MGU 319 | Free Speech


Both censorship and misinformation can feel like threats to public health and democracy. Last month, members of the broader scientific community issued an open letter to Spotify. The community asked them to take down Joe Rogan Experience episodes that spread what they believe to be misinformation about COVID-19. Whitney Lauritsen discusses the controversies around Joe Rogan’s podcast and the ripple effects it created on different platforms and for other podcasters like Brene Brown. She also shares how controversies like this impact her directly and how she navigates these types of complexities.

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Negotiating The Complexities Of Free Speech

Critical Thinking Vs. Independent Thinking About Misinformation

The topic is something that I’ve been reflecting on and researching and I still don’t have a ton of confidence to talk about this, but I didn’t want to delay it any longer because it’s something relatively timely and also something that I don’t think I’ll ever fully have a grasp on. Part of the point of talking about this is some things are complicated. Our opinions or perspectives on them may evolve based on new information. This specific subject matter is changing constantly.

It’s based on and not exclusively about the controversies around Joe Rogan’s podcast and the ripple effects that had on platforms like Spotify and the entire podcast community, as well as musicians and public figures. Our country in the US as a whole, and perhaps the whole world, there is a lot going on with this, which is part of what makes it interesting to me.

I mentioned complex. There don’t seem to be any super clear answers. By the time this episode comes out, things could have shifted. I have a ton of notes. I’m going to pull them up. I have some articles that I’ve read. I will see where this goes, as usual. First of all, let me provide a little context for those of you who haven’t paid a lot of attention to this. I have a note here about January 2022, but I may have written that note in January 2022 since it’s the border between the two months.

Joe Rogan Controversy

Somewhere in the past, doctors, nurses, and scientific community members issued an open letter to Spotify asking the company to take down the Joe Rogan Experience episode that they said spread misinformation about COVID-19. This has been going on for a while, but it got into the news at the end of January 2022.

For those of you who aren’t super familiar with him, Joe Rogan is the most popular podcaster in the US and maybe even the world. He interviews major guests. He is usually off the cuff and, at times, controversial. I have at times appreciated his, even though a lot of what I’m saying and been reflecting on has made me think a little bit differently about it.

I was drawn into his episode with Elon Musk that he did in 2018. It was super fascinating. If you didn’t know this, his style inspired the style of this show, especially when Jason was part of the show. We loved how long his episodes were in a world where podcasters often feel like they have to keep their episode short.

The Joe Rogan Experience felt like a good model for this show because it is rambling and a bit off the cuff. I’m not fully afraid to be controversial. It’s interesting because I am partially afraid to be controversial, mostly because I’m a people pleaser and afraid of offending people. Deep down inside, I think it’s important for us to talk about things from the heart and present moment, even if that makes people upset.

One of the big points of what’s going on with Joe Rogan and the controversy surrounding it is the fact that people vary different opinions on him, what he says, how Spotify has reacted, and other people have reacted. That’s an important lesson. That’s what I’m going to get into. I have listened to a few episodes of his show. I’ve noticed things I enjoy about him. I enjoy that he brings on a variety of different guests from different backgrounds. Although, statistically, almost 90% of his guests are male.

It's okay to disagree with people and have tough conversations. It’s very important because it practices your listening skills and helps you notice your triggers. Click To Tweet

I don’t know about race or other elements of diversity, but I would be willing to bet a lot of people are White and probably align with his viewpoints. He says that he likes to bring on people he disagrees with. I don’t know if that’s fully the case. There is still a good amount of bias on there, but I could be wrong because I don’t know every single guest. He’s had 1,000 guests on his show.

He celebrates himself as an independent thinker. Other people like that about him. This is part of why he draws in such a large audience. In fact, on Twitter, I read one person who said, “What I like about Joe Rogan is that he gives me things to think about, but he doesn’t tell me what to think.” An important point in all of this is, from what I’ve read and I understand about Joe Rogan, he’s not someone who’s trying to brainwash you or convince you of things.

However, I feel like naturally, as speakers and presenters, we do have goals of convincing people of our positions on things. That’s a natural form of human communication. Most of us have to work at not being super biased and not trying to persuade people all the time. In fact, that reminds me of the episode I did about having conversations with people who disagree with you, which I think is a good compliment to this episode. That episode helped me understand that it’s okay to disagree with people, of course, but it’s okay to have tough conversations. In fact, it’s very important to have them and practice your listening skills and noticing your triggers.

There are so many of those same lessons that have come up as I’ve read about people’s responses to Joe Rogan and how it’s caused people to take sides. I’m trying not to take sides. That’s important for me to share, but I do have my own opinions. I’m trying to check my biases and reflect on my opinions to ensure that they’re not too blinded.

A lot of us go into situations like this, which I’ll elaborate more on in case you don’t know. I don’t want to assume that you know what’s going on here with Joe Rogan. It’s very easy to jump to conclusions. What inspired me to do this episode is that I noticed I was jumping to conclusions. I was trying to talk to people about it and was not able to back up my feelings.

I want to go research, listen and dig in. I was trying to share my thoughts on the situation with some friends and they were asking me follow-up questions. I realized I didn’t know how to answer them. I went home and looked up some articles to better understand them. One of them specifically was around free speech. I don’t have a word or a way of reflecting on the issues of free speech here with a lot of confidence, but I do have some articles I’m going to reference that may help me clarify that.

With the different opinions on this show, there have been people on Joe Rogan’s show that have said some controversial things, a lot of very far-right people on the show have radicalized everyday people. Some people are concerned that it’s harmful to our society at large because of how someone could innocently be listening to someone like Joe Rogan here, a guest on the show and take it as fact or take it as the right belief system misunderstand something.

Misinformation And The Call-Out Culture

In fact, one of the articles I was reading about this said that podcasts like his or content, in general, can take someone from being an everyday person to someone who’s being fed news and misinformation. At the core of what’s been going on here is misinformation. I’m also going to get into what exactly that even mean because I realized through this whole situation that I’m not even sure which episodes and content Joe Rogan’s been putting out that counts as misinformation. Term and fake news, as we’ve heard, those terms are used a lot, but they mean something different to each person. They don’t mean the same thing to everyone, what we believe to be fake versus real and truth versus lies.

There are a lot of gray areas. That’s important to keep in mind with all of this, but it’s also a slippery slope, as I’m going to get into, especially because most of this controversy is sent around COVID-19. The fact that it was rooted in the scientific community, asking Spotify to do something about the spread of misinformation. From what I understand, it wasn’t just a bunch of random people saying, “We don’t like this.” These were doctors, nurses, and scientists being very concerned with what was being said and its impact on people. We’re going to dig into that a little bit more.

MGU 319 | Free Speech

Free Speech: It’s important to talk about things from the heart and the present moment, even if that makes people upset.


An Opportunity To Reflect

A lot of people perceive this as being a witch hunt as cancel culture. That’s something that’s come up a lot on February 5th, 2022, as I’ve looked into it. Joe Rogan was called out again for saying a lot of racist things. A lot of people are thinking they won’t give this guy a break versus it was about COVID-19, and now this is about racism.

To people that don’t like Joe Rogan, are they looking for any opportunity to cancel this man? It’s interesting. I don’t know if he can be canceled, to be honest, because he has so much power, but we’ll see. Maybe it’ll be too much for him or make him feel even stronger and more powerful. That’s what’s interesting about the evolution of all of this.

What’s also fascinating is that you might be following this show on Spotify. A lot of people are reconsidering their relationship with that platform. People have canceled their Spotify Premium accounts and switched over to platforms like Apple Music. People have been trying to boycott it and artists have left.

You may have heard that Neil Young, who was prominent in his viewpoints, Joni Mitchell, and a bunch of other people since then. Also, Brené Brown, who I want to dig into some of the things that she said in response to this. I heard about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle issuing a statement. I haven’t even looked into that fully and I might not get to that now. A lot of people are holding Spotify accountable for this because Spotify owns Joe Rogan’s show. They bought the exclusive rights to a show. Technically, his show is Spotify’s.

Spotify is being held responsible for allowing him to share some of these things. Especially due to some of the racial slurs that people found Joe Rogan said, Spotify has been putting the spotlight again and quietly deleted as many as 70 of his episodes, without an explanation as to why. They have not deleted controversial episodes related to COVID-19 misinformation. That is according to Buzzfeed.

It’s important to take everything I shared now with a grain of salt because A) It is changing, B) It’s filtered through all these editors, writers and opinions online. I want to be very mindful about not spreading misinformation about Joe Rogan either because I don’t want to be part of that. Also, in that same Buzzfeed article, it was reported that Spotify had removed around 40 episodes of Joe Rogan’s podcast, including those that featured controversial guests, conspiracy theorists, and scientific misinformation. It’s important to know that Spotify has done some things here. They have been shifting based on people’s reactions. This is part of where this concern around free speech comes up.

It’s also important to know that this isn’t just about COVID-19. I’ve read articles that have pointed out how Joe Rogan has pushed anti-trans rhetoric. Apparently, he’s compared being trans to joining a cult or cutting yourself through self-harm. He’s misgendered and denigrated trans youth. I have a big issue with that personally. He pointed out a lot of probably not true information.

One example was he was accusing left-wing people of starting wildfires in Oregon. It’s something I read again, and I’ve not listened to that episode. People have viewed Spotify as a place where he could spread his bigotry and vileness without real consequences. That’s at the core here. The big question becomes about censorship.

Will he leave and do it elsewhere if he has enabled us to freely say those things on Spotify? Is he even contractually allowed to do that? I’m not sure. I imagine he’s thinking all of these things through. It reminds me of going back to the harm that I mentioned and how these viewpoints and misinformation can influence us.

Being called out is an opportunity to reflect on who you are. Click To Tweet

I had a very direct experience with it that came full circle through this whole situation. A few years ago, Joe Rogan was talking about this woman named Tess Holliday and I want to bring this up so I can make sure that I’m remembering this correctly. Tess Holliday is a body-positive model. He was talking about her cover on Cosmopolitan in October 2018. I remember seeing this and thinking, “Huh?” I didn’t know who Tess Holliday was at the time. I listened to Joe Rogan’s statement and perspective on that. He said that having a woman her size on Cosmo was not a good thing for our society because it celebrated someone her size. This is hard for me to say to be honest, but I want to be transparent.

At that time, I found myself considering what he was saying. I thought, “Maybe he’s right. It’s not good for magazines to show women that size.” I honestly cannot even finish that sentence. Not only because I feel awful for even thinking that, but I don’t believe it anymore. My thought process was along the lines of thinking that Tess Holliday was unhealthy. Now I realized how far I’ve come in several years. Not even being able to finish that sentence shows I can’t even relate to how I used to feel, but it showed how far I needed to go and where my limitations were around making assumptions about someone’s health based on their body size.

I’m grateful for this moment because it does show our growth and our perspectives can be shifted. It does show our biases, prejudices, judgments, and how for so long, because of my disordered eating past and the diet culture that many of us are in, I fed into that belief system that fat was bad and being large meant that you were unhealthy.

This moment was very poignant for me because I listened to that episode of Joe Rogan. I went to dinner with a few people and brought it up. I can’t remember why it came up, but I said, “What do you think about Tess Holliday? Do you think it’s a bad influence to have someone of her size celebrated in a magazine?”

One of the people I was at dinner with got upset with me and defensive. I remember how much that shifted me. It got me to step back and examine my thoughts. That was important because I’m glad that I was called out for it and someone got angry at me for saying those things because maybe that was the wake-up call I needed. These are the benefits of call-out culture versus cancel culture.

On February 5th, 2022, Joe Rogan was called out for racial slurs. He gave an apology on his Instagram. I listened to about half of it. I thought he did a good job owning up to it. He explained that those were clips from the past, and he does not use those words anymore. There are countless examples of people saying and doing things in the past that they no longer say, do and believe. I want to be transparent that I’ve been in that exact same situation.

I’m sure there have been plenty of times, mostly offline, that I have said something off-color. I know for a fact, with that example. I’m grateful for people who have shared with me privately, ideally because these private situations didn’t agree with me because it got me to think about what I was saying, reflect on it, and move through it.

Over the past few years, I’ve also learned all things about body positivity, racism, health, and on and on. That side of this is important to bring up. I don’t think I believe Joe Rogan should be canceled, but I also have a very limited perspective on him. I’m coming at it from a few different angles. One is he said some things about a woman’s body that I felt persuaded by, which caused me to say some things that I no longer align with. At the time, clearly, part of me did align with his statements, but I also thought, “This is Joe Rogan saying this. He’s an influential person. He must have a good point here.”

He had someone else on the show. I don’t know if it was a guest or someone that’s part of a show on a regular basis. They were all agreeing on it. I remember the way they phrased it. I thought like, “They do have a good point about her.” His show influenced me in a way that I do not feel proud of. The reason that I remembered that is because Tess Holliday came up on my TikTok. She is speaking out against Joe Rogan, probably because of how she’s targeted him, at least in that one episode, maybe multiple times.

I remember it didn’t even occur to me that I was looking at Tess Holliday on TikTok. I was listening to her words and her position on his show. I looked and saw her username. The memory of how I felt and what I said in 2018 came flooding back. Everything is being presented to me because I think Tess Holliday is incredible right now. I am so for her. I want to see women of all different body sizes. In fact, I generally prefer to see women who don’t have stick figure bodies in the classic media promotional way, the Instagram influencer, cliche body.

MGU 319 | Free Speech

Free Speech: Speakers and presenters naturally have a goal of convincing people to their positions on things. It’s just a natural form of human communication.


I prefer to see women who look different than that because I’ve seen enough of the Instagram bodies, the model figures. I want to see all different types of women represented, women that look like me in my body size and women that have completely different bodies. I’ll leave it at that for now, but it showed me how someone can sway you and how you can change. You can grow out of things too. I also recognize that Joe Rogan is another human being who’s shifting and changing over time. I recognize there are a lot of public figures that have said things that they no longer align with because they’ve changed. Being called out is an opportunity to reflect on who we are.

The problem that I see right now is that as media is structured at the moment, we don’t usually give people another chance. We don’t recognize that they are changing every single minute. Anything can happen in our lives that can cause us to shift. What Joe Rogan said yesterday could be vastly different from what he says today.

The same thing is true with everybody who has spoken out against him. That, to me, makes this whole space challenging. First of all, you could take anything I said today and hold it against me next week. The truth is, I might not agree with what I’m saying right now next week. I might have a complete frame framework shift tomorrow.

If you step back and look at your life, can you see how much you’ve shifted and changed? Everybody changes the different rates too. I believe deep down that very few people in this world are not changing constantly, even if we can’t tell from the outside and if they don’t even want to admit it. Joe Rogan is an example. Every time he records his podcast, hearing from someone new when he has them on their show, unless I guess they’re a repeat guest, but every guest on his show has the potential of shifting his perspective.

He’s in a place of constant education. He might be looking at it through a viewpoint that causes him to not shift in radical ways. Maybe he’s not super open-minded, but he’s still being presented with a lot of different information just like you are when you read this or you listen to any other podcasts and when you go on social media.

When we seem like we’re fighting to hold onto our beliefs, and we don’t want to change, maybe deep down, we are changing without even recognizing with that being against our will. That’s what makes a lot of this so tough. It was hard for me to do this episode because I wanted to get the information right, be concrete, and have a definitive answer. At this moment, I’m recognizing that that’s impossible. Given that by the time this episode comes out, things could have radically changed too.

Brené Brown And Freedom Of Speech

That’s an important thing to keep in mind whenever we’re reflecting on how something makes us feel. It’s relative. There’s so much to say here. I do want to touch upon Brené Brown and some articles I found related to freedom of speech, misinformation and more timely things. I was especially fascinated by Brené Brown’s response to all of this. I have not looked up what she’s posted since. By the time this episode comes out, she could have said something completely different. Keep in mind this is her statement on February 1st, 2022.

She has herself been accused of trying to censor Joe Rogan. People have said things to her like, “I’m canceling you for canceling people.” It’s fascinating when you think about a lot of people who have said similar things to Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, and whoever else has come out against Spotify or shifted their opinions on Spotify and things like, “I hate censors. You shut up.”

People are trying to censor somebody for censoring someone else. I’m fascinated by that. People have been telling Brené Brown that they’re going to burn her books because they don’t agree with her. She said it would be ironic and funny if they didn’t demonstrate a complete lack of critical thinking. I thought that was such an important thing or a poignant thing to say because critical thinking is key during these controversial moments.

She also said, “For everyone who said this pause was out of line with my work, you clearly skipped all the places where I talked about pausing, getting curious and asking questions.” I love that. This is why Brené Brown’s statement was something I wanted to pay a lot of attention to because I think it is about pausing, being curious about things and asking questions.

Try to honor and respect somebody, even if they don't believe in the same things as you. Click To Tweet

I also brought up in that episode about having tough conversations with people who have different opinions than you. The main body of advice around those tough conversations is to listen, pause, be curious, and ask questions, not just share your thoughts, not debate, not wait for your chance to speak, but to be curious about it. It puts us in this state of learning, even if that means we learn information that goes against what we thought before the conversation started.

Brené Brown has come up so much because she too has podcasts on Spotify that are exclusive, from my understanding. It’s very similar to Joe Rogan’s show, where they can only broadcast those shows on Spotify, which puts them in a place of reflecting on their relationships and who else is on the platform.

Brené says she’d like Spotify to have a transparent misinformation policy made available to the public that balances addressing the complex misinformation issues we face now while respecting free speech. To be meaningful, this policy must be applied across the platform without exception. That’s key, too, because part of the issue that people are having is Joe Rogan has such a large audience and was paid a huge amount of money to be exclusive to Spotify. Spotify is making a lot of money because of his large audience.

Brené and other people are concerned that he is an exception to the rule. She wants to make sure that everyone is held to the same level as accountability. Whether that’s been happening or not, I’m not sure, but the fact that she felt important to bring that up made me wonder, “Was Joe Rogan being treated differently?” That’s part of the issue too.

She then said, “Rigorous debate, the benefits to the public does not include dissemination of misinformation, both censorship, misinformation or threats to public health and democracy. Our collective wellbeing is best served when we approach debates and discourse with curiosity, critical thinking, and a healthy skepticism of false dichotomies.”

She ended her statement by saying, “No matter what I say or what I do, some of you will be frustrated, disappointed, or pissed off. That’s okay. I will never stop sharing my opinions and beliefs to make anyone feel better, more comfortable or to gain approval.” That is one of the most helpful things I’ve ever read about podcasting, to be honest. I respect Brené Brown. I’ve brought her up in countless episodes of the show. I’ve read her book and heard her speak. I liked the way that she thinks and approaches the world. I thought the statement was well done, but it pissed a lot of people off.

I especially saw this on LinkedIn. I don’t know why it popped up amongst all of the places she posted. A lot of people were upset with Brené Brown’s standpoint, just like she said, they would frustrate and disappoint them. I love how she said it’s okay because it’s not about trying to please them and make them more comfortable.

She needs to share these things to be in integrity. That’s important. It also reminded me of something I read in this training that I’m in right now for Web3, which is, “Those who have positively changed the world did so because they learned how to negotiate complexity rather than impose their own will on things. They answered their own questions as honestly and directly as they could.” That’s how I felt about Brené’s statement, but it doesn’t mean that it’s easy.

Articles On The Joe Rogan Controversy

I want to bring up some articles. I have so many. It’s a bit overwhelming to me. One of them is from this website called Intelligencer. It’s from New York Magazine. It’s titled The Spotify Backlash Never Had a Chance. It gets into the details of Spotify as background, how much they’re valued, how many people listened to the platform and where that’s all in relation to The Joe Rogan Experience.

“It’s fundamentally different than seeing your friends and family members posting fake COVID-19 information on their Facebook feeds. Even though Rogan has positioned himself as an everyman, the person you’d expect to have some off-the-wall social media posts, he’s an institution unto himself with an audience of 11 million monthly users. Rogan’s podcast is so popular because he is for whatever it’s worth hearing at other people’s points of view, no matter how crackpot or mainstream they are.” He’s brought on all sorts of people at this article links.

MGU 319 | Free Speech

Free Speech: Many people are public figures and have said things they no longer align with because they’ve changed.


“Rogan boiled his formula down to something like having interesting conversations, but the reality is he made his name by leaning heavily into criticizing the left over political correctness in comedy trans people in vaccine mandate. He’s repeated false stories that leftists were responsible for the wildfires in Oregon, which is a statement he later apologized for.”

“Spotify has a gamble here that users aren’t going to care. As for the people who do care and quit, it probably won’t miss them all that much. Why would it? This gets into all of the music industry and the stats there. Ultimately, if anyone needs the call to delete Spotify, what are their options? There is Apple, the largest company in the world by value, not exactly an inspiring choice for anyone to show their activists bonafides, given his questionable history on human rights in China.” They list out a few other examples here and say, “It doesn’t make for a clear, satisfying choice for anyone who may be angry over Rogan.”

That article is good if you’re interested in the business ramifications of this and whether or not it’s going to bring down Joe Rogan or Spotify. To me, it seems like it won’t. There’s an article from the New York Times that I read. That article is titled What The Joe Rogan Backlash Reveals About How We Handle Misinformation.

I love this one from, which is entitled, The Joe Rogan Controversy is About The Freedom of Association. This one, I felt, was helpful for me to understand exactly what was going on in terms of the freedom of speech side of things. It references author and podcaster Roxane Gay, who is leaving Spotify rather than sharing the platform with Joe Rogan.

She said it was a difficult decision. There are a lot of listeners on the platform and I might never recoup that audience elsewhere. She apparently has been through this before and was able to look back not just with Spotify but with a publisher. She was able to have some perspective on all of this. She said that she has the right to decide who she wants to do business with. It’s not about censorship. In other words, it’s about freedom of association, which is a term I wasn’t familiar with until I read this article.

“It gets into, in the end, how Americans love to fight about freedom of speech, but we often don’t talk about freedom of association, which is also the first amendment right. Like free speech, freedom of association has been enshrined in liberal democratic and across the world. It’s been declared as one of the essential human liberties, yet associated freedom is often entirely absent from popular discourse, perhaps because liberals have come to take it entirely for granted.”

“Roxane Gay, in this case, is critical of Rogan and Spotify for employing him, but she doesn’t have the power, legal, cultural, or otherwise, to cancel him. Instead, she packed her bags and left Spotify because that’s her right.” This is exactly what we’re seeing with people like Brené Brown, which helped me better understand this.

I’m going to link to another article I found that was helpful from Please keep in mind with websites that you’ve never heard of before like that one. I don’t know much about them. Every article is written by someone with a different slant, editor and all different belief systems that you need to sort through, but this one was helpful in how it was broken down in terms of difference of opinions versus misinformation.

It’s a quote in Rogan and saying that he’s not trying to promote misinformation. He’s doing his best to try to balance out controversial viewpoints with other people’s perspectives. It takes so much work to gather all of this information. I do have another article from that says why Spotify can’t afford to lose Joe Rogan and the thinking behind it is not an easy decision. I find it interesting because with all these people leaving the platform, you might think that Spotify is going to change. This is a very complicated subject matter because Spotify is making a lot of money off of him and they do have agreements in place on both sides.

According to The Verge, the takeaway is that the company specifically licensed Joe Rogan’s show with the goal of both converting listeners to the platform and making money through ad sales. Thus, it became the linchpin for Spotify’s entire podcasting apparatus. If marketers buy an ad and Joe Rogan’s show, they have to buy ads on the rest of Spotify’s catalog. Meaning Rogan’s success brings more advertisers to the rest of Spotify’s investments.

The problem is people don't usually give each other another chance. They don't recognize that they are changing every single minute. Click To Tweet

Without Joe Rogan on the platform, a lot of other podcasts are going to suffer, which is where my heart goes out to this whole situation and shows the complexity of it because, as another podcaster, it’s tough. Do I want money based around someone that I disagree with or don’t support? The easy answer is to say, “No.” If we look at any company we support, it is challenging.

I’m a huge fan of Apple and Tesla. Those companies have issues. I feel so conflicted about Amazon all the time, but do we still use Amazon? Yes. Being a vegan and deciding where to eat food, there are ethical issues everywhere. Does that mean that we should stop trying to be ethical? No, but we have to realize that progress is the key here, like anything else in life. It’s not about getting it perfect or right because I don’t know if you can. Everything is constantly changing. Should we stand up and speak out for things that we believe in? Yes.

Where my feelings about Joe Rogan become clear is that I’m not supportive of somebody who’s going to be racist. He says he’s not racist. Maybe he’s not right now. I’d have to go through every single episode to make a good opinion on it. When you see the compilations of all the racial slurs that he said over time, it gives me pause, the Tess Holliday situation, the trans situation, the crazy statements about wildfires and who started that. He said a lot of things that I do not agree with

There’s also something about Joe Rogan where I see his humanity. When I watched his apology on February 5th, 2022 but also the statement he came out with about the whole Spotify situation, I saw a human being and a man who recognized the complexity. If I’m going to see Brené Brown’s point in that statement that I love so much, which is, “No matter what I say or what I do, some of you will be frustrated, disappointed, or pissed off. I will never stop sharing my opinions or beliefs to make anyone feel better and more comfortable or to gain your approval.”

If I can hear that from Brené Brown, I should also hear that from Joe Rogan. This is where this freedom of speech thing comes in. It’s tough. Should they be able to say whatever they want? That’s the big question here. I thought I would have a better answer to my viewpoint on that, but I don’t at this moment.

It leads me to things I felt about speaking out. I brought this up in that episode about having a difference of opinion and observing the fact that you’re trying to honor and respect somebody, even if they don’t believe the same things as you. Many of us have been encouraged to call people out that we don’t agree with and to cancel people.

What if, at the core of they’re a person that you love? What if they offer a lot of big benefits that you enjoy? I’m doing this on my Apple computer using my iPhone. I often wear my Apple headphones. I love all of those things. I’m so grateful. I used to work for Apple. I had incredible experiences with them as a company, but I see issues with them, human rights-related and environmental-related. You will find the same to be true about a lot of similar companies. Does that mean that it’s right? No.

I often get stuck here. I saw a bunch of vegan companies getting called out. Oatly, for example. I am an investor in Oatly. I bought Oatly stock the day that it went on the stock market. I was so excited to support a non-dairy company like them that I see issues with. I don’t love all their ingredients and then months down the line, I hear all of these stories about their ethics. They’ve had to think about whether I want to continue to be an investor. It’s complicated.

Learn From The Situation

All of this is not easy. I don’t expect to snap my finger and have a perfect answer, but I also believe that we should go with our guts. I’m not at a point right now where I believe in canceling Joe Rogan. I believe in learning from the situation. Maybe what is happening with him has given people like me the opportunity to ask a lot of questions to get very curious about him. Given his influence, he’ll be pushed in a direction that benefits us more.

What if this changes him in a way that shifts us in a more positive direction? What if him staying on Spotify and not being overly censored helps him influence people in a way that he wasn’t able to before he got called out for all this, or maybe he’ll stay the same? Maybe he will leave Spotify, go somewhere else and bring all of that audience.

MGU 319 | Free Speech

Free Speech: Even when you seem like you’re fighting to hold onto your beliefs, deep down, you are changing without even recognizing it.


Now we got to think about the consequences of that to the point of one of those articles. If he leaves Spotify, what happens to all that ad revenue? How does that affect other podcasters that you love? I don’t get any direct financial compensation from Spotify that I’m aware of. I don’t run ads on there, but a lot of other great shows do. What if that affected their bottom line and they gave up their podcast? There are so many ripple effects to someone like Joe Rogan.

This will probably be my last statement. It’s like that gut feeling when I talked about the ick factor in an episode. I get a horrible gut feeling based on some of the comments people have left on like Brené Brown’s LinkedIn. I even saw Marianne Williamson’s post about the Joe Rogan situation. I’m meaning to look up her tweet because I was surprised at what she said. It had me thinking about my own perspectives. I’m glad that she said something that gave me pause.

In general, I think Marianne Williamson is amazing. Similar to Brené Brown, I relate to a lot of things that she said or says. I didn’t get a good feeling about what she said about this. I want to go reread it. It was something about censorship and freedom of speech. It was on January 30th, 2022 and she said, “I’m triple vaxxed, but unless they’re standing for hate or calling for violence, banning someone’s podcast is too much like burning a book to me. Joe Rogan should talk on his podcasts about whatever he damn well pleases.” It was that last line that I thought, “Is that true?” That’s where I started digging into this misinformation thing in the dangerous of it. I don’t know.

Someone else commented on her tweet, “Yes, he has the right to talk. That’s important. We also have the right not to listen and not to associate. That’s also important.” Marianne Williamson said, “I agree.” Maybe the answer is that we all need to practice critical thinking, like Brené Brown said, and let other people make their own decisions.

Maybe to other people’s points, they come to listen to Joe Rogan’s thoughts and still feel like they’re forming their own separate opinion regardless of what he says. It’s a slippery slope because of my situation. When I heard that Tess Holliday episode, I couldn’t stop thinking about that. I remember walking away from listening to some of Joe Rogan’s shows years ago and thinking he’s great. I wonder, “Am I being brainwashed? Do I agree with him?”

I’m grateful for all of this because it’s given me that opportunity to pause like Brené Brown said and ask a lot of questions. I would love for you to share with me. What are your thoughts? Do you have any other resources I can read? I’m going to continue reading up on this. I will share some more points in another episode if it feels valid and maybe with some other guests. It came up in an episode with Marissa, which will come out.

Stay tuned. She shared a little bit of her thoughts. Please reach out to me and let me know how you feel. What questions has this brought up for you? Where do you stand on all of this? Keep in mind that my opinion could be vastly different by the time you read this. You can email me if you ever want to know my super current opinion, thoughts, or perspectives on something. You can message me on social media. Sometimes it takes me time to respond, but I’d be happy to address it.

I also have a daily live show for those that are curious about more content beyond this show. It’s called Web3 with Whitney. It’s nothing to do with what I talk about here, although there are always overlap. I’ve been exploring Web3 from cryptocurrency, NFTs, metaverse and all different facets of what’s happening online right now. A lot of what’s going on with all these creators and musicians shows how Web3 could benefit us. Maybe allow us to have more control and not be so dependent on ads, platforms, and shift into a place of more community.

If you want to learn more about Web3 right alongside me and also hear my thoughts from day to day, you can go to I’ll be back again with a guest’s new episode and another solo one. Until then, I wish you all the very best with how you navigate the world of different opinions and perspectives online because it’s tough. If you need more support, I cannot recommend enough that episode I did on having those tough conversations. One of my favorites because I think it’s so important for us to learn how to navigate this world where there is a lot of controversy and side-taking in it. It can be draining and tough on us, but take it in stride day by day, breathe through it and know that we’re all changing every moment. Bye for now.


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