We are spending too much time talking about Joe Rogan, and Joe Rogan is spending too much time apologizing.
“Whenever you’re in a situation where you have to say, ‘I’m not racist,’ you fucked up,” Rogan apologized on February 5. “And I clearly have fucked up.”
Rogan was addressing a montage that is circulating on social media, showing him saying the N-word on multiple episodes of his podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience. When Joe describes the montage as “the most regretful and shameful thing that I’ve ever had to talk about publicly,” I believe him. And I don’t think Joe made a mistake apologizing. That was Joe expressing his authentic self.
But I do think Joe misstepped when he said, “Now, I know that to most people, there’s no context where a white person is ever allowed to say that word — never mind publicly on a podcast. And I agree with that.”
Context matters. It must — even for white people. There is clearly a difference between a white racist calling a black person the N-word and the late DMX prompting an all-white crowd to shout the word back at him during a song, or Joe Biden reading the word off a transcript at an official hearing back in the day.
Plus, throughout his apology, Joe — Rogan, not Biden — points out that the clips of him saying the N-word were taken out of context. But under the rubric of “context doesn’t matter,” there is no way to interpret what Joe said as anything but racist. Even though it is obvious that he is not racist, his views on the word have changed, and he is performing a sincere act of contrition.
If we say context doesn’t matter when it comes to matters of race, we give bad-faith actors more ammunition to take down their enemies. When the goal is censorship, they will weaponize whatever they can. Just look at what they’re doing with Joe “Misinformation” Rogan. “I’m disgusted by Joe Rogan’s weak apology,” runs a headline to Margaret Sullivan’s response at the Washington Post. “My former colleague’s death at forty-seven makes it worse.”
Somehow, Joe Rogan is responsible for the death of an unvaccinated, overweight asthmatic man. Sullivan is not even sure he listened to The Joe Rogan Experience. Seriously. Not to give the censors any more ideas, but her deceased colleague happened to be a person of color. Did Rogan’s past use of the n-word have something to do with his death too?
Appeasement won’t satisfy the partisan mob that’s gunning to censor Joe: it’ll encourage them.
Only last month, Joe was catching heat over alleged Covid misinformation. Music legends Neil Young and Joni Mitchell demanded that their music be pulled from Spotify, so as not to share the streaming platform with the “anti-science” Rogan.
Neil Young is fine being wrong about GMOs. He was wrong about AIDS in 1985, when he said, “You go to a supermarket and you see a faggot behind the fucking cash register — you don’t want him to handle your potatoes.” And Joni Mitchell is fine suffering from Morgellons disease — well, she’s obviously not fine — but the “disease,” according to medical literature, teeters on make-believe.
Now I never took Covid advice from Joe Rogan, and I still haven’t listened to his controversial episodes with Dr. Robert Malone and Dr. Peter McCullough. I took the advice of more mainstream experts: the ones who got a lot of this Covid stuff wrong. As Joe pointed out when he responded to the “misinformation” charges, there were opinions deemed “misinformation” — things you could get deplatformed for expressing — that are now considered either true or at least acceptable to discuss in polite online society: the Wuhan lab-leak theory, natural immunity, the ineffectiveness of cloth masks and lockdowns, to name a few.
I imagine the powers that be — you know, the ones who are responsible for actual Covid policies and body counts — are happy that Joe is getting all the attention. The public still doesn’t know what role the stand-up comedian played in gain-of-function research or why the UFC color commentator enacted policies that sent Covid-positive patients into nursing homes. We demand answers, Joe!
I would like an apology too. Not from Joe Rogan, but from the people whose misinformation I actually bought into. If those apologies ever come, I doubt they will be sincere.