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A legendary rock star's called bluff

A legendary rock star's called bluff


A legendary rock star's called bluff

Rocker Neil Young's attempt to bully Spotify into discontinuing Joe Rogan's wildly popular podcast contains a lesson for the cancel culture – but don't expect them to learn anything from it.

Robert Knight
Robert Knight

Robert Knight is a columnist for The Washington Times and a Senior Fellow for Bishop E.W. Jackson’s Staying True to America’s National Destiny. His latest book is "The Coming Communist Wave:  What Happens If the Left Captures All Three Branches of Government".

Few things are as satisfying as watching a bully get a comeuppance.

It's a staple of popular literature. Thriller writer Brad Thor often includes a sequence in which his hero, Scot Harvath, comes upon somebody bullying some victim and takes matters into his own hands.

It's not so much revenge, which is only the Lord's to take, but a sense of satisfied justice. It's why Ralphie's beatdown of "Scut" Farkus in "A Christmas Story" never gets old.

This past week, rock icon Neil Young tried to bully Spotify into discontinuing Joe Rogan's wildly popular podcast, "The Joe Rogan Experience." The veteran rocker of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and Buffalo Springfield told the streaming platform to unplug Mr. Rogan or else remove all of Mr. Young's songs.

On Wednesday, Spotify said: Okay, see you later, Neil.

You could almost hear Lynyrd Skynyrd crooning to Mr. Young that, "A Southern man don't need him around anyhow." The rock band's Ronnie Van Zant wrote "Sweet Home Alabama" (1974) after Mr. Young trashed the region in his accusatory "Southern Man" song in 1970 and again in 1972's "Alabama."

While "Southern Man" and "Alabama" have faded, "Sweet Home Alabama" is a timeless, monster hit.

"This idea that someone who has star status can go around stomping on people with whom he disagrees is wrong – and it actually is refreshing to see Spotify push back and say 'No, we're not going to censor Joe Rogan just because Neal Young wants us to.'" (Robert Knight, in an interview with AFN)

What prompted Mr. Young to act like a spoiled dictator was Mr. Rogan's inclusion of COVID "misinformation."

Mr. Rogan says healthy young people might want to avoid getting the shots and that adverse effects have been underreported. He also had Dr. Robert Malone in December on the podcast, which typically draws 10 million views. Dr. Malone, who holds several patents for the mRNA technology that produced the COVID-19 vaccines, is a leading critic of universal vaccination and flatly opposes giving children the shots.

"They can have Rogan or Young. Not both," Young, 76, wrote in a letter to his manager and record label. So, Warner Music formally requested to Spotify that Mr. Young's music be removed.

Meanwhile, Mr. Rogan's $100 million contract with Spotify is still in effect and the controversy has only increased his audience. You'd think hip people like Neil Young would know that censoring a well-known figure is like trying to hold a slippery balloon under water. You're going to get soaked.

The quality of Neil Young's music is not at issue here. I have many of his albums and consider him a major talent. His "Cinnamon Girl" song is 100-proof guitar rock.

I had hoped that "Southern Man" was just a spasm of early political correctness, along with the later "Alabama" and his unfairly blaming Richard Nixon for the student deaths at Kent State in 1970 in the song "Ohio."

Unlike other liberals, Mr. Young later apologized, sort of, for trashing the South. In his 2012 biography "Waging Heavy Peace," he wrote, "I don't like my words when I listen to it. They are accusatory and condescending, not fully thought out, and too easy to misconstrue."

Wow. Good for him. So, I was disappointed to see him join the cancel culture's assault on the free flow of information. It's one thing to use your art to protest something. It's another to try to silence views with which you disagree.

The music industry, Hollywood, academia and even much of corporate America, is in the grip of leftwing ideologues. Even professional sports teams thumb their noses at many fans by brooking no dissent at the league's embrace of Black Lives Matter. One of the group's founders has openly boasted that "we are trained Marxists."

For a year or two after Colin Kaepernick (estimated net worth $20 million) and others took a knee during the National Anthem while officials did nothing, the National Football League lost some of its TV audience. But with a compelling product and the pandemic bumming everyone out, the fans came back. Meanwhile, the NFL began increasingly funding leftwing causes and displaying endzone slogans.

You have to wonder how many players with Black Lives Matter on their helmets have a clue about what they are promoting. Do they know that BLM has stated that it wants to destroy the nuclear family and end capitalism – which includes professional sports? And that something as uncontroversial as "Stop Hate" is part of the Left's mantra that America is an incurably racist and evil country?

The cowed TV networks sure aren't going to spill the truth. Coming up, it will be interesting to see American sportscasters kowtow to Communist China during the Winter Olympics in Beijing, which begin Friday. Talk about appeasing bullies.

Beijing's ideological enforcers, who don't want the Uyghurs or the Hong Kong crackdown mentioned, will make Neil Young's clumsy attempt at censorship look like child's play.


A version of this column ran originally in The Washington Times.

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