Neil Young/Joe Rogan Speech Proves Fascists Are Killing ‘Free Speech’

(Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for SXSW)

I found it.

Dumbest argument on the internet.

And it comes from the “very deep thinkers” who claim that Neil Young gets his music from Spotify looks like Tennessee school ban Maus.

You see… it’s about the hypocrisy of liberals (read: people who believe the Holocaust happened and was wrong) complaining about a government agency banning a book while applauding that Neil Young took it down its a big company catalog because they profit from the anti-vaccine drivel. SAME THING! You don’t know what censorship is?!?!?

Except it’s not the same thing. Prohibition Maus (an affiliate link because you should go buy it and read it) is a government action raising all sorts of thorny constitutional issues because governments are obligated to represent everyone while Neil Young is a private actor saying to another private actor that he can no longer profit from his property.

The little “l” libertarianism should be on Young’s side. This is how the free market is supposed to work. It is not required to support Spotify and Spotify is not required to carry either Young or Rogan. Neil Young has initiated a very specific boycott and Spotify has made its choice… which is by definition freedom. And while the right-wing media complain that “no one listens to Neil Young anymore” the fact that Young now has cost Spotify about $2 billion is a victory for the concept of a free society.

There are problems with the literal monetization of the marketplace of ideas – some voices will give disproportionate power and others will be excluded – but that’s exactly how it’s supposed to work on the libertarian drawing board.

And yet it’s the big “L” Libertarians lead the charge to morph private citizen Neil Young as a vile censor because the civic virtue of “free speech” has been so derailed over the years that people don’t even understand the point of it anymore.

Freedom of speech doesn’t mean everyone has to be passive recipients of bullshit for every nonsensical opinion. It doesn’t mean you deserve an audience or even basic respect from others. This means that the government — which derives its power from representing everyone equally — cannot use that power to play favorites.

Somewhere along the line, people have traded this free speech talk for the idea that unpopular speech is a in itself good as opposed to a necessary evil. Even people who understand the basics of this controversy blame Young for contribute to a closed society as if it were better for the world to go offline and let the marketplace of ideas become an unchallenged cesspool. A profitable cesspool that every consumer should soak up in silence!

It sets everything back.

the The ACLU did not defend the Nazis because he thought “people needed to know more about Nazis”, they did because governments shouldn’t be the ones blocking Nazis. But this twisted new discourse on free speech aims to make anyone who criticizes the Nazis a villain as if spreading unpopular speech is a good in itself.

This is an extremely dangerous development.

Because that’s how fascism works. By twisting the rhetoric of free speech from “don’t forbid speech” to “everyone should affirmatively celebrate all speech,” it creates a civic virtue of silencing dissent. Neil Young is a bad person for not endorsing Joe Rogan and you are all bad people if you disagree with fringe opinions. Unfortunately, this ridiculous idea has been accepted at the highest level – it’s been almost five years since Yale Law School suggested that protesting bigots is unseemly behavior, as opposed to the foundation of free speech.

Bringing us back to the Maus controversial. Can we all stop with the “forbidden books are good“tropic? I get that it generates a sense of urgency to point out how far censorship has gone in the country and creates a kind of camaraderie to come together and despise the soft-jawed racists banning great works of literature, but the problem is the ban not the quality of forbidden books.

And right now, all that “go read what they say you shouldn’t” sounds a lot like “do your own research.” And from there it’s only a short walk to “why don’t you get some horse wormer?” Where “go ahead and lose to the 49ers” take. Slandered books are not necessarily good, although many are. The thing is, they shouldn’t be banned in any way.

Don’t help dishonest actors by putting the cart before the horse. Government action is suspect, citizens who privately rise up to counter the rhetoric are good.

Go cancel your Spotify account if you think private companies shouldn’t profit from the anti-vax talk. It’s your right.

No censorship.

Earlier: ‘Why can’t the ACLU return to protecting the Nazis?’ Twitter trolls
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Head shotJoe Patrice is an editor at Above the Law and co-host of Think like a lawyer. Feel free to email tips, questions or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.

Christy J. Olson