Is Joe Rogan right cancel culture will silence "straight, white men?"


Fact Box

  • Joe Rogan is an American comedian, a former Mixed Martial Arts fighter, and host of his podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience.”
  • Cancel culture is the practice of mass canceling as a form of “expressing disapproval and exerting social pressure.” This comes in various forms of calling out behavior on social media, boycotting the public figure in question, and removing their platform and power. 
  • Last Thursday, May 13, 2021, Joe Rogan stated in his podcast “The Joe Rogan Experience,” “It’ll eventually get to a point where straight White men aren’t allowed to talk because it’s your privilege to express yourself when other people of color have been silenced throughout history.”
  • Tuesday, May 19, 2020, Spotify made a deal with Rogan to bring his show “exclusively” to their platform for $100 million with no control over his content.

Elizabeth (Yes)

Joe Rogan isn't wrong about the eventuality of woke society silencing straight White men. By his own admission, Rogan's a knucklehead. He's also a thoughtful conversationalist who will engage just about anyone on just about any topic at length. The result is that he's considered polarizing and ends up with a 'cancellation attempt' about every other week. 

This latest round is focused on his comments regarding the silencing of straight White males if cancel culture continues. While this, too, probably won't keep Rogan down, the arguments against him are as good an example as any about how narrow acceptable conversation is becoming. A Jezebel article unironically celebrates how some things men might have openly discussed in the 90s are now inadmissible in today's society. Shining sunlight on terrible ideas is the best way to challenge and excise those ideas. Silencing them only allows them to fester in the dark. 

Fighting for the traditionally marginalized is truly worthy, but viewing life through a victim/oppressor lens assumes everything is a power struggle. It ends up wanting former oppressors to become the oppressed. Equality doesn't mean marginalizing someone else; it means finding ways of bringing everyone up. If we truly want to create a culture shift, we're better served by intentionally including even those we vehemently disagree with because it's in the honest discussion that productive change happens. 

It makes sense that where Rogan sees all this going is a long, dark, constantly narrowing path where historical power brokers are shoved off the cliff of acceptability. Straight White men don't need to decide where the path goes, but they shouldn't be prevented from being on it.

Kevin (No)

Joe Rogan made his complaint that 'it'll eventually get to where straight White men are not allowed to talk' from what has been described as 'one of the world's biggest podcasts.' Forbes recently estimated that Rogan's podcast receives 'over 200 million monthly listens and views,' which seems to indicate that he is not in any danger of being silenced as a 'straight, white man.' Another man of similar attributes who likes to make such claims, Sean Hannity, has a reported net worth in the realm of $250 million. His syndicated radio show gets around 13.5 million listeners per week. Looking at the bigger picture, the majority of Fortune 500 CEOs are still White men.

In a piece for Bloomberg's Opinion section, Pankaj Mishra points out how such complaints so often come from people in positions of power, who view so-called 'cancel culture' as a threat to 'the prerogative of famous and powerful people to speak at length on all sorts of things without interruption or disagreement.' In reality, as Joe Berkowitz explains in Fast Company, what's happening is that 'more people than ever have the means to let you know what no longer falls within reason.' Those who are not 'straight, white men' have historically been the ones who were kept quiet, and now that more of them are speaking out, the change is shocking to some who have taken advantage of past circumstances. As Berkowitz says, even if the method of those speaking out 'is sometimes far too aggressive,' that doesn't equate to the silencing Rogan fears.

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