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We need a free speech revolution before it's too late

For many Twitter users who claim to be liberal, the reality that a true free speech model may be enacted on Twitter brought nothing but shock and horror. This is madness.

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Libby Emmons Brooklyn NY
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Elon Musk's Twitter buy should be good news for anyone dedicated to free speech and the First Amendment of the US Constitution. The eccentric, billionaire tech entrepreneur is a free speech absolutist, meaning that he defends the right to speak freely among those he disagrees with as much as those with whom he agrees. We need free speech, it is the bedrock of our nation.

For many Twitter users who claim to be liberal, the reality that a true free speech model may be enacted on one of the most influential social media sites in the world brought nothing but shock and horror. This is madness, since the classic liberal position has been one in which free speech is a primary value, that the right of others to speak is more important the right to not be offended by speech, which is actually not a right at all.

Now, things have been reversed, the liberal ideal of free speech has been countermanded by the politics of wokeness, wherein the right of a person to not have to hear or see anything they don't like is more important than the right of others to state their beliefs or even to acknowledge facts.

We have watched this happen, and free speech liberals have either been coerced into accepting coerced speech, silenced speech, and controlled speech, or they have essentially been ejected from liberalism and become politically homeless.

We see mainstays of our press landscape calling for censorship, opposing moves toward free speech, and claiming that speech itself it dangerous if it goes against the narratives that they themselves have laid out, seemingly in concert with Democrat officials

So many of these narratives have been proven false, yet the ongoing assumption is that anything that opposes the rote narrative is misinformation, or disinformation and must be stopped. Even as the narratives keep falling apart, as with Covid, RussiaCollusion, and education, among others, keep falling apart, the censors and suppressors keep coming for free speech.

Elon Musk is buying what should be the free-est, speechiest social media platform in the world and ideally he will make it be that again. Corporate media is terrified of this because they won't be able to simply state their fictions and silence anyone who speaks the truth.

And those who were raised with the idea that being offensive is the worst sin, punishable by silencing, are also losing their minds over Musk's Twitter buy. They are so afraid of opposing ideas that they are gnashing teeth, wringing hands, and breathlessly fainting off the platform simply so their precious eyes don't have to be shocked by ideas that don't match their own.

There has been this progressive idea that "Equal rights for others does not mean less rights for you. It's not pie." But somehow in the case of free speech rights on social media, mainstream media outlets are freaking out that they will be getting less pie.

The Washington Post fears the worst, and they are looking for evidence to back up their hand-wringing concerns. In an article by Elizabeth Dwoskin, they claim that after a purchase deal was reached between Musk and the Twitter board, the Tesla and Space X CEO "boost[ed] criticism of Twitter executives, prompting online attacks."

In one instance, after a Twitter executive broke down in tears during a staff meeting after the buyout was made public, podcaster and pundit Saagar Enjeti noted that this executive, Vijaya Gadde, was party to censorship of the New York Post's Hunter Biden laptop story, and had "famously gaslit the world" about Joe Rogan.

In response to that, Elon Musk stated that "suspending the Twitter account of a major news organization for publishing a truthful story was obviously incredibly inappropriate." Dwoskin thinks that's some kind of biased critique, but even former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey admitted that the censorship was a mistake.

The truth is not an attack.

Dwoskin noted that Twitter employees are afraid of Musk and of the power he wields on the platform. Much of this is entirely speculative, as the deal is not yet finalized and Musk has not made his intentions known other than his plans to take the company private, and to uphold the value of free speech above all else.

If Twitter employees are afraid of their new boss, they are equally as afraid of the American people, many of whom hope that Musk's buyout signals an end to arbitrary bannings and suspensions that are based in partisan bias and a seeming desire to uphold a progressive narrative.

Dwoskin also noted that Musk had replied to regular Twitter user Michael Cernovich, who has a wide following on the platform. Cernovich had called out Twitter lawyer Jim Baker, and brought that to Musk's attention. Musk replied that it "sounds pretty bad," and the two went back and forth for a bit.

For some reason, Dwoskin views information and dialogue as a dangerous critique. This despite the fact that Twitter was, until Musk's takeover, a public company, allegedly accountable to shareholders, and somewhat transparent in its practices.

Enjeti said that he was reached for comment by Dwoskin an hour before she went to press, at 2 am. The article stated that Enjeti did not respond to a request for comment, despite the lack of time given for him to do so.

In Enjeti's view, the media, in this case the Washington Post and Dwoskin, are making "smears" out of nothing, which just shows that "they substantively agree with censorship."

Cernovich shared the response he sent to Dwoskin, saying that he's just a "random dad."

The New Yorker claimed that elevating free speech as a top priority on Twitter would make the platform an "unfettered disinformation machine."

Writing for The New Yorker, John Cassidy said that Musk's idea of elevating free speech, making the algorithm open source, and "authenticating all humans" to get rid of spam bots "aren't necessarily bad ideas," but that "none of Musk's suggestions addressed the fundamental issue of which approach Twitter will now take toward content moderation."

Cassidy worries that Twitter will be a "free-for-all," and that "sometimes it seems as if Musk's notion of free speech amounts to attacking and lampooning anybody who challenges him..."

Like Dwoskin, Cassidy is worried that free speech for others will mean less free speech for others, or a limiting of the reach of speech they agree with in light of the proliferation of an increase in speech they disagree with.

Twitter employees and executives have been concerned, along with pundits like Joy Reid on MSNBC, actors like Jamila al Jamil, and others. But for each of their complaints, there has only been one message from Musk: that he believes fully in free speech and wants to make sure Twitter is a platform that holds that up as an ultimate value.

All of this comes as the Biden administration, purveyors of falsehoods and misinformation about Covid, the Biden family, and Russian influence in American politics, has launched a Disinformation and Governance Board.

Free speech is what makes democracy possible, it is the foundation of all other freedoms, and it is integral to American life. There can be no discourse, no dialogue, no formation of ideas when people are afraid to speak or suppressed or censored. The American press should know this, and perhaps, in this new era of Musk's ownership of Twitter, they will relearn the lesson they have so willingly lost.

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