Joe Rogan Does Bad Job Of Apologizing For Saying The N-Word
This week, singer India Arie joined other musicians in demanding her work be taken off Spotify until the company does something about Joe Rogan. Along with her statement, she included a video of Joe Rogan saying the n-word repeatedly over more than a decade, along with a charming statement about how going to a black neighborhood was like going to the "Planet of the Apes."
This, apparently, was enough to get Joe Rogan to apologize. Sort of. Because while he may have started out by saying "This is the most regretful and shameful thing I've ever had to talk about publicly," he swiftly moved on to explaining that the clips were all "taken out of context."
Joe Rogan apologizes for “N-word” Video (Feb 5, 2022)www.youtube.com
That context was not "A crazed member of the Ku Klux Klan had a gun to his head," but rather that he was quoting song lyrics, Richard Pryor's act, talking about Redd Foxx, quoting a bit from fellow white person Lenny Bruce, talking about the use of the word in Quentin Tarantino movies, how a poor Netflix executive got fired for using the word to compare it to another word, etc. etc., all of which it is humanly possible to do without using the word.
Oh, and he was also just talking about how it's "the only word in the human language where only one race of people can use it," and how if white people use it it's racist but Black people get to use it to mean all kinds of different things, and he was using it in those ways, not the racist way, but now he understands he doesn't get to do that.
One thing he is correct on is where he says "Whenever you're in a situation where have to say 'I'm not racist,' you fucked up. And I clearly have fucked up." because that is in fact true. It might have been better to leave it there, but then he starts suggesting that it's part of him "doing this podcast for thousands of hours." That's not a thing either. Many of us talk a lot, write a lot, and have made it our whole entire lives without saying that word once. It's not like you get to a certain amount of time talking and you just have to use a racial slur. I am certain that there are many words in the English language that Joe Rogan has never used, that he perhaps should have gotten to before saying the n-word. Perhaps floccinaucinihilipilification might have been a good one?
But again, he said there's no excuse and that he hopes this can be a "teachable moment" for "anybody who doesn't realize how offensive that word can be coming out of a white person's mouth.
The thing about Joe Rogan is that his audience is mostly young white men who very much look up to him, for whatever goddamned reason. So when he acts like it's okay for white people to use racial slurs or whines about how there's only one word that only one race of people can use (which is not really true — it seems fair to say that the rule across the board is that no one gets to use slurs directed at a group they do not belong to), they may very likely jump on that train as well. And a quick five minute apology "teaching moment" isn't going to do a heck of a lot to counteract that. It's why it's also dangerous for him to be bringing on these anti-vaxxers and disseminators of misinformation and conspiracy theories.
He has an outsize influence and does not use it responsibly. People can say "Oh, if you don't listen to Joe Rogan it's not fair to criticize him," which is ridiculous, but we don't have to look at him to see what he hath wrought. If talking that long and that often makes it difficult for him to use reason to decide "should I use this word?" or "should I invite this person onto my show to tell people that the vaccine could kill them when it could not?" then maybe he needs to talk for less time. Like, a lot less time.
Anyway, that's it for today! Enjoy your open thread and we shall see you tomorrow! Remember — SER and I have our livestream at 12pm Pacific/3pm Eastern!
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse