Politics Foreign Affairs Culture Fellows Program

Joe Rogan Vs. Censorious Boomer Gods

Once-great Joni Mitchell and Neil Young practice strategic self-cancellation as a weapon of culture war
Screen Shot 2022-01-28 at 10.04.35 PM

Neil Young now has an ally in his fight against Spotify over Joe Rogan’s show:

On Friday, the singer-songwriter posted a statement, titled “I Stand With Neil Young!”, to her website announcing the decision.

“I’ve decided to remove all my music from Spotify. Irresponsible people are spreading lies that are costing people their lives,” Mitchell wrote. “I stand in solidarity with Neil Young and the global scientific and medical communities on this issue.”

That Mitchell would openly support Young’s stand against the streaming giant should come as no surprise; the singers, who both got their start in the Canadian folk scene, have been friends for nearly six decades.

The move comes just several days after Young first demanded Spotify pull his catalog over claims that the company was actively promoting the spread of misinformation about vaccines and the Covid-19 pandemic — particularly via the massively popular podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience.

“I am doing this because Spotify is spreading fake information about vaccines — potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them,” the “Southern Man” singer wrote Monday in a since-deleted post on his website. “They can have [Joe] Rogan or Young. Not both.”

Spotify can survive the loss of Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, two past greats who have not been relevant to popular music for many years. But if this becomes a trend in showbiz, Spotify will be in trouble.

On the other hand, Joe Rogan’s podcast draws over 11 million listeners monthly. His is the most popular podcast in the English-speaking world. It’s easy to see why when you listen to it. He actually listens to people, and is not keen on following the herd. You don’t have to agree with Rogan to find him interesting and important. It’s really ironic that these leading voices of Sixties culture — Young and Mitchell — have decided that Joe Rogan needs to be silenced, and that they’re going to do whatever they can to shut him up.

I’m not a regular listener to anybody’s podcasts, but boy, it chaps my a*s that these Boomer censors are trying to force Rogan off of Spotify. This is how the Left rolls these days: silence the heretics. They don’t even care if they know what they’re talking about. Here is Chloé Valdary calling out Trevor Noah for faulting Rogan and his guest Jordan Peterson for saying something Bad, even thought they actually were agreeing with Noah’s point of view!

I’m only an occasional listener to Rogan’s podcast, and any podcast, but seeing the enemies the man has made, and that they oppose him by trying to get him cancelled, makes me eager to defend him, even though I strongly disagree with him on some things (e.g., drugs, porn, Bernie Sanders). Joe Rogan has a right to be wrong, and I have a right to hear him and his guests be wrong, if I want to. Of course Young and Mitchell have the right to pull their music from Spotify, but do they really want to start this war? As artists, do they really want to put themselves in the position of playing self-righteous censors (because that’s what they’re trying to do: compel Spotify to cancel Rogan’s show).

Neil Young and Joni Mitchell once dwelled in the pop culture niche now inhabited by Joe Rogan. I wonder how they would have reacted had Bing Crosby and other top crooners of the previous generation tried to get their record labels to throw them off because he believed they were a bad influence on society. Well, they have become hypothetical Bing Crosby. I don’t care if younger musicians love or hate Joe Rogan, but I do hope that they don’t follow these crotchety, censorious Canadians’ lead in using strategic self-cancellation as a new weapon in the culture war. This will not end well for any of us.

UPDATE: This is excellent:

Second, what is it with you people who cannot understand that to disapprove of how someone chooses to exercise their free speech rights is not the same thing as denying that they have those rights? If a white racist doesn’t want to do business with a particular store because the store owner is black, I would defend the racist’s right to withhold his business, even as I condemned his reason for so doing. Same thing here. I support the right of Young and Mitchell to withdraw their music from Spotify, but deplore their reason for doing so.

And please, spare me the “Neil Young doesn’t want to censor anybody” lie. He said himself that Spotify can have him, or it can have Rogan, but not both. He was only willing to stay with Spotify if it kicked Rogan off the platform. That is censorship, no matter what you call it.