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Elon Musk bought Twitter yesterday with the promise to restore free speech to America and a lot of people were thrilled by that news. To them, it felt like liberation.
Finally, they can say what they think out loud. They can participate in the life of their own country. They can be full citizens again. That’s how they felt. But at the same time, a lot of other far more powerful people were not thrilled by this news. They were highly upset that Twitter will be lifting its speech restrictions.
The ACLU warned that this was just way too much free speech and the NAACP strongly agreed with that. The Washington Post concurred, of course, but it took a different angle. It is terrifying, explained Jeff Bezos’ personal newspaper, when billionaires start buying media outlets. MSNBC and CNN did not laugh at that claim. They amplified it and added some. It turns out that Elon Musk is a hardcore White supremacist. Who knew?
Technically Elon Musk is an African American, but 2022 has been like that. You’re always being surprised. So how do you make sense of all of this watching from home? Here you have one news story, but two diametrically opposed interpretations of the same story. So how do you determine who’s right? Who are the good guys and who are the villains?
We’ve been brooding about this all day and we have devised a simple test to answer that question. We’re about to show you two images, both of them are famous. You’ve seen both of them before many times. They’re both from the 1980s. Here’s the first. Now get a pen and paper and record your reaction to it and remember, there are no right or wrong answers. Watch.
SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk arrives on the red carpet for the Axel Springer Award 2020 on December 01, 2020 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Britta Pedersen-Pool/Getty Images)
VIDEO VOICEOVER: Overnight, the wall went up and overnight, family members were cut off from each other, a city and a country divided. There was a scramble to get out. People jumping from buildings even as their windows were being bricked up. Over the years, there were numerous escape attempts via the checkpoints, through tunnels, even in hot air balloons. Three decades later, communism began to crumble across the Soviet Union, but cracks appeared and eventually the wall came tumbling down.
So those last pictures, as you know, were from Berlin in the fall of 1989. Ask yourself, what did you see? Did you witness the triumph of the irrepressible human spirit over forces of totalitarian control? Or did you find yourself annoyed by the senseless vandalism of government infrastructure? Who did you sympathize with as you watched that video? Was it the protesters breaking down that hated wall? Or did you find yourself feeling for the prison guards in the background who are going to have a lot more trouble keeping track of people once the sensible barrier is removed? Be honest. Write down your answers.
Now we’re on to the second image. This one is from Beijing, China, same year, a few months earlier. So, what do you see here? There’s a man standing alone in front of a tank. Is that man a hero risking his life for human rights? Or is he a hooligan impeding the progress of a government vehicle? Who do you sympathize with? The man or the tank? These may seem like easy questions, but that’s only because those images are more than 30 years old. Everyone today supports the fall of the Berlin Wall and the freedom fighters in Tiananmen Square. But back in 1989, it was a mixed bag.
Actually, a lot of highly respected people thought the Berlin Wall should stay up. That would include Margaret Thatcher and the president of France and a lot of others. Now, that may sound shocking to you, but really it’s not so different from what we’re witnessing now. Now, today, we’re witnessing a lot of well-respected people who are arguing with a straight face that Twitter, one of our main avenues for solving political differences, should remain censored. They’re telling you, again with a straight face, that you can’t have a democracy where everyone is allowed to participate in the conversation. No, in order to represent the public, the public must be forced to shut up. That’s what they’re saying.
So, whose side are you on – the man or the tank? Keep in mind that if you chose the tank, you were by definition a Stalinist. We’re not judging, but we thought you should know that. The good news is you’ve got a lot of company. Here’s MSNBC:
ANAND GIRIDHARADAS: There are studies that have been shown that this power can be used to tilt elections if someone were to want to use it that way. It’s not enough to just rig law and policy. You want to rig the discourse. You want to make sure you control the terms.
ARI MELBER: If you own all of Twitter or Facebook or what have you, you don’t have to explain yourself. You don’t even have to be transparent. You could secretly ban one party’s candidate or all of its candidates, all of its nominees. Or you could just secretly turn down the reach of their stuff and turn up the reach of something else and the rest of us might not even find out about it till after the election.
Oh, see if a billionaire controlled Twitter you could rig the discourse. That’s a fair point. See, the thing about owning a social media company is you could, “secretly ban one party’s candidate.” Or even scarier than that, you could “secretly turn down the reach of their stuff or turn up the reach of something else and the rest of us might not find out about it until after the election.” Yeah. That’s a terrifying prospect. Democracy could not withstand that. Let’s hope it never happens.
What is it about cable television that completely eliminates people’s self-awareness? Maybe NIH should do a study on that. It seems like a legitimate health crisis.
We’re being slightly unfair in that analysis. We do not mean certainly to suggest that it’s only Democrats who favor censorship for political ends. Republican leaders support it, too. In a phone call reported today by The New York Times, for example, Congressman Kevin McCarthy of California told his close friend Liz Cheney that he hoped the social media companies would censor more conservative Republicans in Congress.
Donald Trump, the sitting president, had already been silenced by those companies, but McCarthy wanted the tech oligarchs to do more to force disobedient lawmakers off the internet: “Can’t they take their Twitter accounts away too?”
Those are the tape recorded words of Congressman Kevin McCarthy, a man who in private, turns out, sounds like an MSNBC contributor. And yet, unless conservatives get their act together right away, Kevin McCarthy, or one of his highly liberal allies like Elise Stefanik, is very likely to be Speaker of the House in January.
That would mean we will have a Republican Congress led by a puppet of the Democratic Party. So, you wouldn’t know any of this unless it was leaked, and you can start to see why the people in charge oppose transparency and fervently support censorship on both sides. Why? Because the more you know about them, the less satisfied you’re likely to become with their leadership. Here’s the eunuch general of CNN’s Praetorian Guard warning the peasants cannot have too much liberty.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN “RELIABLE SOURCES” HOST: If you get invited to something where there are no rules, where there is total freedom for everybody, do you actually want to go to that party or are you going decide to stay home?
Oh, you’re going to stay home. Actually, if you let people choose, you never know what they’re going to do.
For example, CNN just spent more than a quarter of $1,000,000,000 on a streaming service that in the end attracted 10,000 viewers. Right. Because people had a choice and that’s not what they chose. So if you’re a part of a company that made a decision like that, you’d be very much in favor of squelching the competition with censorship because if you didn’t have a monopoly, you would wither and die.
People would start asking questions like, why is equity so important again? Why do we care what TV personalities look like? Shouldn’t we care about what they do? What they believe? About their characters?
Over on “The View,” host Sunny Hostin is desperately hoping you will never be allowed to ask that question.
Elon Musk, founder and chief engineer of SpaceX speaks at the 2020 Satellite Conference and Exhibition March 9, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
SUNNY HOSTIN: On Twitter, it is predominantly straight, White men so when Elon Musk says, “Wow, this is about free speech,” it seems to me that it’s about free speech of straight, White men.
GIRIDHARADAS: Elon Musk lives in a world in which the only kind of free speech is White men feeling free to say whatever the hell they want.
Oh, now we can rebut those points and these people are obviously racists, and nobody says anything about it for some reason, but that’s not really the big point. The big point—and we’re going to restate it because it’s the whole point is this: Anyone who was angered by the prospect of American citizens expressing their opinions is a Stalinist and should be feared. We no longer need to guess who those people are. They have conveniently self-identified. It’s a clarifying moment, but it’s also a little scary because at this point there is no going back.
Once the kidnaper shows you his face, he can’t release you. God knows what happens next.
The Biden administration has jumped off four paws into this, signaling it’s going to use the weight of the federal government to crush Elon Musk because he wants you to speak freely. The day that Musk announced his intention to buy Twitter, the feds opened a probe into Tesla that would be his electric car company and the source of the wealth that made it possible for him to buy Twitter. At the same time, the Biden administration’s allies in the media are uniting to defame Elon Musk and destroy him as a man because that’s what they do. “He’s a racist.” They’re about to do that to us again.
The New York Times editorial board just published a stirring defense of censorship in a newspaper. On Twitter, the Times complained Musk will be free to, “body-shame people.” He can also, “poo-poo sound health regulations and shout down critics” and that can’t be allowed.
Thou shall not body-shame Tony Fauci. Tony Fauci is a very tall man. By the way, the vaccines work flawlessly. Not very subtle. CNBC was even less subtle, by the way, in its character assassinations. That channel granted anonymity to a source identified as “close to some of the Democratic Party’s biggest Silicon Valley mega-donors.”
What did this source come over to CNBC to say? “Musk is a great engineer and businessman, but I would not trust him with my daughter.” Oh, she was a rapist now? Got it. Okay. No evidence whatsoever, but you should be afraid for your daughters because Elon Musk wants free speech. And NBC Nightly News, in between prostate health segments, strongly agrees with that. Watch them tell you that free speech endangers women way more than abortion clinics, TikTok and Teen Vogue. Watch.
NBC VIDEO: And some critics are concerned that Musk’s pursuit of free speech will collide with growing safety problems on Twitter, especially for women and minorities.
NBC VIDEO: Do you trust Elon Musk to make Twitter better for women?
NBC VIDEO: No, I don’t trust Elon Musk to make Twitter better for women at all.
“Oh it’s bad for women.” It’s pretty funny. Oh, the rich, entitled ladies won’t have a voice. Okay, but of course he will. Everyone will have a voice and that’s what they’re mad about. What they don’t want is the coming of diversity, the one thing they say they love. There’s no diversity at Twitter. As it stands, 99% of recent political donations from Twitter employees have gone to Democrats 99%—98.7, to be precise.
How much is that? Well, for perspective Kim Jong Un got a much smaller level of support from workers at the central Pyongyang steel plant recently.
So, 99% of anything is a bad sign. It’s a terrifying level of conformity. It suggests brain death. But brain death is what they’re demanding, and that tells you everything. As Elon Musk himself wrote today, “The extreme antibody reaction from those who fear free speech says it all.” And it certainly does.