Joe Rogan, Bernie Sanders, and the Intellectual Dark Web

Politics makes strange bedfellows.

Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders was endorsed earlier this week by Joe Rogan, a comedian who hosts a popular podcast. The event sparked an interesting conversation.

I’ve long been aware of Rogan. He played a supporting role on the sitcom “News Radio” way back in 1995. While I found his character somewhat annoying, I loved the show and watched every week, even after the tragic murder of star Phil Hartman. Rogan hosted “Fear Factor,” of which I saw a few episodes at my parents’ house. And I’ve even seen a couple of his stand-up routines on Netflix.

But his podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience,” is apparently a very big deal. A piece at Vice yesterday claims, “Joe Rogan’s Endorsement Is One of the Most Influential in America.”

Joe Rogan is one of the most influential people in media. That doesn’t mean he’s a good interviewer or a responsible communicator when speaking to a large and devoted audience, but it is a fact. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact size of his podcast’s audience, but Rogan’s official YouTube channel has 7.3 million subscribers and he recently claimed his podcast gets 190 million downloads a month.

When Elon Musk goes on Rogan’s show and smokes a blunt, Tesla stocks take a tumble (though as Rogan notes at every opportunity, they quickly bounced back). It was a big deal when Bernie Sanders sat down with Rogan for an hour-long interview in August, and an even bigger deal earlier this week when Rogan said that he would probably vote for Sanders in the upcoming election. Sanders is not the first presidential candidate to go on Rogan’s podcast—Tulsi Gabbard has been on several times—nor is Sanders the first candidate to get something resembling an endorsement from Rogan. Rogan hosted and voted for Libertarian Gary Johnson in 2016.

And, to think, without Rogan’s endorsement Johnson might have been a non-factor. Oh, wait.

Rogan apparently tends Libertarian and no amount of endorsement is going to make that party viable. But, obviously, Sanders is a different story—a plausible Democratic nominee with a chance at winning the whole thing if he gets on the ticket.

So, why is the endorsement—-and, especially, Sanders’ publicizing said endorsement—an issue?

Rogan’s endorsement, and the video Sanders shared on Twitter in particular, has caused some controversy among people who argue that Rogan is a bigot who should be marginalized, ignored, or disavowed.

Rogan hasn’t wielded his power with much responsibility: He’s given people like Chuck Johnson, Milo Yiannopoulos, Alex Jones, Stefan Molyneux, and Gavin McInnes access to his gigantic audience, and Rogan rarely challenges his guests on their views, allowing them to launder their bad ideas on his show. Data & Society researcher Becca Lewis has argued that Rogan giving a platform to these people has led his audience down more extremist rabbit holes on YouTube. Lewis describes Rogan as a “libertarian influencer with mainstream appeal.”

“When [Rogan] hosts other members of the Intellectual Dark Web, it’s easy to get drawn into that world,” Lewis told Motherboard in 2018. That Rogan is an entry point to other YouTube and podcast influencers speaks to his own influence; whether Rogan’s endorsement matters doesn’t depend on whether Rogan himself is GOOD or BAD, it’s whether his endorsement moves the needle. And given how much discussion there is about his endorsement and what we know about Rogan’s overall influence, it almost certainly does.

A big part of Rogan’s appeal is that he’s an average Joe. Sitting down with him for an interview is not the same as doing a quick spot on CNN or Fox News. His interviews are long (often more than three hours), meandering, and silly. It gives subjects the chance to speak at length and often put their foot in their mouth. For his listeners, a recommendation from Rogan is like a recommendation from a friend, if your friend was talking to millions of people at once. It has the appearance of raw, emotional authenticity. It is the exact opposite of a measured, calculated endorsement from the New York Times.

What seems to have made lots of people mad, however, is that Sanders has embraced the endorsement.

Aside from giving what appears to be a rather large platform to white supremacists and other creeps, Rogan has said a lot of things that can reasonably be construed as racist, sexist, homophobic, and transphobic. But he’s also spoken out in favor of gay rights, which is consistent with his libertarianism.

As to Sanders, his explanation strikes me as perfectly reasonable:

“The goal of our campaign is to build a multi-racial, multi-generational movement that is large enough to defeat Donald Trump and the powerful special interests whose greed and corruption is the root cause of the outrageous inequality in America,” the Sanders campaign told Motherboard in a statement. “Sharing a big tent requires including those who do not share every one of our beliefs, while always making clear that we will never compromise our values. The truth is that by standing together in solidarity, we share the values of love and respect that will move us in the direction of a more humane, more equal world.”

As to Rogan, I don’t know enough to have strong views. My default position is to give benefit of the doubt to comedians trying to get a laugh. Guys like Ricky Gervais and Dave Chappelle say some things in their acts that would be godawful in different contexts. And I’m inclined to give even more leeway to someone like Rogan doing a three-hour, off-the-cuff bit in a podcast.

I’m not sure I’d have bothered to write about this incident at all given that I don’t have particularly strong views on Rogan and am far from a Sanders supporter. But I was intrigued by the “intellectual dark web” reference above. A column last May by Bari Weis (“Meet the Renegades of the Intellectual Dark Web“) supplies some context.

Here are some things that you will hear when you sit down to dinner with the vanguard of the Intellectual Dark Web: There are fundamental biological differences between men and women. Free speech is under siege. Identity politics is a toxic ideology that is tearing American society apart. And we’re in a dangerous place if these ideas are considered “dark.”

So far, so good.

What is the I.D.W. and who is a member of it? It’s hard to explain, which is both its beauty and its danger.

Most simply, it is a collection of iconoclastic thinkers, academic renegades and media personalities who are having a rolling conversation — on podcasts, YouTube and Twitter, and in sold-out auditoriums — that sound unlike anything else happening, at least publicly, in the culture right now. Feeling largely locked out of legacy outlets, they are rapidly building their own mass media channels.
The closest thing to a phone book for the I.D.W. is a sleek website that lists the dramatis personae of the network, including [Sam Harris, a neuroscientist]; [Eric Weinstein, a mathematician and managing director of Thiel Capital] and his brother and sister-in-law, the evolutionary biologists Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying; Jordan Peterson, the psychologist and best-selling author; the conservative commentators Ben Shapiro and Douglas Murray; Maajid Nawaz, the former Islamist turned anti-extremist activist; and the feminists Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Christina Hoff Sommers. But in typical dark web fashion, no one knows who put the website up.

That’s . . . confusing. I don’t know some of these people at all. But the ones I do seem to be all over the map politically and intellectually—in terms of not only belief system but brainpower. Indeed, that’s the case.

The core members have little in common politically. Bret and Eric Weinstein and Ms. Heying were Bernie Sanders supporters. Mr. Harris was an outspoken Hillary voter. Ben Shapiro is an anti-Trump conservative.

But they all share three distinct qualities. First, they are willing to disagree ferociously, but talk civilly, about nearly every meaningful subject: religion, abortion, immigration, the nature of consciousness. Second, in an age in which popular feelings about the way things ought to be often override facts about the way things actually are, each is determined to resist parroting what’s politically convenient. And third, some have paid for this commitment by being purged from institutions that have become increasingly hostile to unorthodox thought — and have found receptive audiences elsewhere.

Framed that way, I’m on board. Indeed, that strikes me as the essence of democratic society.

Which brings us to Rogan:

“People are starved for controversial opinions,” said Joe Rogan, an MMA color commentator and comedian who hosts one of the most popular podcasts in the country. “And they are starved for an actual conversation.”

That hunger has translated into a booming and, in many cases, profitable market.Episodes of “The Joe Rogan Experience,” which have featured many members of the I.D.W., can draw nearly as big an audience as Rachel Maddow. A recent episode featuring Bret Weinstein and Ms. Heying talking about gender, hotness, beauty and #MeToo was viewed on YouTube over a million times, even though the conversation lasted for nearly three hours.

But, obviously, there’s more to this non-movement movement than frank dialog? There’s an obvious problem with normalizing white supremacy, to a lesser extent, the anti-anti-racism schtick of a Candace Owens. But where one draws that line is unclear.

Most of the objections I’ve seen on Twitter to Sanders’ touting of Rogan’s endorsement surround this controversy:

Rogan’s style is brash, unfiltered, and often provocative. A former UFC commentator, he has been slammed for calling athletes “faggots” and using the word “gay” as an insult. While he has previously claimed to be “100% in favor of transgender people,” he has come out against the use of puberty blockers in transgender youth and railed against trans women competing in women’s sports. 

In a 2013 podcast episode, Rogan said transgender MMA fighter Fallon Fox was “not really a she.”

“She’s a transgender, post-op person,” he told a co-host who asked about “that tranny.” “The operation doesn’t shave down your bone density. It doesn’t change.”

“You’re a fucking man. That’s a man, OK?” he continued. “I don’t care if you don’t have a dick any more.”

That’s obviously harsh. And extremely hurtful if you’re trans. But it’s also rather obviously partly a bro comic schtick, rendered harsher for effect by the provocative way in which it’s stated. The ideas themselves are frankly rather mainstream, not all that different from things Hillary Clinton has said repeatedly in recent months.

It’s rather clear that Sanders holds a different view. And an endorsement from Rogan is light years different from one by David Duke. It’s not at all clear to me at what point one crosses a line whereby a celebrity endorsement is so toxic that it must be renounced. But I don’t think we’re anywhere close to it here.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Bernie Sanders, Campaign 2020, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. de stijl says:

    There was no reason for Bernie’s team to flout this.

    People who habitually listen to Rogan’s podcast are not likely Bernie voters.

    The ideas Rogan espouses may be now mainstream, or majority held, but that hold is fading and very quickly. America is okay with trans folk and trending towards very okay.

    HRC’s comment is not applicable. These two do not align even if you claim they do so. You are wrong.

    Rogan is interesting. He is obviously smart, observant, trenchant, incisive. But he is also a reactionary at heart.

    Bernie’s team flouting the Rogan “endorsement” was a misstep. Would’ve passed relatively unnoticed had they not underlined it.

    I will vote for the eventual D nominee. I’d prefer it were not Bernie.

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  2. Barry says:

    Aside from Bari Weiss’ endorsement not being a credit,
    it looks like Sanders feels that the ducks to hunt (using Goldwater’s term) are on the right.

    Blacks, Jews, Latinos, women are not people whose votes he’s going after.

    And I personally doubt that alt-right-friendly white guys are a profitable source of Democratic voters.

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  3. de stijl says:

    IDW is used by fascists and overt racists and mysogynists to sneak their hateful views into the mainstream.

    There is no there there.

    Reddit forums are the preferred front in their war. Idiot RW slactivist posturing, easily cowed when pressured.

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  4. 95 South says:

    Rogan isn’t a libertarian or a “member” of the Intellectual Dark Web. He’s a guy who will listen to anyone and usually believes them. He’s also completely baked. He has a lot of interests. His show is sometimes highs and lows, sometimes just lows, depending on the guest. He can start conversations no one else can because he’s so unpredictable. His endorsement of any candidate or any view will get a lot of people to consider it.

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  5. CSK says:

    @de stijl:

    You mean flaunt, not flout. To flout means to disregard openly, which the Sanders campaign clearly isn’t doing.

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  6. Teve says:

    Rogan identifies as a liberal. The fact is that he’s a heterogeneous mix of views, maybe 75% liberal and 25% aggrieved free speecher Pepe dumbass.

    If you know how to pick and choose among his podcasts, the good ones are really entertaining. Don’t listen to the ones with Jordan Peterson or some dude who claims he worked at the CIA and saw aliens, but if he’s talking to Brian Cox or that gay strongman, it’s a really interesting show.

    Rogan also identifies as a moron, but how many morons can to have a nonstop three hour conversation with Sean Carroll without notes that’s not boring or repetitive?

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  7. de stijl says:

    @CSK:

    You are so right. I effed up.

    And I studied linguistics at an exorbitant price back when.

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  8. Stormy Dragon says:

    But the ones I do seem to be all over the map politically and intellectually—in terms of not only belief system but brainpower.

    The common thread is that they all have some romanticized version of white upper-middle class society as the one true way of living and treat and variation from that ideal as being evidence of an organized conspiracy to install a dictatorship. This leads to them frequently engaging in implicit racism, sexism, islamophobia, etc. and makes them a gateway to various extremist groups.

    e.g Joe Rogan hosts people like Sam Harris on his podcast. Sam Harris hosts people like Charles Murray on his Podcast. etc. Each step takes the viewers another step down the road to radicalization.

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  9. de stijl says:

    @CSK:

    My primary linguistics professor was a crazy German woman. Whose name I have forgotten. She was very cool.

    I used to ask her to say Jazz as a German speaker. It comes out as yatz. It amused me greatly.

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  10. 95 South says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Six Degrees of Thought-Crime

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  11. de stijl says:

    I miss News Radio.

    The fabulous Stephen Root. Andy Dick before he was a basic addled addict.

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  12. de stijl says:

    Rogan is fascinating.

    Bright, loquacious, proud.

    He reminds of Steven A. Smith. A total prick who is also intetesting.

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  13. Teve says:

    @de stijl: if Stephen A. Smith got run over by a bulldozer I would throw a party. He’s fucking obnoxious.

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  14. t says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    e.g Joe Rogan hosts people like Sam Harris on his podcast.

    rogan also has had on people like cornell west, a few astrophysicists, journalists, and the worlds only openly gay strongman.

    @Stormy Dragon:

    The common thread is that they all have some romanticized version of white upper-middle class society as the one true way of living and treat and variation from that ideal as being evidence of an organized conspiracy to install a dictatorship.

    getting angry white guys to vote for medicare for all so trans people and uninsured minorities can get healthcare is actually a good thing.

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  15. de stijl says:

    I should know “flout”.

    I did data analysis for a mortgage company way back when and they had a column header called flout_dt.

    It actually meant “fallout date”, but I initially interpreted that as the date the mortgagee openly flouted the conditions of the agreement and was blatantly refusing to pay. Fight the power!

    The client was less frivolous than me and corrected me: it was just “fallout date”. No idea what fallout date means. They wanted it stored and displayed in the UI if not null. I complied.

    I worked with mortgage companies for decades after. Still, no idea what fallout date means. It was a stub data element that triggered nothing. It just sat there in a corner, doing nothing, intermittently observed.

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  16. de stijl says:

    @Teve:

    Steven A. Smith is the embodiment of prideful jackholery. He is very obnoxious.

    Sometimes he is is right. He can have a correct take.

    Obnoxiousness and intelligence and correctness are not mutually exclusive.

    I worked with a boatload of people who were smart, correct and yet also total assholes.

    People you like can be wrong. People you dislike can be right.

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  17. Stormy Dragon says:

    @de stijl:

    In the period between when the mortgage application has been approved and when the secured deal actually closes, the fallout date is the date when the initial approval becomes void and the borrower has to reapply for a new approval.

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  18. de stijl says:

    @Teve:

    I once reported to an Irish guy who was a total asshole. In that role, he gave me daily direction. OMFG, that guy was such an obnoxious, condescending, blatantly rude jerk-ass.

    He was also brilliant. Truly gifted.

    Learned more from jack-ass Gerry than all my other gigs combined.

    He was insufferable. Called me ~20 times a day; changed my action items and agenda on a whim. As a leader, he was utterly horrible; as a technician he was a true genius.

    My worst work experience made me way better. Exponentionally is a loaded word, but close enough to invoke. Gerry was a truly shite person and also a great mentor (mentor is not the right word, but you get the idea.)

    Turns out, he was partnered with my bosses’ boss, who was a job hopping mercenary. They got sued later by us. Karma rocks!

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  19. Gustopher says:

    @de stijl:

    Bernie’s team flouting the Rogan “endorsement” was a misstep. Would’ve passed relatively unnoticed had they not underlined it.

    I think he should have flouted that endorsement… but done it with “we disagree about some things, and I certainly disagree with some of his statements on X, Y and Z, but we both agree agree that this country needs change and I am proud to have his support.”

    Joe Rogan is (rather mysteriously to anyone who stopped paying attention to him after Newsradio) very influential. While his show can be a stepping stone to wander into the crazy town of the “(Pseudo) Intellectual Dark Web”, it can also be a stepping stone for those in crazy town to surface and see the real world.

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  20. Gustopher says:

    @95 South:

    Rogan isn’t a libertarian or a “member” of the Intellectual Dark Web. He’s a guy who will listen to anyone and usually believes them. He’s also completely baked. He has a lot of interests.

    If this website allowed embedded gifs, you would get a “why not both?” meme here.

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  21. de stijl says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Ah! Gotcha!

    I almost exclusively worked with post closing data, so fallout date was then moot. Closing already happened.

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  22. Gustopher says:

    I’ve long been aware of Rogan. He played a supporting role on the sitcom “News Radio” way back in 1995. While I found his character somewhat annoying, I loved the show and watched every week, even after the tragic murder of star Phil Hartman.

    I loved that show.

    Once I had a boss who explained to me (after I had done something… I don’t remember what) that most people have a work personality and then a real personality, and that I might want to try that. I explained that my work personality was modeled after Phil Hartman’s character from Newsradio. My boss had a sad.

    I regret not coming in the next day with a cane. Ahem. Walking stick.

    Also, I recommend Better off Ted for anyone who missed it, and who loved Newsradio.

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  23. TJ says:

    @Stormy Dragon: This is a completely ridiculous and inaccurate analysis of members of the IDW. People like you are the reason Trump won the election.

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  24. Jay L Gischer says:

    Framed that way, I’m on board. Indeed, that strikes me as the essence of democratic society.

    And that’s why I come here regularly. Because you have that attitude.

    But the IDW figures listed really don’t have much of anything interesting to say. What they have is the sexy allure of “forbidden knowledge” and “taboo breaking”. Which is eye-rolling. But it’s understandable as a pushback to that (somewhat small) group of leftists who think free speech favors oppressors (strangely, free speech probably does favor oppressors, but not as much as censorship does), and so we should get rid of if.

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  25. 95 South says:

    @Gustopher: It’s not easy to describe Rogan. Since James is a NewsRadio fan, I should have said he’s Joe Garrelli. Then James is supposed to reply, “Joe’s last name is Garrelli?”

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  26. de stijl says:

    @Gustopher:

    Also, Parks & Rec is a direct descendant as is Brooklyn nine-nine. Both are sublime examples.

    The workplace sitcom setting is ur.

    The Dick Van Dyke Show, the Mary Tyler Moore Show, etc. Foundational.

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  27. Andy says:

    I’m a Joe Rogan listener depending on the guest (I’m not interested in comedians, or MMA, so I skip those shows, which are probably 2/3 of the total). I listened to the Bernie Sanders show in its entirety. Tulsi Gabbard was on as well and that one was pretty good. Many of the shows he does are very good.

    The appeal of Rogan is that he is willing to listen just about anybody, he doesn’t push an agenda or play “gotcha” and he doesn’t give a fuck about critics. Frankly, I think that’s why he’s so popular – he comes off as genuine and his approach is a refreshing alternative to talk radio and TV.

    Every candidate should want to be on his show – he would give them an extended platform to lay out their views and all without the usual BS found on TV interviews to a very large audience.

    If I were Sander’s I’d be promoting this endorsement as well – it’s smart politics. The people criticizing this seem more interested in crushing ideological heresy than anything else. And their criticism of Rogan is because he is willing to interview people they don’t like. This is a great example of how the deplatforming movement among some liberals is just stupid.

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  28. Gustopher says:

    @Andy:

    The people criticizing this seem more interested in crushing ideological heresy than anything else. And their criticism of Rogan is because he is willing to interview people they don’t like. This is a great example of how the deplatforming movement among some liberals is just stupid.

    I think there are a bunch of different complaints (mostly wrong complaints) and you’re lumping them together.

    – Don’t accept an endorsement from someone who has made problematic comments
    – Don’t engage with the fringe because that directly legitimizes it
    – Avoid anyone who doesn’t avoid the Jordan Petersons and Milo Yannipolises of the world lest we all slide down the slippery slope (indirect legitimacy of things one step worse)

    Those are the main arguments, and I think each has some merit to them, but not enough in this case. Things to be aware of and consider, but without a bright line.

    I think Rogan is irresponsible to give a platform to the Proud Boys founder and that ilk — the people who straddle the line from politics to inciting violence. And the people who want to draw a bright line there have a good point. I don’t see that as “crushing political heresy” — you are judged by who your friends are. It’s the same attitude as our sanctions against Iran — you can do business with them or us, but not both.

    I don’t know where to draw that line, but I don’t think Joe Rogan thinks enough about that line. He just wants to chat, thinks all ideas are roughly equal, and will lend his platform to those who carefully step up to the line and stop just short of clearly promoting violence and explicit racism.

    I do think more candidates should appear on his show, as most of the listeners are reachable.

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  29. de stijl says:

    @Andy:
    @Gustopher:

    I’m not sure that you could call Rogan a nuanced or a sophisticated thinker, but he is not an alt-right drone.

    He is often fond of Libertarian policy proposals, so endorsing Sanders is interesting and surprising.

    Rogan is not a tribal idiot.

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  30. de stijl says:

    I wish Terry Gross got as much media attention as Rogan.

    She is the best interviewer extant. And Fresh Air is the best interview show that currently exists.

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  31. Andy says:

    @Gustopher:

    Those are the main arguments, and I think each has some merit to them, but not enough in this case. Things to be aware of and consider, but without a bright line.

    Yes, I think your three cases are better than my one.

    I don’t see that as “crushing political heresy” — you are judged by who your friends are.

    The thing is, I don’t know that any of these people (besides maybe his regular guests) are his friends.

    I think Rogan is irresponsible to give a platform to the Proud Boys founder and that ilk — the people who straddle the line from politics to inciting violence.

    I take a contrary view, that we need to hear the views of such people so that we can see them for what they are. I don’t think that suppressing or de-platforming extremist opinion ever worked very well and it sure doesn’t work in today’s diverse media environment. And, trying to deplatform those who give such people platform is even more counterproductive in my view.

    @de stijl:

    Yes, I agree with that completely.

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  32. Modulo Myself says:

    For the record, Joe Rogan interviews guys like Graham Hancock along with the IDW guys, which makes sense because they operate with the same strategy except that Hancock’s schtick is actually interesting in a stoned way, whereas the IDW is merely sad. The scattered logic in the Rogan brain is less about fighting anti-pc battles and more about just asking questions that They don’t want you to know.

    But the bottom line is that what many average people care about–money, good health, useful amounts of hedonism, human connection, a stable job with a boss who isn’t a total prick–equals a life of not being dead inside. To me, Rogan seems to offer than in a stoner-bro way to his audience.

    I think Bernie is probably the only candidate who can connect with people who are not well-educated who actually want a better existence. Standing up for oneself is a big thing.

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  33. de stijl says:

    @de stijl:

    I developed my own naming standards. I always led with the type:

    int_
    dt_
    amt_
    dtm_
    txt_
    Etc.,

    And being as explicit as space allowes, so dt_fallout would have been much readable and understandable under my schema.

    I would know it was a date. And I would know it was the fallout date.

    Don’t eliminate vowels if the header space allows. If you have limited
    chars go dt_fallout, not flout_dt.

    Type first then succinct descriptor.

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  34. Gustopher says:

    @de stijl: I wouldn’t waste the valuable characters on the type — I’d worry more about a meaningful name. You can look up the type, and if you get it wrong things will fail spectacularly.

    Fallout Date might need “date” because that’s part of how it is commonly referred, rather than that it’s a date. And to distinguish from Fallout Consequences or whatever.

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  35. Gustopher says:

    @Andy:

    I don’t think that suppressing or de-platforming extremist opinion ever worked very well and it sure doesn’t work in today’s diverse media environment. And, trying to deplatform those who give such people platform is even more counterproductive in my view.

    Not sure I agree with the first — how often do you hear about Milo? He was effectively deplatformed. He was also mostly an idiot troll. He monetized outrage. There will be another, but I think a limited shelf life of each individual can help, as it cuts the incentives.

    More agreement on the second, at least when they act in good faith. Rogan is a goofus — he offers a platform to people he thinks will be interesting, but he’s not trying to promote any real agenda. Liberals should want to be on his show to get access to his platform, maybe ask him questions about how he uses it to see if he will come around on the worst, pester him about past comments*, and use up space that might otherwise be used by people like the Proud Boys guy — deplatforming by occupying the platform.

    I’m sure that there are people worse than Rogan, though. I wouldn’t suggest a liberal go on Hannity, for instance, unless they understand his agenda and how to get their own points across.

    *: He’s a libertarian-ish bro with a decent heart and poor impulses. I don’t think he would be an ally on trans issues if pressed, but probably not an enemy either.

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  36. de stijl says:

    @Gustopher:

    We can agree that Fallout 4 and Fallout 76 both missed the mark in their respective genres. I kinda appreciate Fallout 4, but 76 was an utter failure that might kill the studio. I’d have to look it up… Obsidian? No, they did New Vegas which rocks. Not BioWare. It starts with b. Bethesda! That’s it.

    They tried to extend the brand and ended up essentially killing it.

    I disagree on type_descriptor. It might be habit or hubris, but that is my jam. I like and want dt_fallout over flout_dt. It is much more grokkable to me.

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  37. de stijl says:

    I’m both for free speech and also the effort to deplatform Nazis and misogynist gamer gate dudes.

    Is that at all reconciliable? I identify as liberal and fairly left; is that desire out of bounds?

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  38. Andy says:

    @Gustopher:

    Not sure I agree with the first — how often do you hear about Milo? He was effectively deplatformed.

    Honestly I never even heard of Milo until all the protests against him and attempts to deplatform him got reported. If that hadn’t happened I’m sure I would have no idea who he is.

    Milo is actually a good example of the ineffectiveness of trying to silence people. He got all sorts of interviews and exposure from that controversy. I didn’t watch any of the interviews, but my sense is that once people saw what Milo actually had to say, they concluded that he’s a douchey kook not worth listening to.

    Said another way, people who say extreme and stupid things should be allowed to hang themselves with their own rope. That’s the most effective way to deplatform.

    I’m sure that there are people worse than Rogan, though. I wouldn’t suggest a liberal go on Hannity, for instance, unless they understand his agenda and how to get their own points across.

    Sure, Hannity or Maddow have agendas and would be cross-examining a political opponent at every turn and trying to keep them constantly on the defensive. Plus their shtick is outrage. That’s why Rogan is so much better IMO. He’s not trying to own libtards or rethuglicans.

    We can agree that Fallout 4 and Fallout 76 both missed the mark in their respective genres. I kinda appreciate Fallout 4, but 76 was an utter failure that might kill the studio.

    I liked Fallout 4 a lot but agree New Vegas was the pinnacle. I never bothered with 76 due to the reviews and obvious problems with the game. Hopefully they learn from their mistakes with Elder Scrolls 6 and Starfield.

    If nothing else, I can always dive into Witcher 3 again and find RPG happiness.

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  39. Gustopher says:

    @de stijl: How do you want to deplatform them?

    Contact advertisers, and let them know you won’t use their product? That sounds like free speech to me.

    Show up on the Joe Rogan Experience to describe your MMA based exercise program to promote mindfulness and discourage unwanted alien butt probes, all while slurping up a slot that might otherwise go to a nazi-adjacent crazy? Sounds like free speech.

    Complain to Twitter and Facebook that the Gamergate misogynist is violating terms of service? Again, this sounds like free speech.

    Call your legislator to ask for laws to ban their speech? That sounds like you using your free speech to promote unconstitutional laws that would be struck down in court, so… fine? Borderline?

    Hound, harass, threaten and SWAT them so the price of exercising their speech is so high they give up? We need better laws against this behavior. But don’t do it.

    Shoot them in the street like the dogs they are? Well that sounds like murder and we should look into your treatment of dogs.

    The simple truth is that you cannot deplatform anyone unless you own the platform. And most of the things that folks call deplatforming are just part and parcel of way we deal with speech.

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  40. de stijl says:

    @Andy:

    We should be friends.

    Now replaying Dragon Age: Origins as dwarf warrior. It’s disconcerting; Rogue is OP and my fave. Mage as a class in that game series is a glass pea shooter, but there is an unearned achievement to get a mage to level 20, and I am a sucker for achievements.

    Warrior class is uninteresting. Advance, bash, repeat.

    Life should be like an RPG. Get XP and loot for doing the hard bits so you can level up for the harder bits to come.

    Instead it’s a slow tragedy that you are never sure when it’s going to suck more.

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  41. Gustopher says:

    @Andy: You were never Milo’s audience. That’s why you didn’t hear about him until the very end.

    He presented as cool and in your face and making bigotry appealing to a very different crowd than you.

    Next topic:

    To use an overly extreme metaphor, if the Hannity show is enemy territory, the Joe Rogan Experience is occupied territory. Lightly occupied. It’s a spot where we should have lefty bombthrowers making bold statements to compete. I’m not surprised Bernie plays well there. Chuck Schumer would be awful.

    We need left wing gadflies who can phrase things in the language of the self help movement. We need a lefty Jordan Peterson.

    “Being a man means being strong enough to act, but knowing when to act. We want to help boys become better men. Men who are strong enough to show compassion, and are proud of it…”

    Next topic:

    I never played fallout.

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  42. de stijl says:

    @Gustopher:

    Try Fallout: New Vegas or Fallout 3 as the entry into the series if you wish.

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  43. Andy says:

    @de stijl:

    I never played any of the Dragon Age series. I do feel like I missed out, but I don’t have the time for gaming like I used to.

    Life should be like an RPG. Get XP and loot for doing the hard bits so you can level up for the harder bits to come.

    Instead it’s a slow tragedy that you are never sure when it’s going to suck more.

    Truth. Life should have respawns too.

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  44. de stijl says:

    @Gustopher:

    I was a heretical youngster. I believed in and wished for more equality and equitable resolutions in civil society.

    Hetetical so much that I feared to speak them aloud in most circumstances except with my closest friends. Definitely not to my family.

    Yes, it was to extend liberty and equality and not to restrict or deny it.

    It is a tricky road. And we must be careful.

    Derision and scorn are weapons used for both bad and good.

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  45. Andy says:

    @Gustopher:

    You were never Milo’s audience. That’s why you didn’t hear about him until the very end.

    Definitely true that I’m not Milo’s audience. But I wonder how the efforts made against him played out with the people that do like him. My guess is that the perceived attempts to silence him ended up giving him more credibility and exposure with that audience.

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  46. Kylopod says:

    @Teve:

    Rogan identifies as a liberal. The fact is that he’s a heterogeneous mix of views, maybe 75% liberal and 25% aggrieved free speecher Pepe dumbass.

    I saw him in an interview in which he unhesitatingly identified as a progressive. But he sounded to me a lot like a “Fox News Dem,” the kind who claims to lean leftward then goes around spouting conservative talking points. For example, he parroted the right-wing myth that foreigners are rushing to America to enjoy its superior health care. He also defended Steven Crowder’s homophobic, racist attacks against Carlos Maza, claiming it was all in the name of comedy. He defended Crowder’s anti-transgender humor by pointing to Mrs. Doubtfire.

    I suppose there is a space in our political culture for disaffected white dudes who want to be “anti-PC” but still support universal health care. Rogan, though, seems to cover all bases, which is why I suppose he’s being described as “libertarian.” Unlike a Fox News Dem, he may be sincere in his views. Which is to say I think he’s somewhat ideologically muddled.

    @95 South:

    Rogan isn’t a libertarian or a “member” of the Intellectual Dark Web.

    Nobody’s a “member” of the IDW, since it’s such a vaguely defined concept to begin with. The term has been applied to a fairly standard conservative like Ben Shapiro, as well as to people who identify as liberal or centrist, as well as to some who claim to be apolitical (e.g. Jordan Peterson). It’s been applied to religious folks like Shapiro as well as to ardent atheists like Sam Harris. It’s been applied to several Jews as well as to a borderline white supremacist (Stefan Molyneux).

    What ties all these people together is that they’re furthering a narrative–sometimes explicit, sometimes less so–that “the left” is the prime obstacle to the free transmission of ideas, and this claim becomes a pretext for the dissemination of deeply reactionary, right-wing ideas, under the fallacious martyr-driven reasoning that extremists are always clinging to, the notion that their ideas must have merit if so many people are trying to suppress them. There’s quite a bit of evidence that, for a lot of viewers to these channels, the IDW serves as a “pipeline” to the alt-right. Indeed, the boundary between the IDW and the alt-right gets pretty fuzzy at the borders. To that end Rogan’s basically just a useful idiot. If you think that’s an insult, it really isn’t. It’s the most generous interpretation I can come up with for his shtick.

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  47. de stijl says:

    @Andy:

    I would like life to have save scumming.

    Do your best. It fails.

    Reload to last save; try again.

    Reload again for optimal resolution.

    I remember reloading to last save TES: Oblivion dozens of times to get the chameleon perk stone.

    Life is a one take movie. No saves. No reloads.

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  48. de stijl says:

    @Kylopod:

    Unless you are really wealthy, our health care system sucks compared to our European and Asian peers. As to the tune of 30th out if 34 in outcomes. Sucks to be you, Albania!

    If Rogan believes and says that people illegally come to the US because of our exceptional health care, he is shockingly factually wrong, and terribly deluded.

    I do view him as a libertarian. Little l. Those folks do claim him as one; check Reason and their Hit & Run blog.

    Factually wrong, deluded, libertarian, I totally know this type!

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  49. James Joyner says:

    @de stijl:

    If Rogan believes and says that people illegally come to the US because of our exceptional health care, he is shockingly factually wrong, and terribly deluded.

    I don’t have any context for Rogan’s claim but, presumably, the people aren’t coming from Asia or Western Europe but rather Mexico and other parts of Latin America?

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  50. MarkedMan says:

    @95 South: I’m not sure why this got so heavily down voted. It’s opinion, not verifiable facts. He is negative towards the subject of the blog post, not the blog poster or the commentariat here. On top of that, it was downright pithy:

    He’s a guy who will listen to anyone and usually believes them.

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  51. Kylopod says:

    The quotes I cited from Rogan were from an interview he did with progressive radio-host David Pakman (whom I’m a fan of) last summer. The interview (which can be seen here) is over 2 hours long, and I don’t expect people here to watch the entire thing. The quote where I remembered Rogan claiming that foreigners are rushing to the US to enjoy its superior health care (and just to be clear, I never suggested he was saying it about illegals per se) was milder than I remembered. What he said was (at 23:59), “I have friends in Canada who have come down here to get surgery.” And you have to consider the larger context of their conversation on health care (which begins at about 18:40). Throughout most of the conversation, Rogan struck somewhat of a liberal/progressive tone. When Pakman articulated his personal philosophy of “social democracy” (which many people confuse with “democratic socialism,” and which is probably a more accurate characterization of Bernie Sanders’ beliefs than his own self-description), Rogan appeared to agree with him. That’s why I’m hesitant to slap the “libertarian” label on Rogan; certainly he doesn’t embrace it openly, at least not in this interview.

    But Rogan also slips in what sound suspiciously like conservative talking points on health care–he claims the US system is better than the UK or Canada, and he argues that doctors are incentivized to be better doctors when there’s a profit motive. It’s one of the reasons why I concluded that Rogan’s belief system (at least on this topic) sounds muddled and confused.

    I’m not ready to question Rogan’s honesty when he claims friends from Canada are coming to the US for its better surgeries. It’s anecdotal, and it’s possible he formed conclusions not in evidence based on a few personal experiences. But it’s the sort of thing I’m always hearing from right-wingers that I’ve never seen evidence of myself, either anecdotally or based on broader research. And it says something about Rogan’s beliefs that he feels these anecdotes (accurate or not) are reflective of larger trends.

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  52. Kylopod says:

    @MarkedMan:

    @95 South: I’m not sure why this got so heavily down voted.

    It’s because @95 South wrote it. Simple as that. Back when Pearce was here, there were moments when he and I agreed on a point–yet my comment would receive upvotes, and his comment agreeing with mine would receive downvotes.

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  53. James Joyner says:

    @Kylopod:

    What he said was (at 23:59), “I have friends in Canada who have come down here to get surgery.”
    […]
    But Rogan also slips in what sound suspiciously like conservative talking points on health care–he claims the US system is better than the UK or Canada, and he argues that doctors are incentivized to be better doctors when there’s a profit motive. It’s one of the reasons why I concluded that Rogan’s belief system (at least on this topic) sounds muddled and confused.

    I haven’t listened to the podcast and really have little more to go on than a couple of stand-up specials and a vague sense of the man. But I’d hazard a guess that he’s fairly typical of a certain type of libertarian: He came from relatively little to have significant influence and wealth and thinks others could do the same if they worked harder. And, presumably, his friends likewise have money. Our system is almost certainly better than Canada’s if you’re rich, in that you can cut through waiting times and target the best specialists in a way that’s harder in a more socialized system. It’s just that Canada’s system is more efficient overall and vastly preferable if you’re on the lower end of the income range.

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  54. James Joyner says:

    @Kylopod:

    Back when Pearce was here, there were moments when he and I agreed on a point–yet my comment would receive upvotes, and his comment agreeing with mine would receive downvotes.

    What’s truly baffling to me is that I continue to stumble on comments in the not-that-distant past on older posts from Herb, Pearce’s former posting name, that were 180-out from the stuff he was posting toward the end. I truly don’t understand it.

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  55. Kit says:

    @James Joyner:

    What’s truly baffling to me is that I continue to stumble on comments in the not-that-distant past on older posts from Herb, Pearce’s former posting name, that were 180-out from the stuff he was posting toward the end. I truly don’t understand it.

    This would make a great subject for a post. Over the past two decades, so many (Christopher Hitchens immediately jumps to mind) have just gone seemingly mad. The movement is mostly to the right, and typically involves to “come to Jesus” moment.

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  56. mattbernius says:

    @Kylopod:

    It’s because @95 South wrote it. Simple as that. Back when Pearce was here, there were moments when he and I agreed on a point–yet my comment would receive upvotes, and his comment agreeing with mine would receive downvotes.

    Yup, this. It happens all the time. As with most things, the comment system gets used by different people for different purposes (including just simply a way to signal dislike of a particular person participating in a conversation).

    It also is a good reminder for folks that for as much as they say they want to hear opposing viewpoints, that is often more in theory than practice

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  57. t says:

    @James Joyner:

    I truly don’t understand it.

    OTB: I wish we had more socially conservative viewpoints here for a more varied discussion.

    Pearce: Ok here’s some socially conservative ideas

    OTB: unacceptable. those are socially conservative ideas.

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  58. mattbernius says:

    @James Joyner: I know what you are saying and I have a theory about that. But ultimately I think it is best for us and him to respect a request he made to just stop talking about him in general.

    I get why that’s hard, he was a member of the community for years and it’s human to want to have an explanation.

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  59. Stormy Dragon says:

    @TJ:

    People like you are the reason Trump won the election.

    Given a material conditional with a true consequent is valid regardless of the antecedent, I suppose this is true, albeit tautologically so.

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  60. Kylopod says:

    @Kit:

    This would make a great subject for a post. Over the past two decades, so many (Christopher Hitchens immediately jumps to mind) have just gone seemingly mad. The movement is mostly to the right, and typically involves to “come to Jesus” moment.

    I’ll have little more to say about Pearce, especially since I never really detected much in the way of ideological or policy differences with him; it was all just about how Dems were doing everything wrong. I’m not interested in probing the mindset of Internet commenters who seem to go off the deep end, since it’s such a seductive tendency in Internet culture anyway.

    But as long as we’re bringing up Hitchens, that relates quite well to this thread. He died in 2011, but I suspect that had he lived he’d have come to be associated with the IDW, just like Sam Harris, another one of the “Four Horsemen” of New Atheism, a movement that from the start had more reactionary components than its defenders cared to admit. Now I don’t mean to impugn Hitchens’ name by suggesting he’d have gone as far down the rabbit hole as Harris has. (I don’t recall him ever voicing support for race-IQ theories, for one thing, and he was also adamantly opposed to torture, going so far as to have himself waterboarded to make his point.) But I’ve noticed a parallel between him and certain figures today. There’s this phenomenon today that can best be described as anti-anti-Trumpism, a tendency among some iconoclastic commentators who create a roundabout path to Trump apologia through a sneering mockery of the bourgeoisie class who are horrified by him.

    In the previous decade there was a similar phenomenon going on with Bush, and it was exemplified by Hitchens (I think the late journalist Michael Kelly was another example). Ironically it led them in the opposite direction from Trump’s defenders: they wound up as some of the most aggressive voices in support of the War on Terror. Yet the underlying attitude has struck me as fundamentally similar–ultimately a kind of empty, knee-jerk contrarianism disguised as independent thinking. Hitchens was able to pull it off because he was so damn smart, but it was callous and inauthentic at its core.

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  61. 95 South says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I’m not sure why this got so heavily down voted.

    Four down votes is nothing. Four up votes may be a PB.

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  62. mattbernius says:

    @95 South:

    Four up votes may be a PB.

    PB?

    That’s a new one. Care to unpack that for someone whose head it’s gone totally over?

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  63. 95 South says:

    @mattbernius: Personal best.

    Did you see “Just nutha ignint cracker” on Monday’s Thread griping because one person down voted him? This is a political site. How sensitive do you have to be? How boring are your comments if you never get a single down vote?

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  64. Matt says:

    @Andy: Fallout 76 is a massive dumpster fire of a mess and anyone paying a little bit of attention to Bethesda’s prior releases saw it coming. Bethesda has a long history of making buggy/broken games that are then fixed by the modding community. When they announced they were going to release a multiplayer game using their crap engine I laughed. I laughed because the modding community already knew the game engine inside and out and the engine was just not built for an online competitive game. This became obvious quickly as hackers tore the game apart. There are so many broken things (duping hacked characters etc) going on now that even without Bethesda’s screw ups (bag nuka cola RMT) the game would be in trouble. Stay very far away from that cash grab.

    I rather quite enjoyed fallout 3 New Vegas though.

    @James Joyner: Yeah I noticed that too as I’ve been here for a long time. His most noticeable change coincided with Trump winning. Like it broke him or something.

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