Whoopi Goldberg Vs. Joe Rogan: a Case Study in “Cancel Culture” Double Standards

Boy, that Whoopi Goldberg really put her foot in her mouth, didn’t she? Her comment abut the holocaust was condemned by those on the left and right alike. And she was even suspended from her position as a host of ABC’s The View. Never mind that she had promptly apologized for any hurtful inference from her remarks. The Whoopi haters were out for blood, by god, and they got a little of it. And they still want more.

So one might say that she became another victim of “cancel culture”. But wait. Isn’t “cancel culture” supposed to be something that victimizes only “conservatives” — and only because they are conservative? That’s the narrative you’re being constantly fed. But if you look around, you see that it doesn’t play out that way at all in the real world.

First of all, let’s examine Whoopi’s horrific verbiage. Here’s what got her into hot water:

 Let’s be truthful about it because the Holocaust isn’t about race…The minute you turn it into race, it goes down this alley. Let’s talk about it for what it is. It’s how people treat each other. That’s the problem.

Pretty inexcusable, eh? Well… um… no, since you ask. There have been far, far worse things said about the holocaust that didn’t get anyone “cancelled” from anything. In fact, although her word choice wasn’t ideal, Whoopi was actually trying to make a valid point. While the Nazis were certainly racist enough, the fervor that drove the holocaust was not based on hatred of a particular race, but of a particular religion. True, they came to regard Jews as a separate (and inferior) race of beings. But as Whoopi explained, she was using the word “race” in the sense of skin color; and persons of any ethnicity can be Jewish. But her attempts at clarification did nothing to appease the “cancelers”.

Remember, this concerted outcry from the right about “cancel culture” comes at a time when right-wingers are furiously (literally) attempting to outlaw Critical Race Theory (which they know absolutely zilch about), cancel elections, enact legislation to cancel the votes of millions of Americans, ban books and even actually burn them.

In contrast to Goldberg, her “conservative” co-host Meghan McCain made quite a number of bigoted remarks, including some that were — or could be interpreted as — racist. And she continued to be “uncancelled”. Doesn’t do much to help advance the mythology of “cancel culture” , does it?

But an even more telling contrast is between Whoopi Goldberg and Joe Rogan, who has provoked a great deal of outrage by spreading both bigotry and dangerous misinformation on his Spotify podcast. Some of that misinformation has pertained to COVID; as a result, one could make a sound argument that he has literally contributed to an untold number of deaths from the disease. And yet he has not been “cancelled”.

But that’s not what you hear from his defenders, and from right-wingers in general. They paint him as yet another noble victim of leftist cancel culture — even though Spotify has staunchly declined to suspend him. “Cancelling”, to the right-wing mentality, includes simply reaping the consequences of inappropriate behavior. In this case, Spotify lost millions of dollars in revenue because several artists pulled their music from the platform — most notably Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, who, as it happens, were both childhood victims of polio and thus are quite acquainted with the importance of vaccines.

But even so, these artists are not necessarily trying to “cancel” Rogan. They just didn’t want to continue being associated with a platform that promotes the likes of him. It’s a free-market business decision that they have every right to make, and one that you’d think would be soundly supported by “conservatives”. That is, if you were unaware of what American “conservatism” has morphed into.

The most common defense of Rogan and others like him is that they are merely providing an open forum — that, sure, he may interview a lot of ignorant and hateful sleazes, but he also interviews decent and reasonable folks. In other words, he presents “both sides“. But that’s a very inane defense indeed. The other side of fact is a lie. And if you put a lie on an equal footing with the truth, you enable the lie by giving it credibility. This is exactly the cardinal sin the media have been committing over and over for years, and the results have been devastating.

And the harm done by his irresponsible guests has far outstripped the good done by the responsible ones. He has hosted and praised the founder of the Proud Boys, a hate group that was involved in the Capitol riot. The “messages” of people like this, and of the anti-vaxxers he has pumped up, being louder and more emotionally charged, gain far more traction than does the message of sanity and rationality.

Furthermore, it’s just not accurate to characterize Rogan as merely an independent and innocent moderator. He has egged on the bigots and cranks, and even echoed their rhetoric. He has been repeatedly prone to misogynistic and racist outbursts that have included comparing African-Americans to apes and suggesting that they are of inferior intelligence.

Even as the flap over his COVID misinformation was beginning to blow over and hundreds of prominent wingers had swarmed to his defense, and Spotify made it very clear that they had his back, it came to light that dozens of his episodes were being quietly removed from circulation because they featured Rogan throwing around the N-word like confetti. To date, Spotify has yanked more than 100 — yes, one hundred— of these episodes in which he displayed his true colors.

In response to criticism, Rogan conjured a very common defense among individuals caught in the act of making idiotic statements: he claimed he’d been taken “out of context” — even as he also acknowledged that his words were embarrassingly inappropriate. He was, he insisted, using the word only referentially, in quotation marks — i.e., reporting what other people had said. And that excuse might fly if it had happened only a time or two. But one hundred episodes? He’s clearly obsessed with that particular slur.

And here’s the thing. With that many instances going back for many years, there’s no doubt that Spotify was aware that he was obsessed with it. And yet they chose not to take any action until they came under fire for allowing him to disseminate dangerous COVID lies. And even after pulling over a hundred of his episodes, they still have not suspended him. Yet ABC suspended Whoopi Goldberg for a single observation about other people’s attitudes on race, for which she promptly apologized.

You’ll be pleased to know that right-wingers themselves have taken note of this glaring discrepancy. They have indeed identified it as a humongous double standard. But in typical right-wing Bizarro Planet fashion, they have totally turned it on its ear. Goldberg, they say, should have received a far harsher sentence; and in an orgy of heightened projection and spin such as only right-wingers are capable of, they present this contrast between her and Joe Rogan as a case of (wait for it) bias against conservatives.

One comment

  1. I first heard about Whoopies big sin a few days ago, and I thought like you that what she said was not bad at all! Yes I suppose the Nazis also shipped black people and members of all races off to concentration camps, including the disabled and those who were ill. In fact, the only constant principle in Hitler’s massive hatred, was that nobody except the Aryan race was superior, and thus needed to be executed or tortured to death. And since Jews can be of any racial background many blacks and those of other races were rapidly placed on Hitler’s “to kill list”. He didn’t just seem to hate Jews out of convenience either–as ways to galvanize support from the German citizens by attacking Jews and those he claimed were inferior!! He really and genuinely hated Jews with a white hot hatred.

    So in the larger sense the Nazis were not just guilty of hating Jews, blacks, or disabled people who could not be of service to him. The third Reich’s most ugly aspect was that it vilified many people and seemed mostly to mistreat their fellow men on a much lager scale. So it was indeed about how each of us treats and perceives of others! Dictators and autocrats have existed all over the world and Repubicans are using alluring shiny objects to make Trump’s supporters believers in his large scale hatred of many others. He is a flimflam man who survived by never meeting a liar that he did not like!

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