The Rogan Controversy: Cancel Culture’s ‘Emperor Has No Clothes’ Moment - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The Rogan Controversy: Cancel Culture’s ‘Emperor Has No Clothes’ Moment

The Joe Rogan controversy took on a Life of Brian quality this week.

“So, as a blasphemer, you are to be stoned to death,” John Cleese’s high priest informs a condemned man in the 1975 film.

“Look, I had a lovely supper,” the chained, almost naked prisoner responds, “and all I said to my wife was that piece of halibut was good enough for Jehovah.”

When the high priest informs the eager mob to stop throwing stones until he gives the signal, even if someone were to say “Jehovah,” they promptly stone him to death.

A current comedian’s would-be cancellers compiled a decontextualized montage of clips showing him, over the course of more than a decade of hosting a show that often runs three hours long, saying a racial slur common in rap parlance and in the rhetoric of some Democratic Party members 65 years ago. Joe Rogan, even if saying an ugly, hurtful word deserving exile from his vocabulary, clearly quoted someone else using that word — the same offense committed by the purveyors of the video — in most instances.

When does the stoning of those high priests begin? They quoted our “Jehovah” word, after all, too.

Cancel culture’s “emperor has no clothes” moment hopefully arrived in Joe Rogan refusing to sign off, and Spotify sticking by him, this month. Atop saying the taboo word, Rogan offended the high priests by allegedly spreading COVID “misinformation.” If so, he stands among prestigious company.

“You’re not going to get COVID if you have these vaccinations,” Joe Biden claimed this past summer.

Do we really hold a tattooed podcaster known for encouraging game-show contestants to eat leeches to a higher standard than the leader of the free world?

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky spread misinformation in March when she claimed that “vaccinated people do not carry the virus, don’t get sick — it’s not just in the clinical trials but also it’s in real-world data.”

When do tech companies deplatform her?

“Instead of the virus being able to hop from person to person to person, potentially mutating and becoming more virulent and drug-resistant along the way, now we know that the vaccines work well enough that the virus stops with every vaccinated person,” Rachel Maddow declared on her MSNBC program on March 29. “A vaccinated person gets exposed to the virus. The virus does not infect them. The virus cannot then use that person to go anywhere else. It cannot use a vaccinated person as a host to get more people. That means the vaccines will get us to the end of this.”

Should Neil Young issue a Man-Needs-a-Maid-or-Maddow ultimatum to MSNBC?

The bullies who do not let you watch Live PD, removed episodes of The Mighty Boosh, The Sarah Silverman Program, and The Golden Girls from your streaming services, banned Meghan Murphy from Twitter for saying “men aren’t women,” disappeared Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima, fired a cop for making an ostensibly anonymous $25 donation to the defense fund of an innocent teenager, and Talibanned the bronzed likenesses of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Christopher Columbus tried to Chris Harrison Joe Rogan, Mike Richards his program, and Gina Carano his character.

File under: too big to fail. Like Dave Chappelle and Tucker Carlson, Rogan emerges stronger from that which did not kill his career. The trauma-bonding ensures a more loyal audience.

When do the control freaks apologize to the millions of Spotify listeners of The Joe Rogan Experience for trying to permanently mute their favorite show? If embracing heterodox medical ideas on a program known for freewheeling conversations requires contrition, then certainly impersonating a Stalin-era commissar necessitates public groveling, too. (READ MORE: Joe Rogan Ought to Take Rumble’s Offer)

Of course, the commissar never sees himself as trampling on freedom. But he tacitly acknowledges the shame in their means and ends by hiding behind social media handles and back-channel pressure campaigns. At least Thomas Bowdler and Anthony Comstock gave their names to words denoting suppression. Their cowardly inheritors bowdlerize their own names from cowardly campaigns to delete rather than debate. But the same type of internet sleuthing that led to finds of Rogan uttering an ugly word led to a Democratic Party super PAC called MeidasTouch, founded by Ben, Brett, and Jordan Meisales, which allegedly unleashed the crude, career-killing montage.

Might we, à la comstockery and bowdlerize, coin a word, “Meisalean” or “Meisalism” or “Meisally,” denoting the effort to suppress dissenting speech by destroying lives and livelihoods?

Our commissars cite “bigotry” and “misinformation” as a sort of dispensation allowing clean consciences for the abrogation of a basic human right: free expression. When those abracadabra words fail to make pangs of conscience disappear at becoming a scold, then “Russian disinformation” works, as it did in suppressing information damaging to Joe Biden during the 2020 campaign, as a catch-all. And those who guard us from words dangerous to our ears come in the form of … wait for it …. those same corporate one-percenters depicted with horns, pitchfork, and angular Van Dyke beard less than a decade ago.

COVID, in fulfilling the narcissistic vision of busybodies imagining themselves as saviors, green-lights bypassing democracy, rights, and especially manners. So, even the spokesman of the leader of the free world jumped on the pig pile atop free expression by saying of Spotify that “more that can be done” after the removal of dozens of Joe Rogan Experience episodes. When a government spokesperson wants to further curtail a private citizen’s ability to speak, it is later creepier than you think.

A free society punishes authorities for reckless speech and permits individuals to say whatever. A totalitarian society punishes individuals for unauthorized speech and permits the authorities to say whatever.

Which society does the United States more resemble in the winter of 2022?

If this depresses, remember: always look on the bright side of life. In the 1970s, several prominent Christian moralists gained ridicule from the Left for regarding Life of Brian as blasphemy. Today, its scene in which Stan announces his desire to become Loretta and have babies — “It’s every man’s right to have babies if he wants them” — for comedic effect makes it blasphemy to the woke.

Hopefully the woke soon wake up to the fact that they have met their punchline, and it is them.

Daniel J. Flynn
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Daniel J. Flynn, a senior editor of The American Spectator, is the author of Cult City: Harvey Milk, Jim Jones, and 10 Days That Shook San Francisco (ISI Books, 2018), The War on Football (Regnery, 2013), Blue Collar Intellectuals (ISI Books, 2011), A Conservative History of the American Left (Crown Forum, 2008), Intellectual Morons (Crown Forum, 2004), and Why the Left Hates America (Prima Forum, 2002). His articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, New York Post, City Journal, National Review, and his own website,   
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