Joe Rogan’s recent offhand remark to podcast guest Tom Segura that “Maybe you should just go shoot the homeless people” in Los Angeles has left several of the city’s unhoused advocates stunned and disheartened.
In the July 14 episode of “The Joe Rogan Experience,” the host’s discussion with comedian Segura moved to the topic of homelessness in Los Angeles. The cigar-smoking duo discussed some dark ideas about LA’s unhoused population, seemingly comparing the response to LA’s crime issues to the homelessness crisis. Segura and Rogan’s comments are transcribed below.
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Tom Segura: When you see stuff like that on the streets, at least in Los Angeles or California, that’s protected property. Like by law. That’s that’s person’s property by law.
Joe Rogan: Oh, a homeless person’s property is protected?
Segura: Absolutely. If you were to try to move that or take that—
Rogan: You’d get arrested. Hilarious. But they wouldn’t arrest you if you shot somebody. Maybe you should just go shoot the homeless people.
Segura: I like your ideas.
Rogan: And if nobody claims it. I mean nobody does anything about violent crime in LA anymore.
Beyond the criticism that the comments were met with on social media, Variety shared the conversation with Los Angeles community leaders who work with unhoused populations. Representatives were shocked by the discussion.
Theo Henderson, an unhoused advocate who created the podcast “We the Unhoused,” said the comments could absolutely cause violence directed at people without homes.
“It’s repulsive,” Henderson said. “It’s infuriating because it’s not only out of touch, but the reality is that unhoused people are targeted by housed people. To advocate trying to shoot at unhoused people or just giving these dog whistles to people that do not see unhoused people as human beings — I can’t believe you’d advocate for it.”
Henderson added that there are two central issues that could actually help the unhoused population that Rogan could discuss on his show.
“Two good things that are basically universal [for the unhoused population] that would be a great help are bathroom access and shower depots, where unhoused people would be able to take care of themselves without being considered pariahs,” Henderson said.
Henderson went on to highlight the range of situations for homeless populations, recalling relationships he’s established with elderly individuals and families with small children that have lived without houses.
“It’s a very abysmal response to a varied situation that we all should be really concerned and working aggressively to put people in housing right now,” Henderson said.
Andy Bales, who serves as president and CEO of the downtown LA homeless shelter Union Rescue Mission, expressed similar disappointment in Rogan’s comments. A quarter of the Union Rescue Mission’s staff is composed of former guests of the shelter.
“I’m surprised and saddened,” Bales said. “The comments about beginning to kill homeless people hits too close to reality for any comfort, because murders of homeless people in Los Angeles went up 47% last year over the previous year… . There is a bit of an unfortunate vigilantism already in Los Angeles towards people devastated by homelessness and they don’t need any encouragement.”
Bales went on to extend an invitation to Rogan so that he could better understand the conditions that thousands of Los Angeles residents live in.
“Usually when I get in a case like this, with somebody with a lot of influence and responsibility, I invite them to come see what’s happening on the street and get to know the people that they’re talking about,” Bales said. “I would invite Joe to come to Union Rescue Mission to see, not only our work, but see what’s happening on the streets and who these people are who he’s talking about.”
It’s the latest in a series of controversies for Rogan. Earlier this year, doctors, nurses and scientists urged Spotify to “implement a misinformation policy” regarding COVID-19, citing “The Joe Rogan Experience” and its “concerning history of broadcasting misinformation” regarding vaccinations and alternative treatments. The situation ultimately led to musicians like Neil Young and Joni Mitchell removing their music from the streamer in protest of its partnership with Rogan.
Spotify is the exclusive streamer of Rogan’s show, which leads as the company’s most-listened podcast. Spotify inked a multiyear deal with Rogan in 2020, reportedly worth more than $100 million, for exclusive rights to distribute “The Joe Rogan Experience.”
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