos. He also managed to throw in a nice blend of humor and clever quips, which the crowd responded to nicely. The content heavily mirrored the 12 Rules for Life videos that he’s been cool enough to put out on YouTube for free.
The talk went on for about an hour and a half. Unfortunately, Peterson only got up to around the 7th step due to venue timing (thanks capitalism). Still, it was both super enjoyable and informative all at once. The principle drawback, however, was the lack of a rewind button. There’s something that I’ve gotten way too used to with a lot of his talks. This proved to be an issue once he’d drop a philosophical napalm bomb across the audience, and then move on to his logical point. If you’re anything me, then that thirty-second “let-me-ponder-this-and-forget-to-keep-my-senses-running” daydream period didn’t help too much. I picked up a few gems during this whole talk – well, more specifically I lugged a bag of gems away from this talk.
Especially after the event. The Q&A was just phenomenal — well… the part that I heard after my smoke break (American Spirits take like fifteen minutes to smoke, okay?) You could tell that the attendants gave a lot of thought to what they asked. Just for example, the final two questions were about protest and gun control, respectively. I’ll just go ahead and throw the transcript for the protest question right down here.
(If you want to check out Peterson’s very nuanced and well-spoken stance on gun control, here’s a lengthy reading from his book: https://youtu.be/GYua-3JmnT4 )
Q: “I’m asking you, when is it okay to protest? And in your mind how do you see a successful protest. How would you protest?”
P: “I think it’s okay to protest when you’re willing to take responsibility for the consequences… And not when you’re not.”
P: “I think [inaudible] people protesting take absolutely no responsibility for the consequences of their actions. And so, I think it’s mostly cheap virtue. Now that doesn’t mean there isn’t time for protest. I mean, I protested I suppose when I made my video. Well, it was a form of protest. It was more of a refusal.”
*the writer’s cough from the aforementioned cigarette break is heard*
P: “I was perfectly willing to take the consequences of what I did and I put myself in a situation where that was highly probable.”
After the final question Dave Rubin leveled the mic back up to his face and announced the event’s conclusion:
“Dr. Jordan Peterson, everybody!”
Waiting twelve seconds in order for the crowd to calm down, Dr. Peterson probably realized this wouldn’t happen. Through mad applause, he exclaimed
“Thank you. I’d like to thank you very much, everyone. It was lovely having you here tonight. Well, go out, and… knock em dead.” And I wouldn’t have been able to end it better.