Flashback: Neil Young participated in 'Freedom of Speech Tour' before advocating censorship of Joe Rogan

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Musician Neil Young appears to have had a change of heart when it comes to the right of Americans to say how they feel about a particular political issue, even if others don’t agree with them. 

The liberal singer threw himself into the headlines last week following a decision to remove his content from Spotify in protest over Joe Rogan’s podcast, complaining the latter was spreading misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic to his millions of listeners, and he no longer wanted to share a platform with him.

However, Young’s history of speaking out on political issues runs in contrast to his current position on Rogan, considering he participated in a 2006 “Freedom of Speech tour” that traveled the country protesting the then-involvement of U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, often to disagreeable crowds. 

Musician Neil Young speaks during a session at the International CES Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015, in Las Vegas.
(AP Photo/John Locher)

“I was a nervous wreck by the end of that tour. I never want to do another tour like that in my life. I mean, that was so different from every other tour I’ve done,” Young told Rolling Stone in a 2008 interview. “Just getting up in front of a lot of people makes you nervous. But when you know that some of them are really going to be angry at you, and you’re in a crowd, and it’s a volatile situation, people have been drinking, whatever — you know, it makes you nervous.”

“It was just that critical time in history where things were turning. Things were changing,” he added. “Those who feel the way we do had some hope and those who don’t feel the way we do were angry that the change happened. And those people have got a voice, and they have a reason for feeling the way they do. They strongly believe in the convictions. They believe in the military.” 

“They believe that we’re doing the right thing for the world, and they have every reason to be respected for their beliefs,” he said. 

Comedian Joe Rogan
(Photo by: Vivian Zink/Syfy/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images)

Young’s then-position on respecting the beliefs of others heavily contrasted his approach to Rogan as he demanded the streaming giant choose between the two. 

“They can have [Joe] Rogan or Young,” he reportedly posted in a letter to his management team. “Not both.”

He also wrote that Spotify has a “responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform, though the company presently has no misinformation policy.”

A "Freedom of Speech Tour" poster from 2006
(Freedom of Speech Tour)

Other artists followed Young’s lead by pulling their music from Spotify; however the company opted to keep Rogan’s content and instead implemented a “content advisory” label to combat the spread of misinformation. 

Rogan also issued an apology and promised to expand the viewpoints he brought onto his show. 

Fox Business’ Edmund DeMarche contributed to this report.

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