Joe Rogan Removes Episodes with Racial Slurs as Spotify CEO Says 'Silencing' Him Isn't the Answer

Spotify CEO condemned Joe Rogan's past use of the N-word on his podcast, but says "canceling voices is a slippery slope"

Joe Rogan Apologizes for Using N-Word in Past Podcasts
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Spotify CEO Daniel Ek is condemning Joe Rogan's past use of racial slurs on his podcast, but says the company won't be "silencing" him.

Rogan, 54, has been under fire after singer India Arie shared clips of him repeatedly using the N-word throughout many episodes of his popular podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience. Following a public apology from Rogan, dozens of episodes of the show were removed from the streaming platform.

On Sunday, Ek shared a memo, obtained by The Verge, telling Spotify staff members that Rogan's actions are "incredibly hurtful" and "do not represent the values of this company." However, he reportedly said that although he condemns the racially insensitive comments, he doesn't believe "silencing Joe is the answer."

According to CNN, Spotify made a $100 million deal in 2020 to exclusively carry Rogan's podcast on the platform.

"We should have clear lines around content and take action when they are crossed, but canceling voices is a slippery slope," Ek said, per the outlet. "Looking at the issue more broadly, it's critical thinking and open debate that powers real and necessary progress."

Additionally, Ek told staff that it was Rogan's personal decision "to remove a number of episodes from Spotify" following "his own reflections," per The Verge.

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Joe Rogan
The Joe Rogan Experience/Youtube

Apologizing for his use of racial slurs in a video shared on Instagram Saturday, Rogan called the past clips "the most regretful and shameful thing I've ever had to talk about publicly." He said the videos that Arie, 46, shared were made up of "out of context" moments from "12 years of conversations" on his podcast.

"It looks f—— horrible. Even to me," he said. "I know that to most people, there is no context where a white person is ever allowed to say that word, never mind publicly on a podcast. And I agree with that now, I haven't said it in years."

Acknowledging that he did indeed say the word in years past, Rogan explained that he only used it when it "came up in conversation," pointing to past instances such as chatting about comedians' use of the word, or how Quentin Tarantino used the N-word "repeatedly" in Pulp Fiction.

"Instead of saying 'the N-word,' I would just say the word. I thought as long as it was in context, people would understand what I was doing," he tried to explain. Continuing his remarks, Rogan noted that the N-word is a "very unusual word," admitting, however, "it's not my word to use."

"I never used it to be racist, because I'm not racist. But whenever you're in a situation where you have to say, 'I'm not racist,' you've f—— up, and I clearly have f—— up," he added. "There's nothing I can do to take that back. I wish I could, obviously, that's not possible."

Rogan — who has also been criticized for his controversial ties to COVID-19 misinformation — then said that he hopes his mistakes can be a "teachable moment" for others. "I never thought it would ever be taken out of context and put in a video like that," he said.

"And now that it is, holy s— it looks bad," Rogan continued, before noting that he has said "a lot of f—— stupid s—" over the duration of his podcast that was fine, "but not when you're talking about race."

Rogan also addressed another clip in his video, which he claimed was from "11 years ago" and shows him referring to a Black neighborhood as "Planet of the Apes."

Explaining that he "got really high" with a group of friends, Rogan said they were in Philadelphia when they "got dropped off by a cab" and he was "trying to make the story entertaining" by referring to the neighborhood as such.

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"I did not — nor would I ever — say that Black people are apes, but it sure f—— sounded like that," Rogan said. "And I immediately afterward said, 'That's a racist thing to say' ... I was just saying there's a lot of Black people there."

"But then I went on to talk about what a positive experience it was, and how much fun it was, to go to see this movie in a Black neighborhood. It wasn't a racist story, but it sounded terrible," Rogan continued.

Concluding his post, Rogan said, "I can't go back in time and change what I've said. I wish I could." Offering his "sincere and humble apologies," Rogan noted he "wished there was more I could say, but all of this is just me talking from the bottom of my heart."

"It makes me sick watching that video, but hopefully, at least some of you will accept this and understand where I'm coming from," he added.

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