Neil Young sang one of his greatest hits, “Rockin’ in the Free World,” during his celebrated “Freedom of Speech” tour in 2006.
Now, like too many of Young’s peers, the rocker isn’t so keen on the whole “free speech” thing.
The 76-year-old just demanded Spotify remove Joe Rogan’s popular podcast for sharing “misinformation” about COVID-19.
If the streamer doesn’t, Young wants the company to remove his music from the platform.
Of course, even if you take Young’s word for it on Rogan’s broadcasts there are other platforms spreading “misinformation” about the virus. Some, like CNN, call themselves a news outlet. Yet Young didn’t rage against CNN or other like-minded misinformation peddlers.
He targeted a comedian known for giving all sides of an argument a fair hearing. It’s just the latest example of a prominent artist taking a bold, and brave, stand against free speech.
Let’s look back at other stars who similarly want to diminish speech, restrict free expression or just shout down folks with whom they disagree.
Sacha Baron Cohen
The formerly edgy “Borat” has made it his mission to fight “misinformation” on social media, with Facebook as his number one target.
The far-Left comic cheered when Facebook and friends removed President Donald Trump, ignoring the fact that the very same platforms leave far worse players free to spread hate, misinformation and more. Twitter is often far worse in this regard.
“This is the most important moment in the history of social media. The world’s largest platforms have banned the world’s biggest purveyor of lies, conspiracies and hate. To every Facebook and Twitter employee, user and advocate who fought for this–the entire world thanks you!”
The “Schitt’s Creek” star and co-creator took sides after the woke mob came down on Dave Chappelle for jokes he told during his Netflix special, “The Closer,” late last year.
Levy, son of veteran comic actor Eugene Levy, agreed with the protesters who raged against Chappelle for telling jokes they deemed “transphobic.” That’s despite the empathy the stand-up shared during that special, and previously, for the trans community.
The “Good Place” star similarly lashed out at Chappelle for his “Closer” jokes, saying she wished he would stay away for a “long time.”
The far-Left late night host spends every waking hour mocking Republicans. Yet he spared some extra time last year to chuckle over a children’s author’s work getting memory holed by the woke mob. Cancel Culture scolds pressured the company behind Dr. Seuss’s beloved books to erase six classic books due to “racist” imagery.
No vote. No debate. Just stories wished into the cornfield, never to return.
“It’s a responsible move on their part … they recognize the impact of these images on readers, especially kids,” Colbert told his CBS audience after the cultural book burning.
The “Avengers” star is among Hollywood’s most vocal progressives. He’s also keen on seeing his political foes removed from social media. It’s why he applauded when President Trump got banned by Twitter. It’s worth noting that other stars similarly approved Twitter’s decision (like Cohen), but the Oscar nominee is arguably the most notable star in that group.
The Rolling Stones
The celebrated rockers removed one of their classic songs, “Brown Sugar,” from their playlist after a very small group of people complained the lyrics were problematic.
“Didn’t they understand this was a song about the horrors of slavery? But they’re trying to bury it,” Guitarist Keith Richards told the press before his mates axed the beloved track.
The band later said “Brown Sugar” may return to their live set list in the future.
The creative mind behind “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and other bawdy hits isn’t a fan of Fox News.
No crime there.
Apatow takes his rage against the right-leaning channel further than most, though. He recently shared a Tweet suggesting the station’s license should be removed, presumably, for sharing news and opinions he doesn’t appreciate.
He swiftly deleted the Tweet without explanation.
Ironically, Apatow has been one of the few voices willing to critique Hollywood for self-censorship when it comes to China.
“For me what I perceive as more chilling is a corporate type of censorship that people don’t really notice, which is a lot of these giant corporate entities have business with countries around the world, Saudi Arabia, China, and they’re just not going to criticize them and they’re not going to let their shows criticize them or they’re not going to air documentaries that go deep into truthful areas because they just make so much money,” he explained. “So, while we’re all going, ‘can we say this joke or not say that joke?’ on a much bigger level, they’ve just completely shut down critical content about human rights abuses in China. And I think that’s much scarier.”
The comedienne turned “activist” flexed her free speech rights during her tenure at E! Entertainment. She’s had a change of heart since then, sharing her joy when conspiracy monger Alex Jones got banned from social media. Later, she suggested comics telling racially insensitive jokes should be put in prison (ignoring her own history of doing just that).
The “Will & Grace” alum similarly hailed social media sites for removing Jones from their platforms, unaware of the slippery slope effect to come. Messing took her speech suppression a step further, though.
She suggested she wouldn’t work with anyone who had contributed to President Donald Trump’s campaign coffers, agreeing with her old co-star, Eric McCormack, on the matter. She even suggested “outing” the people in question, presumably so they can be punished in some fashion for WrongThink.
When even the far-Left “View” recoiled at her thinking Messing backtracked.
More recently, Messing cheered when she thought Barry Manilow had joined Neil Young’s censorial protest against Spotify.
Thank you @barrymanilow for taking a surefooted step to support science, and protest potentially lethal misinformation disseminated by @Spotify via #JoeRogan. Over 800,000 Americans have DIED in 2 years. LIVES must come before revenue. #Spotifydeleted
— Debra Messing✍🏻 (@DebraMessing) January 27, 2022
The ultimate irony?
Young quickly pulled down his ultimatum letter from his web site regarding Spotify and Rogan. Perhaps he realized the optics of a protest singer protesting on behalf of less speech, not more.