Controversial podcast should remain on Spotify

Artists are boycotting Spotify due to the Joe Rogan Experience (JRE) podcast


Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Boycotting Spotify because of Joe Rogan is an example of declining willingness to hear opposing viewpoints.

Conor Metzger, Staff Columnist

 The debate on free speech returned when 270 doctors and researchers sent an open letter to Spotify with concerns regarding some of the claims made on the Joe Rogan Experience (JRE) podcast. These specific concerns are directed at two recent guests, cardiologist Dr. Peter McCullough and mRNA expert Dr. Robert Malone, who have questioned the effectiveness of vaccines and the severity of COVID-19. The signatories of the letter claim that guests like these spread harmful misinformation and are a danger to the public.

A few weeks after this letter was published, Neil Young announced he would be pulling his music from Spotify in protest of the misinformation Joe Rogan was allowing to appear on his show. Several other artists followed suit, leading to a response from Spotify that backed Rogan. Spotify also announced that they would put COVID-19 disclaimers on certain episodes and would begin directing people to a COVID-19 information center. 

Rogan released his own statement in support of Spotify’s decision and said he would try to bring on more balanced guests with opposing views right after hosting controversial figures like Malone and McCullough. 

Society is moving towards a loss of individuality and public debate.

Now, I could have told you a month ago that Spotify would support Rogan. Not only is he providing an outlet for silenced voices, but he also attracts around 11 million listeners per episode, something Spotify paid $100 million to have exclusive rights to. Rogan also appeals to a large and diverse audience that tune in for a range of topics and guests, as well as opinions outside of the mainstream media.

Let’s face it, the media has dropped the ball with COVID-19. Changes and developments occur regularly, and the media has responded with a lack of honesty and open-mindedness to new information. For instance, if you were to claim that COVID-19 came from a lab in May 2020, you would be censored on social media and discredited on CNN. Now, it is a credible theory on the origins of COVID-19. 

New information is always being learned about this subject, as reports surface on the effectiveness of vaccines, the risk of myocarditis or the development of treatment methods like Ivermectin. Are all these claims substantiated? I’m not sure, but just silencing these claims stops them from being evidenced and simply draws more attention to them. 

This is one of my biggest issues with people like Young. When we censor people and prevent their opinions from being heard, we direct more attention to them and inadvertently cause more people to subscribe to them in a “stick it to the mainstream” type of way. When people who are tired of the one or two opinions that are meant to represent the entire population hear of someone being silenced, they are drawn to it. When Young calls for the silencing of people who divert away from the mainstream, he is only giving more credence to those people. 

The other issue I take with Young’s decision is that he also told people to listen to his music. In his statement, Young promoted Amazon Music as a platform that was more aligned with his values and an app that people should visit instead. Yes, that is right, Young is supporting Amazon, with their inhumane treatment of workers and their dastardly environmental impact. Neil Young’s decision to turn to them to fight the “deadly” Spotify (his words) is just moronic and shows how out of touch liberal celebrities are from the rest of society. 

I encourage you to form your own opinions instead of taking them from talking heads or celebrity tweets. What makes “JRE” so great is that it includes a variety of opinions on a variety of subjects. People listen because they know they will get some fresh take or new idea. It’s also important to expose yourself to a variety of opinions that you may not necessarily agree with. I watched the Malone podcast, and I read what Dr. Vinay Prasad had to say when he scientifically went through some of Dr. Malone’s claims instead of debasing them without evidence because they didn’t fit a network’s agenda. 

Every day, stories like that of Young and Rogan display how our society is moving towards a loss of individuality and public debate. We must act now and not let corporate entities silence voices that could change people’s minds. We need to wake up to the fact that no one is right all the time — whether it’s the CDC, Fox or CNN. Debate needs to be encouraged in an open setting so that people can be exposed to a plethora of opinions. Our country was not built from a mainstream opinion, but from the opinions of many. We cannot lose sight of that, lest our freedom be taken away and never recovered.