Opinion: Neil Young Is No Free Speech Champion


Eric Lee, Editor-In-Chief

It’s the ’60s all over again, but significantly more pathetic.

Late last month, freedom fighter and veteran folk-rock musician Neil Young, who in addition to his wildly successful solo career composed and performed with such names as CSNY, Crazy Horse, and Buffalo Springfield, suddenly demanded that all of his music be removed from popular music streaming service Spotify.

The removal will result in a 60% loss of income for Young—not that he’ll ever need to worry about where his next meal will come from.

Why on earth would someone who’s been “searching for a heart of gold” do something that would cost them their own income, while simultaneously depriving millions of listeners and fans of the unmatched beauty of their legendary discography?

Politics. Groupthink. Stupidity. Liberalism. Mass formation psychosis. Insert any other synonyms that may come to mind.

Young delivered his ultimatum in a scathing letter, which was briefly available on his website. The musician cited “fake information about vaccines” as the reason for his decision, alleging that by allowing podcaster Joe Rogan on the platform, Spotify was abetting supposedly dangerous medical information regarding COVID-19 and vaccines on their platform. He wrote: “They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”

Other musicians, including singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell, joined Young in protest against Rogan and Spotify. In addition, hundreds of doctors petitioned Spotify to remove Rogan’s content.

The outrage stems from Rogan’s interview with Dr. Robert Malone, who contributed to the development of mRNA vaccine technology earlier in his career. Last year, Spotify signed a $100 million deal with Rogan to exclusively host his popular talk show on their platform.

Without getting into the nitty-gritty of COVID-19 vaccine risks and benefits, I feel obligated to point out how utterly idiotic this whole thing is.

Joe Rogan can say whatever he wants, host whoever he feels like on his show, and there’s not a single thing that anyone should be able to do about it. 

Since Neil Young relocated from Canada to America, he’s also enjoyed these liberties. It’s certainly ironic that a so-called champion of freedom as part of the ’60s counterculture now encourages censorship. 

I love Young’s music and have been an avid listener for longer than I can remember. I’m disappointed that it will be more difficult to access his work. But I have absolutely no sympathy for his politically-motivated decision or anyone else who encourages de-platforming or restriction of speech in the modern public square. 

What are people skeptical and upset about in the first place?

Mandates. Politically motivated de-platforming, which has reached unprecedented levels in our supposedly free society. Coercion, threats, and being forced to defy one’s conscience to attend school, patronize businesses, or make a living. 

Rogan isn’t even a political figure, but he resonates with millions of listeners and American workers who have lost their jobs, their livelihoods, and been otherwise negatively impacted as a result of medical tyranny, all in the name of “science.”

Science is not an end in itself. Science is not something that ought to be worshiped.

It is a means to an end. It is a tool to understand and better our collective situation, nothing more. The restriction of speech online and the loss of individual medical freedom does not improve our collective situation, nor does it overtake an arguably lacking vaccine made to prevent a somewhat low-risk disease, especially for those under 65. The widespread violation of freedom does not justify a vaccinated, obedient population.

People have every right to question these mandates. They have every right to be upset at the loss of their freedoms. Censorship, in this case of medical information, is wrong. It’s evil. And it’s for no good reason. These vaccines don’t prevent transmission or so-called “breakthrough cases” with these new variants.

Furthermore, Young is wrong to alienate many of his loyal fans over their warranted grievances with the current societal rule.

If the technocratic, politically motivated global health regime ever quits this totalitarian nonsense, maybe we can go back to enjoying good music and engaging podcasts on the same platform.