Joe Rogan and the N-Word

By now you probably know that Spotify has yanked 70 episodes of Joe Rogan’s podcast. In the wake of that move, Deadline is reporting that Rogan has issued an apology. Singer India Arie, one of the artists who decamped from Spotify circulated a collection of videos showing Rogan using the N-word during multiple podcasts. Arie says that was the reason for her withdrawal from Spotify, but she was among those who departed the platform before this particular news broke. For his part, Rogan maintains that the clips were taken out of context and that he was using the word within larger discussions, not as a racial slur. But he does say that it “looks horrible,” despite the fact that he never intended to offend or demean anyone.

My parents were leftists and huge civil rights supporters. As I have mentioned before, they were aghast at the idea of me dating outside of my race, but they rightly taught me from an early age that the N-word itself was never to be used in any context. And that is one lesson I have managed to hang on to for life.

The word has a horrific and hateful legacy. It was used throughout history to demean and dehumanize an entire race of people. And in some circles, it is still used that way today. I have not gotten everything right in this life, but when I hear that word it brings to mind all of the black people I have known throughout my life. Family friends, friends growing up, and people I have known through adulthood on a personal and professional basis. That word is meant to demean them, which is why I would never use it in any context.

Second, when one uses that word even in order to make a point or in jest, one demeans oneself and speech in general. It does not make one edgy or topical, but rather lazy at best and arrogant at worst. It is an inflammatory and unneeded accessory to the conversation.

Related: Joe Rogan Apologized and Now He’ll Have Hell to Pay

Be that as it may, while Rogan should have thought twice before using the word, it is interesting that the issue has suddenly come to light now. How long have people been metaphorically torching one another at the stake over racism? In the news, sports, academia, and entertainment one person or another has been canceled time and again for far lesser offenses, even those committed by accident or in a moment of careless thought. In a nation of people with their racism detectors set at the highest levels, we are just now discovering that Rogan used the N-word? There was plenty of time to unearth those nuggets.

You know why. It was because it was convenient. Rogan had a differing opinion about addressing COVID-19, making him a de facto racist. All that was needed was some evidence. Rogan’s use of that word, no matter the context, is not the heart of the issue. The heart of the issue is that he was creating a potentially credible threat to the groupthink and the acceptable message and the power structure. One wonders if these comments would have ever resurfaced had Rogan toed the party line. Either the comments of everyone of note are being cataloged to be used at need or there is a cadre of people who take it upon themselves or are designated to mine for the dirt when the time is right, in which case no one is safe.

As I mentioned in my last column, Neil Young used a gay slur during the AIDS epidemic and was pretty vicious about it, too. Joni Mitchell cavorted in blackface as a pimp, helping to reinforce the stereotype that black men must by definition be criminals. Aside from the fact that few people even remember them, they got a pass because of their political position. Will anyone cancel New York City Mayor Eric Adams for referring to white police officers as crackers? Don’t hold your breath. Whoopi Goldberg has been given the chance to explain and redeem herself for her comments on the Holocaust while she gets a two-week vacation. When she comes back, all will be not just forgiven but also forgotten. Rogan’s bumpy ride may just be beginning.

To the leftist elites in the technorati, the government, big business, and entertainment, racism is not a thing to be eradicated or overcome. It is a tool to be weaponized.

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