A Lesson From Kid Rock: In the US, Free Speech Still Exists

Commentary Many prominent authors are eager to draw comparisons between the United States and China, arguing that the former is just as bad as the latter. Well, it’s not. This is called a false equivalence, with comparisons being drawn between two subjects based on deeply flawed reasoning. Comparing the United States and China is not like comparing apples and oranges; it’s like comparing apples and orangutans. It’s the equivalent of a categorical mistake. Here’s why. Unless you happen to live under a rock, you’ve probably had the pleasure/displeasure of hearing Kid Rock’s new song, “We the People.” A powerful track, laced with expletives, the rage is palpable. Each line hits like a punch to the gut. Kid Rock, a rather colorful musician, doesn’t hold back, taking aim at President Joe Biden and Dr. Anthony Fauci over vaccine mandates and Americans’ loss of freedom. Whether or not you like the track is not the point. The fact that Kid Rock can release such a song, criticizing arguably the two most powerful people in the country, demonstrates the fundamental difference between the United States and China. Across the country, free speech may very well be under attack, and cancel culture is indeed a real phenomenon; nevertheless, the rebellious can still rebel. In China, rebellious people disappear. The United States, unlike China, has a long history of honoring free speech, offering provocative artists like Kid Rock a platform to become astonishingly well-off. In 1988, N.W.A. released “Straight Outta Compton,” an era-defining album that had a few harsh words for those in power. Rolling Stone magazine gave it five stars; those in power, especially law enforcement, were less complimentary. Three years later, Rage Against the Machine, a leftist, anti-authoritarian band, burst onto the scene. The Californian rockers were only too willing to criticize those in power. In 1997, Eminem and Slim Shady, his sadistic alter-ego, released the “Slim Shady EP,” a record that shocked and offended listeners in equal measures. In the 25 years since that record, Eminem, real name Marshall Mathers, has regularly courted controversy; in fact, his lyrics even sparked hearings in Congress. What is my point? If any of the above artists uttered similar sentiments in China, directing stinging criticisms at those in power, they would have met a swift and quite possibly brutal demise. The fact that all of these American artists went on to achieve fame, wealth, and amazing success says something about the United States. For all the criticisms of the country, the United States is still a place where strong opinions can be voiced, and where those in power can still be criticized. Of course, this is not to say that the United States is without problems. It’s not. But no country is. In the United States, no one is being disappeared; no one is being shipped off to “correction camps.” This is not a cause for celebration. None of these things should be happening in any country. But, you see, they happen in China. All the time. Would Eminem survive in China? That is a question that needn’t even be answered, because we all know the answer. In China, those who stray from the approved narrative are routinely imprisoned for years, if not decades. Even people with the purest of intentions are left to rot in prison cells. The United States is not China. Genocide is not being carried out in Boston, but it is being carried out in Xinjiang. Uyghurs of the East Turkestan National Awakening Movement (ETNAM) hold a rally to protest the 71st anniversary of the People’s Republic of China in front of the White House in Washington, on Oct. 1, 2020. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images) The United States is still a country where those who disagree with those in power can become more successful than those in power. If in doubt, let me point you in the direction of Joe Rogan, a man I have discussed before. Obviously, Mr. Rogan wouldn’t survive in China. In the United States, however, he is thriving. Last year, he signed a deal worth more than $100 million with Spotify. Recently, Neil Young, the legendary rocker and vaccine advocate, gave Spotify, the home of Rogan’s podcast, an ultimatum: You can have Joe Rogan, or you can have Neil Young. But you can’t have both of us. Spotify responded: Thanks, Neil. We’ll stick with Joe. Have a nice life. Spotify sided with the rebel. This is something worth celebrating. In the United States, the rebels can still win. Which brings us back to the new song making headlines across the country. The worst Kid Rock will have to deal with is some harsh words from moral grandstanders. Ultimately, though, Kid Rock will have the final laugh. Because he may very well have just released the biggest hit of 2022. His track captures the disillusionment of so many Americans. “We the People” is a protest song, and an important one at that. Although the country is currently experiencing an identity crisis of sorts, the United States i

A Lesson From Kid Rock: In the US, Free Speech Still Exists

Commentary

Many prominent authors are eager to draw comparisons between the United States and China, arguing that the former is just as bad as the latter. Well, it’s not.

This is called a false equivalence, with comparisons being drawn between two subjects based on deeply flawed reasoning. Comparing the United States and China is not like comparing apples and oranges; it’s like comparing apples and orangutans. It’s the equivalent of a categorical mistake. Here’s why.

Unless you happen to live under a rock, you’ve probably had the pleasure/displeasure of hearing Kid Rock’s new song, “We the People.” A powerful track, laced with expletives, the rage is palpable. Each line hits like a punch to the gut. Kid Rock, a rather colorful musician, doesn’t hold back, taking aim at President Joe Biden and Dr. Anthony Fauci over vaccine mandates and Americans’ loss of freedom.

Whether or not you like the track is not the point. The fact that Kid Rock can release such a song, criticizing arguably the two most powerful people in the country, demonstrates the fundamental difference between the United States and China. Across the country, free speech may very well be under attack, and cancel culture is indeed a real phenomenon; nevertheless, the rebellious can still rebel. In China, rebellious people disappear.

The United States, unlike China, has a long history of honoring free speech, offering provocative artists like Kid Rock a platform to become astonishingly well-off. In 1988, N.W.A. released “Straight Outta Compton,” an era-defining album that had a few harsh words for those in power. Rolling Stone magazine gave it five stars; those in power, especially law enforcement, were less complimentary. Three years later, Rage Against the Machine, a leftist, anti-authoritarian band, burst onto the scene. The Californian rockers were only too willing to criticize those in power. In 1997, Eminem and Slim Shady, his sadistic alter-ego, released the “Slim Shady EP,” a record that shocked and offended listeners in equal measures. In the 25 years since that record, Eminem, real name Marshall Mathers, has regularly courted controversy; in fact, his lyrics even sparked hearings in Congress. What is my point?

If any of the above artists uttered similar sentiments in China, directing stinging criticisms at those in power, they would have met a swift and quite possibly brutal demise. The fact that all of these American artists went on to achieve fame, wealth, and amazing success says something about the United States. For all the criticisms of the country, the United States is still a place where strong opinions can be voiced, and where those in power can still be criticized.

Of course, this is not to say that the United States is without problems. It’s not. But no country is.

In the United States, no one is being disappeared; no one is being shipped off to “correction camps.” This is not a cause for celebration. None of these things should be happening in any country. But, you see, they happen in China. All the time. Would Eminem survive in China? That is a question that needn’t even be answered, because we all know the answer. In China, those who stray from the approved narrative are routinely imprisoned for years, if not decades. Even people with the purest of intentions are left to rot in prison cells.

The United States is not China. Genocide is not being carried out in Boston, but it is being carried out in Xinjiang.

Epoch Times Photo
Uyghurs of the East Turkestan National Awakening Movement (ETNAM) hold a rally to protest the 71st anniversary of the People’s Republic of China in front of the White House in Washington, on Oct. 1, 2020. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images)

The United States is still a country where those who disagree with those in power can become more successful than those in power. If in doubt, let me point you in the direction of Joe Rogan, a man I have discussed before. Obviously, Mr. Rogan wouldn’t survive in China. In the United States, however, he is thriving. Last year, he signed a deal worth more than $100 million with Spotify.

Recently, Neil Young, the legendary rocker and vaccine advocate, gave Spotify, the home of Rogan’s podcast, an ultimatum: You can have Joe Rogan, or you can have Neil Young. But you can’t have both of us. Spotify responded: Thanks, Neil. We’ll stick with Joe. Have a nice life. Spotify sided with the rebel. This is something worth celebrating. In the United States, the rebels can still win.

Which brings us back to the new song making headlines across the country. The worst Kid Rock will have to deal with is some harsh words from moral grandstanders. Ultimately, though, Kid Rock will have the final laugh. Because he may very well have just released the biggest hit of 2022. His track captures the disillusionment of so many Americans. “We the People” is a protest song, and an important one at that.

Although the country is currently experiencing an identity crisis of sorts, the United States is still a place where artists, as well as their art, can challenge the status quo. It’s still a place where free speech is honored, cherished, and very much valued. Hate him or love him, Kid Rock has a message for those in power. A powerful one. In the United States, such messages can be communicated. In China, they cannot. Let’s not forget this rather important point.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


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John Mac Ghlionn is a researcher and essayist. His work has been published, among others, by the New York Post, Sydney Morning Herald, Newsweek, National Review, and The Spectator US. He covers psychology and social relations, and has a keen interest in social dysfunction and media manipulation.