Spotify paid Rogan a reported $100 million for an exclusive licensing deal in 2020 and has backed his stance on the guests allowed on his show and topics discussed, mostly. Employees and listeners have to ask themselves if their moral compass will enable them to support a company that would do so.

For the most part, the podcast is entertaining for Rogan’s broad audience, who have followed his career from stand-up comedian, the host for the tv show ‘Fear Factor” and UFC announcer. With guests such as geological explorer and renegade scholar Randall Carlson, American whistleblower Edward Snowden, physicist Bob Lazar and even weed-smoking Elon Musk, it seems as if ‘The Joe Rogan Experience’ is a focal point on the internet for entertainment. In an attempt to get his view count up, the Martial Arts expert excels at what he does due to his ability to have a conversation.

Rogan has the artistic freedom to create controversial content that has proved lucrative and made ‘The Joe Rogan Experience’ the most popular podcast in the world. He recently started an uproar among listeners due to the host stating that young and healthy people shouldn’t get vaccinated and championing Ivermectin, an anti-parasite medication used to treat Lupus. The FDA suggests against the use of the drug to treat COVID-19. We have the most potent weapon against coronavirus with the vaccine’s assistance. Conspiracy theories should be considered entertainment and not taken seriously. Even Joe Rogan was pro-vaccine once in an interview with an internationally recognized expert in Infectious Disease Epidemiology Michael Osterholm, so his stance is shifty and best taken with a grain of salt.

In an email sent to employees on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2022, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek stated, “while I strongly condemn what Joe has said and I agree with his decision to remove past episodes from our platform, I realize some will want more, and I want to make one point very clear – I do not believe that silencing Joe is the answer.”

Another thing to consider in regards to Rogan’s controversial commentary is the blatantly racist comments that he has said on his show, which was turned into a compilation video on Instagram. In the video he is heard using the n-word which ended up in circulation on social media. One of the comments showed Rogan arriving via taxi in an African American neighborhood saying, “We got out, and it was like we were in Africa like we were in Planet of the Apes.”

Since the backlash Rogan made a pathetic attempt to retract his overtly offensive statements saying, “I was trying to be entertaining. I certainly wasn’t trying to be racist, and I certainly would never want to offend someone for entertainment with something as stupid as racism.” Also admitting, his show “had become an out-of-control juggernaut.” His attempt at an apology was equally offensive as the original comments.

Amidst the recent backlash, the host promised to balance the information he presents and have better-researched content on his show. Artists Joni Mitchell and Neil Young removed their music from Spotify in protest, inciting the public’s opinion and creating pressure for him to conform. Young has since sent a message to employees asking them to leave Spotify, and the company has answered by removing several episodes of the podcast.

Rogan’s stance reflects enterprise and not the need to continue freedom of speech as promised to American citizens under the Constitution. Although controversial and morally wrong, in some cases, Rogan signed his deal with Spotify with the promise of creative control. While racism and taking full advantage of the media desert in middle America might be wrong, censorship of speech under any circumstances is ill-advised. Doing so would set a precedent allowing almost any artist or American citizen to be silenced based on the gathering of a mob online and the corporate profits affected by the topic. The public should have the right to choose what they listen to and what they ignore which directly affects freedom of speech, like the banning of books, the suppression of people’s voting rights and critical race theory becoming taboo in classrooms.

Although Rogan has made his bed, he is trying to cover his tracks to correct the path his past opinions and outbursts have created, in order to avoid sleeping in it. He has to go back to taking his own advice by pretending he is the hero in his own documentary, face the tough love the internet is about to give him and decide to stop being a loser. Creating art is no excuse for the disrespectful things he has said and felt.

 

Michael Leyva

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