Black queer feminist author Roxane Gay has pulled her podcast, The Roxane Gay Agenda, from Spotify because the platform continues to carry Joe Rogan, whose podcast spreads misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines.
On The Joe Rogan Experience, the host has made “false claims that Covid vaccines are ‘essentially a gene therapy’” and featured guests who offer “dangerous misinformation about Covid and other topics,” Gay wrote in Thursday’s New York Times. Rogan sometimes says he is simply curious, which is “a convenient way of shirking accountability for misleading people about their life-or-death health decisions,” she continued.
“Sometimes, racism is sprinkled in his conversations, just to keep things interesting,” she noted. Something she didn’t mention is that Rogan often features anti-transgender rhetoric.
Gay emphasized that she is not for censorship but for curation, and she explained the difference between the two. “When we are not free to express ourselves, when we can be thrown in jail or even lose our lives for speaking freely, that is censorship,” she wrote. “When we say, as a society, that bigotry and misinformation are unacceptable, and that people who espouse those ideas don’t deserve access to significant platforms, that’s curation.”
She commented on the dangerous effects of misinformation: “Misinformation has contributed to tens of millions of people believing the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump. It contributed to the Jan. 6 insurrection. And misinformation has helped prolong the Covid-19 pandemic and encouraged people to do dangerous things such as injecting bleach or taking Ivermectin, a horse deworming paste.”
She joins musicians Joni Mitchell and Neil Young in taking material off Spotify. She pulled her podcast and its archives as of Tuesday, but it will be available elsewhere.
“It was a difficult decision — there are a lot of listeners on the platform, and I may never recoup that audience elsewhere,” she concluded. “I am not trying to impede anyone’s freedom to speak. Joe Rogan and others like him can continue to proudly encourage misinformation and bigotry to vast audiences. They will be well rewarded for their efforts. The platforms sharing these rewards can continue to look the other way. But today at least, I won’t.”