More On: Joe Rogan
Individuals may be forgiven, but political cancellation campaigns cannot. Bear this in mind.
Once upon a time, there was a guy who enjoyed asking questions. Indeed, beyond his natural curiosity, it seemed as if he was compelled by a heavenly decree to enquire into the essence of things. He recognized his ignorance and set out to learn. He sometimes talked as if he had gotten guidance from another dimension, an oracle or a demon, and young men flocked to him. Though he had been a warrior in his youth and performed the obligations of a regime citizen, he had developed into a nuisance over time. His investigations seemed to undermine the gods and the authority exercised in their name; he corrupted the young, causing them to inquire as well.
The social hierarchy's leaders arrived and presented charges against him, putting him on trial in front of the people. They said he blasphemed and accused them and their peers of being liars, referring to them as stupid. They labeled him an evildoer and an inquisitive individual who looked at things in the skies and under the ground that should be left alone, and said he made the worst cause seem to be the better cause, all while teaching this to others. When confronted with such vehement accusations, he apologized.
He expressed regret and allowed Spotify to erase episodes of his program. Joe Rogan, the world's most famous podcaster, has now sought to pacify the forces gathered against him, after the first charge of "misinformation" was pushed to the side in favor of loud accusations of racism, that gravest of American vices. The intricacies of the case do not warrant or need repetition; they have already been debated incessantly. However, the dynamic they exemplify is an ancient one that the right should learn from now rather than continuing to leave unlearned the hard way.
No, Rogan is not Socrates, nor are the circumstances surrounding his trial similar to those described in that ancient Apology. For whereas Socrates faced charges in a court of law, Rogan faces charges in a court of popular opinion, a body created by the same media forces he has insulted. Socrates faced the charges leveled against him by his city, Athens, and the due process provided by her laws. He may apologize to anyone he may have offended, and he would be evaluated by a jury of his peers from a seat that was rightfully theirs. Which is to suggest that, while Socrates felt obligated to deliver an apologia, not to express regret, but to argue for the legitimacy of his cause as he strove to better his fellow citizens, Rogan should have offered no such apology.
No argument could be made by Rogan, since this was a punishment, not a discussion (debates are reserved for his show, which is the basis of its danger), and no forgiveness could be asked, because none was ever offered. As a result, he ought not to have apologized. The video montage used to persuade Spotify to remove older episodes and Rogan to apologize looks to have been professionally created and strategically placed. Indeed, one of the brothers behind the leftist political action organization and media company Meidas Touch admitted their affiliation with the PatriotTakes account that spread the damaging supercut. This was neither organic nor personal. I'm not sure what it would look like for black Americans to approach Rogan and beg for forgiveness, but this is not it. The whole thing is dripping with political rhetoric.
Socrates uttered a prophesy as he ended his personal apologies before the men of Athens. He said (via the use of the Jowett):
Me you have killed because you wanted to escape the accuser, and to not give an account of your lives. But that will not be as you suppose: far otherwise. For I say that there will be more accusers of you than there are now; accusers whom hitherto I have restrained: and as they are younger they will be more severe with you, and you will be more offended at them.
And, of course, this prediction came true, both in Athenian politics and in the history of Western thought. However, it is past time to make it a real prophesy for Rogan as well, despite the fact that he has never been a Socrates.
Despite its lofty ideals and strong desire to be left alone, the American right must grasp the difference between apology and apologia, between being apologetic and practicing apologetics. We must not apologize for stating the truth, and we must accept our errors as human beings speaking to human people. We must recognize that when an apology is asked not by individuals with whom we may have a genuine connection, with whom we may injure and be injure, and with whom we may forgive and be forgiven in turn, but by public relations pronouncements and media hits, we are not required to apologize. Indeed, we cannot under such situations. These kind of cancellation efforts are power plays that prey on moral intuitions. Conservatives, especially Christian conservatives, are particularly susceptible to them. To submit to these attempts is to legitimize what is unlawful in action—to admit a falsehood and, in doing doing, to join it.