Brazil’s Joe Rogan Faces His Own Firestorm Over Free Speech

Brazil’s Joe Rogan Faces His Own Firestorm Over Free Speech

Mr. Aiub regularly argued that people should be able to express any opinion, no matter how abhorrent. That view drew criticism last year when he suggested that having racist opinions should not be a crime. (In Brazil, racist comments and actions are crimes.) The backlash led a food delivery app to drop its sponsorship.

Then his comments last Monday set off a much larger controversy. “The radical left has much more space than the radical right, in my view. Both must be given space,” he said during the conversation with two lawmakers. “I think a Nazi has to have a Nazi party recognized by law,” he added. “If a guy wants to be an anti-Jew, I think he has a right to be.”

André Lajst, a political scientist and executive director of StandWithUs Brasil, a pro-Israel group, said the comments were dangerous because of the history of Jewish persecution and the size of Mr. Aiub’s megaphone. “It was a statement aimed at a persecuted group. There are thousands and thousands of people listening,” he said.

“And if you put the public’s safety at risk,” he added, “this is going to generate a reaction.”

In the hours after the controversy exploded, Mr. Aiub posted an apology video that blamed his comments on how drunk he had been. The show’s bartender gave him “a really crazy drink,” he said. “I don’t even know what it was, to be honest, but it worked.”

In an interview two days later, he was more contrite.

“The point that I was going to make that day was about the First Amendment in the United States. But I defended it in a really bad way, in a stupid way,” he said. “I want to assure you that I am totally against any kind of prejudice.”

His next plan? Start a new podcast. And, if he can dream, get a cameo on Mr. Rogan’s show. “It would be a tremendous honor to talk to him,” he said. “I need a little international help.”

Leonardo Coelho contributed reporting.


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