If you watch the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) or love mindless conspiracy theories and white men commenting on racism they’ve never experienced, you probably know Joe Rogan.
Rogan is a comedian, UFC commentator, podcast host and second cousin to Gerard and Mikey Way of the famous band My Chemical Romance. That last fact is not as important, but if I am burdened with that knowledge, so are all of you.
In one of Rogan’s many controversies, he found himself stuck in the middle of an ultimatum from singer Neil Young. Young demanded Spotify either remove Rogan’s podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience,” or remove Young’s music catalog. Spotify announced they would remove Young’s discography instead of Rogan’s podcast.
In my opinion, I believe Spotify refuses to remove Rogan’s misinformation-filled podcast because he makes the streaming platform more money than Young.
However, according to an article released by The Verge, Dustee Jenkins, Spotify’s head of global communications and public relations, claims that a review by an internal team didn’t show sufficient grounds for removal of “The Joe Rogan Experience” from the platform.
Jenkins allegedly stated in the company Slack that Rogan’s podcast “didn’t meet the threshold for removal.”
The Verge also contributed a leak of Spotify’s healthcare guidelines and what they prohibit on the platform. It said they do not allow messages such as “denying the existence of AIDS or COVID-19” or “suggesting that consuming bleach can cure various illnesses and diseases.”
Ashley Carman, the author of The Verge article, writes, “These guidelines seemingly allow podcasters to say the vaccines cause death — just not that they are designed to cause death.”
There seems to be a lot of protection for those who are causing chaotic revolts against science and enabling the spread of falsehoods around the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Jessica Malaty Rivera, an infectious disease epidemiologist and research fellow at Boston Children’s Hospital gave insight about Rogan’s antics to Rolling Stone. Rivera and hundreds of qualified medical professionals are calling on Spotify to de-platform Rogan for the sake of the truth.
“When I saw they were falling victim to this, I spoke to some colleagues and we said something has to be done at this point,” Rivera said.
Dr. Ben Rein, a neuroscientist at Stanford University, also weighed in.
“People who don’t have the scientific or medical background to recognize the things he’s saying are not true and are unable to distinguish fact from fiction are going to believe what [Rogan’s podcast guest is] saying, and this is the biggest podcast in the world,” Rein said. “And that’s terrifying.”
We as people need to recognize that the First Amendment should function to protect the truth, not justify harmful lies.
Rogan is a comedian, not a medical professional by any means, and is spewing misinformation without any credible evidence. He is causing hysteria and unrest as he defames actual doctors who are trying to save lives.
I stand for people’s freedom of speech and for those who want to speak their truth to the world. People need to speak freely to criticize oppressors, tyranny and the powers above.
However, I do not stand for the protection of liars, especially when that liar is using his enormous platform to discredit those in the medical field. Even within anti-vaxxer coalitions, this kind of rhetoric could result in fatalities.
Doug Kuzma, a 61-year old anti-vaxxer and right-wing podcaster caught COVID-19 at a rally in December. While he was sick, his Facebook posts reflected his staunch refusal to even get tested, seemingly out of fear of receiving medical care.
“There’s no way bro,” Kuzma said. “I’ll die at the house before I go to the hospital.”
Rogan is using his enormous platform to contribute to an unhealthy environment where people who don’t know any better could put the lives of themselves and their loved ones at risk. Spotify, do the responsible thing and cut him off.