Reaping the WhirlWinslow

Twitter calls out hard-boiled novelist Don Winslow for his own use of the N-Word after Winslow wades into the Joe Rogan waters

Celebrated novelist Don Winslow ignited a Twitter storm with his response to the Joe Rogan controversy. The provocative podcaster has inspired an exodus of musicians from Spotify, following the lead of Canadian folk-rock avatar Neil Young in removing their music from the digital platform. But musicians haven’t been the only ones getting in on the controversy.

Winslow’s Tweet was in response to an online comment left by professional wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson on Rogan’s Instagram reaction video to the deplatforming effort:

Perfectly articulated

Looking forward to coming on one day and breaking out the tequila with you.

Strong words of support for Rogan from a man with 15.7 million Twitter followers. But Winslow was quick to offer strong words of caution to The Rock:

The Rock has since rethought his support of Rogan. So one might be tempted to consider the matter closed; mission accomplished. But Winslow’s tweet was only the beginning of another controversy.

On Twitter, Wokal_Distance, a known critic of the left and identity politics in particular, carefully and thoroughly fisked a handful of Don Winslow’s books, including The Border, The Force and Savages, retrieving repeated usage of the very word for which the novelist excoriates Joe Rogan.

Reaction from Twitter has come hot and heavy, with 500 tweets per hour as of this writing. A few luminaries of the “Intellectual Dark Web” have chimed in, their posts critical of Winslow and cancel culture in general.

Don Winslow has written a good many books, most of which would easily fall into the category of hard-boiled. Crooks, cops, cons and tough guys fill the pages of his collected works – hard men who walk the beat of back alleys, treacheries cities and abandoned border crossings. A cursory review of Winslow’s fiction is enough to convince readers that rough men use rough language.

We live in times when the miracle of Internet communication creates new opportunities for collective action. The arts have always been political, and more than a little catty. Campaigns to tarnish the reputation of an outsider artist have happened before. But rarely have I seen two parties–one convinced they are stopping the spread of disinformation, the other engaging in earnest discussion of underreported topics–both so determined to do the right thing. But the ‘right thing’ is growing increasingly vague in the fog of Infowar.

One thing is clear. The wrong thing to do would be to cancel Don Winslow for putting evil words in the mouths of his novels’ villains. It remains up to the individual to decide for himself whether the same courtesy should be extended to Joe Rogan.

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Jamie Mason

Jamie Mason is the author of The Book of Ashes, Certain Fury, and The North Atlantic Protocol. His most recent effort, THE BOOK OF JAMES, is a historical epic set in Viking-era Britain.

One thought on “Reaping the WhirlWinslow

  • February 9, 2022 at 6:48 am

    So when someone on the other side says it in conversations about race, freedom, and society its ok to take out of context and call them a racist. Yet if your creative opus (which is the direct window into the views and beliefs of the writer)does it on the other side it’s justifiable because it is only art and the words are not coming directly out of his mouth????? That’s like saying the song a musician writes doesn’t reflect their own personality and personal experience, its the entire point is it not?


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