Matt Fitzgerald, Columnist

You may remember Joe Rogan from when he hosted popular television shows like Fear Factor and The Man Show. These days, he conducts interviews and does commentary for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, a rapidly growing mixed martial arts promotional company that is the largest of its kind in the world.

While Rogan has enjoyed mainstream success and has attained celebrity status, he has not been afraid to speak his mind about, well, anything.

This column may barely address sports, but as Peter Sellers says in Stanley Kubrick’s classic dark comedy, Dr. Strangelove, “That is precisely the idea, General. That is precisely the idea.”

It is refreshing to hear a sportscaster, or even a public figure in general, wholeheartedly give his or her perspective on a major issue, even if that perspective is an unpopular one.

Rogan has a website where he hosts a podcast entitled, “The Joe Rogan Experience,” and he addresses topics that many people in his position of influence and status in society simply would not have the courage to address.

Some views Rogan strongly advocates include the legalization of marijuana as well as the encouragement of psychedelic drugs to expand the mind and experience alternate states of consciousness.

Some people may think all of these are outrageous, and may dismiss him for being ridiculous and too profane, but the fact that he is bold enough to come out and say these things with such conviction and lots of facts to back up what he is saying is simply admirable.

To be clear, I am not saying I agree or disagree with any specific thing Rogan has to say, but at the very least, he is a far more important figure in the sports world than he gets credit for. Ironically, it’s all due to other engagements he has away from the UFC.

Rogan calls himself a quintessential delegator of information and does not claim any credit for it. He is more of a facilitator, attempting to encourage people to think outside of the figurative box. Rogan has turned me personally on to the ideas of Graham Hancock, as well as some incredibly interesting evidence for ancient civilizations. Not to be politically incorrect, but it is mind-blowing stuff.

I attended Anne Applebaum’s lecture here about the Gulag in Russia. Applebaum stated the current regime in Russia, led by Vladimir Putin, declared that discussion of the past is a sign of national weakness.

That statement seems ridiculous to me, especially in the context of the oppressive Gulag labor camps. It can never hurt to discuss the past for any country, which is evident by many Russian citizens knowing little of these camps.

Rogan asserts that we are all connected in some strange way that we cannot fully understand. One way we are strangely connected is that if we see someone prominent, especially an athlete or someone in the sports industry, come out and say something controversial about world affairs, it is considered outrageous or taboo. There is a strange silence among people in that area of the American workforce, which perhaps is contractually demanded, part of controlling their public image, holding the trust of their sponsors or perhaps it’s because they dislike dealing with the media.

Whatever the reason, I think that mindset needs to change. Joe Rogan is trying to do just that. Others in similar positions in the public eye should use their right to civic debate to foster democracy, increase widespread political awareness and maybe all of us, as one human race, can more adequately communicate with each other and progress towards a better future.