It's good to go on popular shows and talk to people
Joe Rogan’s comments on transwomen in sport are based on science and most people outside of Twitter agree. He probably agrees with everything else you posted regarding military service and bathroom usage. Joe’s arguments are that transwomen who go through male puberty will have an advantage based on muscle twitch fibers, bone density and other irreversible parts of male puberty that affect the body. He also believes children shouldn’t be allowed to transition medically until they’re adults. Because we don’t know the affects of blockers and hormones long term on young children, although one study was recently released that showed decreased bone density. Children also change their minds. Adults don’t allow them to make medical decisions for good reason.
Matt if you’re going to disagree at least post his actual views on the issues. He thinks transmen should be allowed to compete with men. Your post seems a bit dishonest. This issue is only hard for people on the far left who have screamed that TWAW and can’t really have an honest conversation on Joe Rogan’s views , because it would be obvious that TWATW.
Joe is an athlete and expert on combat sports, there’s a reason he talks about it with authority.
I think that people dislike Joe Rogan for a really simple reason - his aesthetic, and that this reveals something flawed about the progressive movement that has been true for a long time.
It makes me think of The Road to Wigan Pier by Orwell where he talks about - and I'm paraphrasing, how most socialists are sandal wearing vegetarians who are more committed to socialism as an aesthetic than actually improving the material conditions of the working class.
Progressives seem to revile uneducated white working class males. Rogan is a representative of those people. So, progressives revile him.
If progressives want to win then they need to learn how to speak to those people. They don't need to change their policies - their policies are quite popular, but they need to learn how to sell them to those who stand to benefit the most.
When commitment to aesthetics and improving material conditions come into conflict then improving material conditions should almost always win out.
As I grow increasingly old and crusty, I feel the gulf between the very online youth and the very offline me growing wider. I mean, I use the internet, but not social media and my use is mostly passive information gathering.
If you are young enough to have gone through puberty and "socialized" in the social media age, I can imagine that you feel online threats as viscerally as offline threats. And there are entire online hate-groups organized against trans people, who are such a small percentage of the population that they effectively can only exist as a community online. So I think I get why there is so much youth activism around trans rights and why, to me, said youth over-reacts to any perceived threat.
What I don't get, though, is the tendency to avoid debate and discussion, opting instead to affix the suffix "phobic" to people and then refuse to hear anything they have to say. What makes even less sense to me is to extend that banishment to anyone who would associate with said phobic people in any way shape or form, even if it takes the form of debating and disagreeing with them.
The bigger issue to me is how it is possible that such obviously rational, reasonable and good things like open forums, discussions across ideological lines, debates, persuasion are rejected by what appears to be a loud minority of people that is growing (in numbers or influence). Of course Matt is right that it is good to go on popular shows and talk to people --- but it terrifies me that I cannot even begin to understand, let alone empathize with people who do not think that is a good thing.
Even for a show like Tucker Carlson or Ben Shapiro, the real value is not just to change one`s mind about the idea of one billion Americans but to change the statistical profile these viewers have of liberals or progressives in general. I think a good example is when Ezra Klein went on the Ben Shapiro Show, and came out looking very reasonable and smart! Its a form of respectability politics if one wants to be crass, but it works pretty well - especially since this does not cost you much or anything to go on a show! The conservative media ecosystem, with the Ben Shapiro Show in particular likes to say that liberals are not just wrong or dangerous but they can`t have a rational debate. So prove them wrong, go on the show!
There will always be a portion of people who will actively hate your guts on these shows, but there are a lot of passive haters and people who relied on other people`s opinions to form their opinion. Making a dent in these groups not only gets you them but also helps tip some people on the margins of those people.
There is something to be said for the point that Rogan has a conservative aesthetic but is high in openness like liberals, which rubs "twitter progressives" the wrong way but the left vs right dichotomy really doesn't apply when talking about people like Rogan, and doesn't explain why the left hates him.
I've been listening to him on and off for years and the sense I get is that he's a well-meaning guy who isn't all that well-informed about the world but is eager to learn with the caveat that he is antagonistic to placing trust in government and other institutions made up of over-educated elites who have failed time and time again. If he had Nassim Taleb on his show, they'd hit it off. It explains why in one podcast Rogan can talk about why we need universal healthcare but then in another podcast will say that he doesn't trust the government to implement it properly. It explains why Bernie appeals to him but Warren wouldn't. I don't blame him for having low trust in elites - as this pandemic has shown, left and right leaders have very little idea of what they're doing.
A lot of "twitter progressives" are the products of those very institutions. They either work there, their parents work there, or they have degrees from those places. Despite the repeated profound failings of these institutions, the left still has a lot of faith in the ability for these institutions to transform people's lives in a beneficial way. It's very difficult for these people to convince someone like Rogan that he and people like him should once again place their faith in these same institutions. (For the record, i don't think institutions today are that much worse run than institutions than in the past - our expectations are higher and we have 24/7 news telling us how bad they're failing).
And then there's the point of status. Having a fancy degree confers status to people and they feel threatened by people like Rogan who essentially disregard their status and in turn their power to wield the power of these institutions. It's the same story with Trump and Brexit.
I live in a liberal east coast bubble, both generally and personally, and it was illuminating when I slowly went public with my MMA fandom. Several others in my bubble quietly came out of the woodwork, even though the general atmosphere in our social circles is vocally against such base activities as mixed martial arts. There was a surprising number of people who just didn't want to be identified, I guess because of fear of mockery.
This comment is only tangential to the post, but Rogan is a case where I think most of the controversy is performative Twitter outrage. A lot of the anti-Rogan posturing is driven by online media figures that all went to the same 30 elite undergrad institutions, and operate in a scarcity culture where jealousy of professional success of the "non-deserving" like Rogan is normal behavior.
Good lord, there is nothing I can say here that hasn't been said 50 times. So just a couple quick points. First, I think Joe Rogan is pro trans rights and wants to support trans people as people. He has a specific view about sporting competitions that activate his human sense of unfairness. And he has a thing about letting kids, who are notorious dummies, make permanent life-altering decisions. Second, Joe knows that he is wrong about some things and he is open about it. I tend to think he is wrong about 30% of everything he says. Matt's post here talks about how important it is for people (who are wrong about 30% of everything) to engage with other people (who are wrong about 30% of everything) and I agree. But I think that misses an important point about Joe Rogan that he is a role model for good public discourse by admitting that he is often wrong, but wrong while still remaining curious and engaged.
I think many of us listen to JRE specifically because it is a space where you can be wrong.
I get the strong impression that most of Rogan's critics haven't actually listened to his show and assume his opinions are more regressive than they actually are, because he's a muscular white guy who likes hunting and fighting. You're arguing that Rogan should not be shunned but not really addressing the specifics of what he's even being shunned for, other than just "insufficient nuance" on trans issues. Whether he should be shunned or not is actually a meta-concern--I'd argue he isn't even right of center in the first place, except relative to the Twitter hive.
I don't think there's anything wrong with going on Joe Rogan's show. I was actually moderately surprised to see you go on Ben Shapiro's show. (I'm not sure it's wrong, I was just surprised by it).
I guess for me, the difference is that the point of Ben Shapiro's show is to spew right-wing hate, but Joe Rogan is just a talk show host who happens to have other offensive views.
I’m not familiar with exactly what Joe Rogan said so I’ll avoid commenting on it specifically. I will say generally that I realized this fall that as a “woke” progressive, I’d lost the calibration of my moral compass. Anyone who challenged someone I deemed to be less privileged on anything related to their identity or privilege was The Bad Guy, full stop. It caused a mental breakdown when I realized these people had legitimate concerns and woke ideology left no route to raise them. They then resorted to yelling, screaming, and lashing out at being judged, which further justified my judgement. I’m working on it.
I agree with Matt's case that shunning is counterproductive, but I want to illustrate how this dynamic works more explicitly. It's not just some random minority of progressives who think this way. This way of thinking is the mainstream in almost all institutions where college-educated people predominate.
The idea isn't to shun wrongthinkers because they can be effectively shunned like a vanishingly small minority can be (e.g. actual Nazis). The idea is to enforce these left-wing cultural values on the entire populace via these institutions. The thinking here is inherently elitist: We, the good people at the top who have the righteous opinions, need to make sure the ignorant peons at the bottom know the correct way to think. If anyone disagree, they have to keep quiet about it or they risk shunning. If everyone keeps quiet for long enough, we win!
This dynamic makes people who disagree (both elite and non-elite) understandably very angry. To them, they are being called bigoted for no reason. This leads some people to prefer alternative institutions: in Joe Rogan's case, a podcast. People in mainstream media are threatened by this new dynamic which leads them to double down on their tactic of shunning, which, in turn, leads more people to turn toward media like Rogan's podcast.
Again, the idea of cultural change here isn't bottom-up. It's top-down. The movement for gay marriage was a little bit of both, but I think it was mostly bottom-up, which is why its legacy endures.
Not to pick on Matt too much, but this dynamic is why we're all here and not on Vox.com's comment section.
I understand that that was the throat-clearing “I am not a transphobe and don’t agree with Rogan’s comments from 2013” section of the post, but isn’t it worth noting that that linked comment was from 2013? To the extent that we’re allowed to entertain the possibility that people change their minds (as opposed to permanently shunning them for decades) Rogan has changed his approach to a lot of things, especially politics, quite drastically since then. I’d be surprised if Rogan didn’t approach the discussion of Fallon Fox with quite a bit more sensitivity if it were happening now. In fact it’s not clear to me that it’s fair to describe Rogan as a transphobe in 2020 on the basis of those comments from 2013.
Unfortunately, I think a lot of people just find it easier to shun than try to persuade. Persuasion takes actual time and effort.
Matthew appeals to progressives' self-interest. Shunning is wrong, he argues, because it will not be efficacious for progressives. He seems to be defending open dialogue and free speech only as a tactic not as a foundational concept of western liberalism and democracy.
I would be interested in a follow up post extending this to the related controversy of the NY Times’ Tom Cotton oped. Specific issues with the factual content of the piece aside, it strikes me that readers’ and Times employees’ fury over its publishing was based in the same wrongheaded “if we shun this we will defeat it” logic you discuss here. It’s not the NY Times fault that Tom Cotton is a Senator or that he has bad ideas! I don’t think progressives are served well by demanding that widely-held ideas they (reasonably) disagree with are excluded from their view, vs being made to engage with them.
For those of us who believe this illiberal tendency on the left is a major hindrance to progress on almost any issue (trans rights being just one), and debating bad ideas is better than attacking people for having them, Yascha Mounk's excellent substack Persuasion is essential reading:
<a href="https://www.persuasion.community/?sort=top">link text</a>