The presidents of Brazil and El Salvador have defended the right to free speech as the White House calls for more censorship
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and El Salvador President Nayib Bukele both came out in defense of American podcast host Joe Rogan this week after critics, including the White House, encouraged Spotify to censor his show.
The campaign – which has attempted to get Rogan’s Spotify show censored after he expressed skepticism over Covid-19 vaccines for young people and hosted several vaccine-skeptic doctors – was bolstered on Tuesday after White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said there was “more that can be done” by Spotify to crack down on speech which goes against the national Covid-19 line.
Psaki’s comments were condemned by free speech activists in the US, who claimed they were unconstitutional and amounted to the state pressuring a private company to censor dissidents.
The two world leaders also came out in defense of Rogan’s right to free speech. In a statement, Bolsonaro said, “I’m not sure what [Rogan] thinks about me or about my government, but it doesn’t matter.”
If freedom of speech means anything, it means that people should be free to say what they think, no matter if they agree or disagree with us. Stand your ground! Hugs from Brazil.
Bukele – who has been accused of threatening freedom of the press in his county by criticizing ‘fake news’ journalists – used Psaki’s comments to mock critics who claim free speech “is under attack in El Salvador,” and appeared to argue that the White House’s interference in the Rogan matter amounted to a more egregious attack on free speech than anything his administration is accused of doing.
– I'm not sure what @joerogan thinks about me or about my government, but it doesn't matter. If freedom of speech means anything, it means that people should be free to say what they think, no matter if they agree or disagree with us. Stand your ground! Hugs from Brazil. 👍
— Jair M. Bolsonaro (@jairbolsonaro) February 3, 2022
Following calls for Rogan to be censored, Spotify announced it would start adding a ‘content advisory’ to shows that discuss the Covid-19 pandemic. The advisories will direct listeners to allegedly ‘trusted sources’ on the coronavirus, including scientists and academics.
60s folk-rock stars Neil Young and Joni Mitchell asked Spotify to remove their music in protest of Rogan’s show, while Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have also demanded that the platform make changes to address “COVID-19 misinformation.”
Rogan has defended his decision to host guests who criticize the worldwide Covid-19 response.
“These people are very highly credentialed, very intelligent, very accomplished people, and they have an opinion that’s different from the mainstream narrative. I wanted to hear what their opinion is. I had them on,” he explained in a video, which received over 1.2 million likes, claiming that he is “just a person who sits down and talks to people.”