Cancel Joe Rogan?
So, Spotify has pulled 113 Joe Rogan episodes, some of them in which he used the N-word and once he referred to a black community with a deeply disturbing derogatory comparison. He apologized and agreed to the episodes being taken down. But didn’t he get popular partly because he doesn’t pull punches and is willing to say what is offensive? He probably built his audience partly on that angle. The community of regular listeners he has assembled is not likely to be very sensitive to racism. Those episodes have been up for years.
But this was all triggered by his interviews with Peter McCullough and Robert Malone. I listened to the first one. He didn’t have the information handy to debunk McCullough’s incorrect statements and conservative conspiracy leanings. You’d expect that of a journalist, but Joe Rogan? He’s become king of podcasts with 11 million listeners per episode and therefore when he spreads misinformation, he is the biggest spreader. That’s a problem.
I’m not OK with canceling people for their sins. That’s not dealing with the root of the problem. It’s more like cutting the head off of a weed that will continue to grow. I think all justice should be restorative where we collectively own the problem and take responsibility for solving it. We made a UFC fighter comedian into the biggest journalist of our day. Why? How has our culture become so undiscerning of the gatekeepers of information? Are we so pleasure-driven and tribal that we only want to hear the voices that we agree with? And is it our guilty pleasure to hear someone say the immature sexist or racist things we would like to but can’t? Perhaps we have a lot of maturing to do ourselves, even if we feel we are on the morally correct side of this.
Canceling somebody feels good because it is an immediate response, somebody else is responsible, and their face goes away when effectively canceled, removing the problem from our purview. That’s very convenient. What would be more effective for our culture, however? Corrective actions? Collective responsibility for the pain being revealed? If Joe Rogan is taking this seriously as a teaching moment and willing to actually change his ways, I’m all for it. His example might lead others to mature as well and take more responsibility for the problems in our society. Do you know what canceling his podcast would do? Create a counter-culture Spotify rival to host him and others, like 4chan, growing a movement of racist, conspiracy-theory driven anti-social dissidents. Which would you prefer?