In a recent podcast, Jon Stewart showed that he is still an independent thinker that values free speech. The former host of the Daily Show sided with podcast star Joe Rogan, who is facing a massive censorship campaign. Stewart told media outlets and musicians calling for Rogan’s de-platforming that “This overreaction is a mistake.”
While Jon Stewart may be on the left, he is an old-school liberal that still holds dear to his heart the values of freedom of speech and the right to expression. When asked what he would say to musicians who are considering leaving Spotify to protest Rogan’s “Dangerous misinformation,” Stewart said:
Don’t leave. Don’t abandon. Don’t Censor. Engage.
Jon Stewart, in simple terms, is describing the Counterspeech Doctrine of the First Amendment. This doctrine argues that when dealing with hateful speech or “misinformation,” the best approach is not to censor it but to counter it with better speech.
The foundation of the Counterspeech doctrine is the understanding that when open debate is allowed, truth always rises to the surface. To use Stewart’s words, when there is speech you disagree with, don’t censor it; engage with it.
Steward continued along that point, saying,
I’m not saying it’s always going to work out fruitfully, but I’m always of the mindset that engagement, and especially with someone like a Joe Rogan, who is not, in my mind an ideologue in any way.
Not only are all mainstream media outlets calling for Rogan’s de-platforming, but even the White House is urging Spotify to take further action against the podcaster. All of these institutions refer to Rogan as a dangerous peddler of misinformation. Jon Stewart rejects this false narrative and claims he understands Joe Rogan to be of an open mind and not an “ideologue in any way.”
Stewart thought it was ridiculous that many call for Rogan’s cancellation just because of who he decides to talk with. It made the former Daily Show host reflect on pushback he received for having Bill O’Reilly on his show:
I always used to get asked was ‘Why did you have O’Reilly on your show?’ And I go, ‘Well, I have people in my family that are to the right of him. And I still talk to them.
In the end, what Stewart is calling for is unity, even with those we disagree with:
But my point is we all exist in this world and on this planet… But this overreaction to Rogan, I think, is a mistake. I really do.
It’s relieving to see that there are still influential people on the left that will voice support for core American values, like freedom of speech.
The former host of the Daily show is showing principled courage by standing up for Rogan’s right to speak, even if he doesn’t agree with what he is saying.
Dave Brown is the Co-Founder and a writer for The Great American Syndicate. Follow him on Instagram at @davebrownlive
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