By Ben Pensant
People often ask me “What’s the best thing about being a modern liberal?”. My usual response is to think long and hard then tell them how offended I am at such a problematic question. This gives the asker everything they need to know and if it doesn’t their subsequent arrest for hate crimes bloody well will.
But aside from the trauma of being othered by this insulting line of enquiry – the liberal equivalent of Whitey McWhitearse asking a Black person “Which part of Africa are you from?” – the problem is there are just too many good things about being a modern liberal, which is why I always refuse to answer and have a good cry instead.
All of which explains why we’re so ecstatic about the ongoing cancellation of alt-right podcaster Joe Rogen, ignited by ’70s rocker Neal Young’s principled contribution to the war on misinformation. Because as well as embarrassing a greedy tech company, punishing a slaphead comic for talking to people, and giving leftists the warm glow of knowing we’re right about something because a rich celebrity says so, it also brilliantly illustrates perhaps the bestest thing about being a modern liberal: censoring people we disagree with. Heaven.
And not just any old censorship, but political censorship, via corporate blackmail: the very best kind. Indeed, fans of long-forgotten anti-tabloid campaign Stop Finding Hate will never forget the erotically-charged thrill of seeing right-wing hate-sheets quaking in their jackboots as SFH waged all out war on The Scum and The Torygraph. Young’s valiant attempt to force Sportify’s hand brought back warm memories of the online campaign to stop right-wing rags saying stuff we disagree with by pestering advertisers, a campaign so successful that in five years of non-stop harassment and online bottom-inspecting their one and only success was forcing stationary giant Paperweight to cancel a promotion in the Daily Fail. Which more than made up for the fact that all the newspapers SFH targeted still say stuff we disagree with. Take that, Murdoch!
So when the ageing rocker coolly requested Sportify either ditch Rogen or remove Young’s back catalogue from their platform he reminded us how thrilling demands for censorship can be. Of course, we would never admit our demands censorship are demands for censorship, because they’re not, even though they are. One sure-fire way to swerve this is to deny we’re trying to censor anyone before admitting that actually, yes, we are trying to censor someone, but cleverly removing the word ‘censor’ from the sentence. “No-one wants to censor the Joe Rogen podcast, dummy, we just want Sportify to take it down”. Simples. How anyone could define an artist trying to extort a streaming company into removing a podcast as ‘censorship’ is beyond me but this is the world the right have created with their constant language mangling. The white heterodox cisgender bellends.
Conveniently, even when you’re forced to admit it is censorship – without saying ‘censorship’ – it’s still justifiable because we’re only attempting to censor misinformation: the evil phenomenon that haunts the online world and must be fought wherever it’s found. Unless it’s found in left-wing media in which case it’s not misinformation but a vital tool for fighting oppression.
And when this misinformation literally kills people, the need to censor it is even more justified, even if there’s zero evidence of it killing anyone. Indeed, over the last fortnight the phrase “Joe Rogen spreads misinformation that costs lives!” has fast become so ubiquitous it’s leapfrogged “JK Roland thinks trans people shouldn’t exist!” to become the no.1 sentence modern liberals casually repeat as accepted fact despite being about as factual as Donald Trump’s hair. Ask a Twitter progressive to prove Rogen’s podcast ‘costs lives’ and they’d sooner block you on sight than provide a single example of a person dying because of something Joe Rogen told them to do. In fact, there’s no evidence of Rogen ever telling anyone to do anything, other than eat well, exercise, and watch YouTube videos of raccoons arm-wrestling yetis.
See, another cool thing about being a modern liberal is that we always think people expressing opinions are telling us what to do, because when we express opinions we damn well are telling you what to do. Therefore, if you listen to a podcaster you clearly agree with everything he says. And if said podcaster did something – such as declining the vaccine because he personally didn’t think he needed it – then that obviously means he’s telling his audience to decline the vaccine because they don’t need it. And his followers will do the thing he hasn’t told them to do immediately because that’s what gullible meatheads do. As is always the case with censorship, it’s never about the person being censored: it’s about the ignorant masses too dumb to think for themselves.
Which is why millions of unvaccinated ignoramuses die every day thanks to Rogen. Sure, as anyone who’s listened to his podcast knows, Rogan isn’t anti-vax and has stated several times that he advised family and friends to take it. Luckily, people who’ve listened to his podcast are irrelevant and should be reported to the nearest constabulary immediately before they melt more minds with their ugly blend of facts and fascism.
Because once you let the Rogan narrative be dictated by people who actually know something about him you’re asking for trouble. Go down that road and before you know it you’re learning that the misinformation Rogen has been spreading amounts to – the horror! – criticising lockdowns, condemning vaccine mandates, chatting to people with concerns about the jab, pointing out that young, healthy people are unlikely to get sick from Covid, and worst of all, occasionally saying stuff that turns out to be wrong. Nurse!
Not that we could tell you what was wrong – that would require listening to the podcasts, silly. And nor can we explain why someone being wrong about something is grounds to have them censored. Because we don’t need to. All we know is: Rogen and his guests lied, people died because of it and he must be STOPPED.
As must the right-wing trolls who claim the most effective way to confront Rogen and his gang of quacks is to document and expose their errors and inaccurate claims, some of whom even had the gall to ask why all the high profile politicians, journalists, and celebrities attacking Rogen didn’t use their considerable platforms to address and counter all the things he got wrong. Which is exactly what some treacherous doctors and sciencey people lurking in the dark corners of the internet did, offending liberals everywhere by taking the time to listen to the arguments before patiently rebutting them, when anyone with half a brain knows the most appropriate reaction is to demand Rogen is silenced and call him a murderer.
Fortunately, that long gone era when left-wingers encouraged open debate and welcomed the opportunity to correct wrongs in a mature, non-hysterical manner is well and truly over. Because that would involve, y’know, listening to the podcasts and modern leftists are far too busy fighting white supremacy to waste precious scrolling time researching the things we want banned. Why would a liberal who’s never listened to a Joe Rogen podcast need to listen to a Joe Rogen podcast when he can get the skinny from another liberal who’s never listened to a Joe Rogen podcast?
Some alt-right loons have even claimed that liberals promoting the idea that saying something untrue is grounds for censorship is a risky strategy, especially when progressive outlets like CNBC regularly spread misinformation about Rogen. Others brazenly suggested the misinformation found on these platforms is far worse than that spewed out by Rogen, citing widely disseminated, rarely corrected lies about Russiagate, AnTiFa, Jessie Smollett, Black Life Matters, Woody Alan, Karl Rittenhouse, President Pussy-Grab, the Covington smirk-racists, Michael ‘Jackson’ Wacko, and Covid-18 itself, including a veritable bounty of falsehoods, from denying the virus originated in China, to claiming that cloth masks are 100% effective, to telling viewers the vaccine stops people contracting or spreading the virus, to repeatedly claiming that a drug routinely prescribed to humans for over thirty years is actually a paste given to horses with the shits.
What separates these Nazi chancers from us is that our misinformation is pumped out for the greater good. (You’re welcome.) Our media doesn’t just express unpopular opinions or promote the odd conspiracy theory: we deliberately churn out demonstrably false claims for months and years at a time with nary a correction in sight, unlike pussy-whipped Rogen who regularly demeans himself by admitting he gets stuff wrong, a cardinal sin on the progressive left.
But enough about the Fear Factory bozo. Let him stew, clearly enraged that Young’s censorious stand and the juggernaut it set in motion has introduced even more people to Rogen’s shitty podcast. You might be free to spread hate with your ‘balanced’ discussions for now but the clock’s ticking, baldy. Luckily for Rogen I decided against utterly rattling him with a proper hit-piece but make no mistake, I could. Such is my arsenal of anti-Rogen ammo I even toyed with analysing all the things he’s been wrong about and penning a detailed retort but that would mean listening to his podcasts and there’s no way I’m poisoning my ears with that.
No, this is about Neal Young. His strength, his decency, his unwavering quest to erase things he knows sod all about. So, with a lot of youthful liberals eager to learn more about their new idol they hadn’t heard of a fortnight ago, I took on the task of documenting the previous times Young put his head on the line in the name of social justice.
Unfortunately I didn’t get very far as it appears I know even less about Young than I do about Joe Rogen – and I know shit all about him. Still, I’ll be rectifying that pronto and educating myself on all things Neal Young by reading some Twitter threads about the great man. And thankfully, as Young is officially one of the Good People – he’s married to a mermaid and everything! – there’s zero chance of me finding out anything problematic or cancel-worthy about the his past, such as, I dunno, supporting Ronald Regan or calling gay people ‘faggots’.
This Good Person status is also reflected in the contemporaries who’ve followed his lead by removing their music from Sportify too, such as Young’s ex Joanie Mitchell and Crazy House drummer Nils Lundgren. Principled, passionate, extremely wealthy heroes to a mxn, and it’s especially heartening to know that so many musicians were happy for their content to stay on a streaming service famous for exploiting and ripping off bands but drew the line at them refusing to censor a podcast because a 75-year-old millionaire asked them to.
And it seems the momentum from Young’s principled action shows no sign of slowing down, as the weekend saw Sportify responding to the pressure of online outrage and calculated media manipulation by removing 171 JRE podcasts featuring a who’s who? of offensive comedians, as well as notorious Nazis like Bill &Ted director Kevin Smith and Tool guitarist Maynard James Keegan. Why these episodes were removed and what was offensive about them remains unknown, especially by me as I’ve never listened to them. But Rogen’s presence alone is offensive enough, as anyone who’s watched the craftily edited, context-free compilation video of all the times Rogen used the N-word knows all too well.
Needless to say, Rogen issued a mealy-mouthed Instagran ‘apology’ – his second in a week! – saying sorry for using this vile slur, pathetically pleading that he said it during discussions about the N-word, and would never use it to describe a Black person. This can of course be verified by anyone who’s actually watched the entire videos, but I have no intention of doing that and neither should you. And if you seriously think you can learn more about a person’s feelings towards non-white people by spending years sitting through thousands of hours of footage than you can from watching a handful of split-second clips cynically stitched together to cause maximum offence then I have a rather large budgie to sell you.
Luckily, Rogen was left red-faced again when another clip emerged showing the vile wrestler comparing a suburban Black neighbourhood to the planet full of monkeys from ’80s ci-fi classic Planet Full of Monkeys. Gotcha! Despite the fact that this is the only actual racist comment Rogen has ever made in thousands of shows, combined with the distorted N-word usage it became cast iron evidence that the chrome-domed cretin is a hardcore bigot who thinks black people are apes, as opposed to a stoned comic who attempted a bad joke when shooting the shit with other comics, a joke he immediately admitted sounded racist before continuing with the point of his story, which was about how much fun he had. (Yeah, right.) All of which was naturally removed from the clip doing the rounds just in case anyone deduced Rogan isn’t actually a member of the KKK but a comedian who said something awful ten years ago.
Unsurprisingly, it was revealed today that Patriot Fakes, the harmless group of concerned bottom inspectors who unearthed, cut, and circulated both videos (and indeed much of the blatant Rogen misrepresentations – some might say, ‘misinformation’ – swirling around the internet) have close links with a multi-million dollar PAC run by three brothers, the purpose of which appears to be fighting social justice by collecting eye-watering donations to fund media manipulation campaigns against people the Democrats don’t like. Heroes, in laymxn’s terms. Sadly I can’t tell you anything else about these brave siblings as reports suggest one of them is on record using the N-word in a text message a few years go, so I won’t mention them again and we should all move on and pretend this entire paragraph never happened.
But one thing that definitely did happen this weekend was the auspicious inception of Joe Rogen’s slow, painful cancellation. And we owe it all to one Old Man. So please join me as I raise a mungbean smoothie and salute Neal Young’s principled protest, his astounding bravery, and his commitment to taking no shit from a paranoid conspiracy theorist podcaster who as well as being a virulent racist is clearly a deep cover shill paid to spread misinfo by the military industrial complex. And the Jews.
Anyway, that’s enough science-denying crackpots for one day. If you’ll excuse me I’m planning to toast Rogen’s demise by listening to Young’s 2015 concept album about the dangers of genetically modified crops. I hear the track that explains how Frankenstein carrots cause autism is an absolute banger.
Keep on rockin!