Senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, awkwardly reworked the lyrics of a Neil Young song to defend comedian Joe Rogan, whose podcast has drawn the ire of many critics for pushing various COVID-19-related conspiracy theories.
Paul parodied Young’s song “My My, Hey Hey” to mock him after he threatened to cancel all of his music availability on Spotify, saying the company is "spreading false information about vaccines" because it distributes Rogan's podcast.
Writing on Twitter, Paul claimed to be taking a stand for free speech when he took the song, which opens with, "My my, hey hey/Rock and roll is here to stay/It's better to burn out than to fade away/My my, hey hey" and replaced them with:
"Bye Bye, Hey Hey"
"Neil Young is gone today"
"It's better to boycott"
"Than to just obey"
"Bye Bye, Hey Hey"
Paul is wrong to suggest that removing Rogan from Spotify—which the company ultimately did not do—would constitute a violation of free speech, which is covered by the First Amendment.
The First Amendment applies only to governmental action and does not apply to behavior by private employers, private companies, or private, non-government individuals unless they worked in concert with the government.
Paul was swiftly criticized for his cringey tweet.
Paul's tweet came after Young, in a since-deleted open letter, accused Spotify of "potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them" and said he could not in good conscience have his music distributed by a company that has played a role in spreading vaccine misinformation.
Young's demands come as public health experts urge Spotify to block Rogan, whose podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, is the most-listened to podcast on the audio-streaming service.
A group of more than 260 doctors and health professionals called on Spotify to "implement a misinformation policy," saying Rogan, who has repeatedly railed against COVID-19 vaccines, "has repeatedly spread misleading and false claims on his podcast, provoking distrust in science and medicine."
Young was praised for speaking out. Spotify said it would respect his wishes of removal, though it chose to keep Rogan's podcast on the service.