Opinion: Musk can bring real free speech to Twitter


Topic: Should Elon Musk be able to buy Twitter?

From the Right

by Don Schmitz

Leftists’ outrage over Elon Musk buying Twitter is as revealing as it is amusing. They are concerned over a billionaire holding that much power over a potent means of communication and news.

Notice that they didn’t complain when the uber-rich owned and ran Twitter previously. We don’t see leftists criticizing Mark Zuckerberg, with a net worth of $142 billion in 2021 and the third richest person in the world, controlling the powerful social media platform of Facebook (FB). Jeff Bezos, worth $177 billion, bought the Washington Post in 2013, and it was heralded as a new day for the flagging 140-year-old newspaper. 

It is tempting to conclude that the left is okay with rich people owning major news outlets and social media, just so long as they are their rich people, promoting their views. There is a strong component of that: The leftist leanings of Zuckerberg, for example, can’t be denied, but the truth is more complicated, although it comes back full circle to political predispositions.

The nub of the matter is what information will be available to the American people. We’d like to believe that folks on the left and right would coexist happy if they were ensured that news and social media with their algorithms were unbiased, but sadly that isn’t true. 

Musk said, “For Twitter to deserve public trust, it must be politically neutral, which effectively means upsetting the far right and the far left equally.”  

Who could argue with that? Plenty of folks on the left, apparently. 

The NAACP stated, “Mr. Musk: free speech is wonderful, hate speech is unacceptable. Disinformation, misinformation and hate speech have NO PLACE on Twitter”. 

That’s telling. Now ask anyone, left or right, if they support hateful rhetoric, and decent folks say no. It’s the definitions that are tricky, and conservatives note that the definitions are one-sided. It’s okay to label “homophobic” Christians supportive of traditional marriage. If you oppose Sharia Law, the council on American-Islamic Relations calls that “Islamophobia.” If you’re not calling a bearded man wearing a skirt a woman you’re “transphobic” and engaging in “sexual violence.” And my favorite, cutting taxes is racist and commensurate with using the N-word (see reaction to Lee Atwater’s 1981 interview with Alexander Lamis).

I have been asked why I differentiate between my liberal friends and leftists, and this topic is a prime example. Freedom of speech was a hallmark of classic American liberalism, but this wild swing towards speech and thought control is the hallmark of leftist tyranny. It is the Orwellian dystopia of “thoughtcrimes” from the novel “1984.” 

The trend is disconcerting. Radical leftists have perfected and institutionalized what the courts call the “heckler’s veto.” College students fear lower grades or expulsion for expressing conservative views. Parents protesting their elementary students being taught transgender studies are labeled domestic terrorists. Asking someone where they are from is a racist micro-aggression. You can be fired and ostracized, so Americans find themselves walking on eggshells.

Controlling free speech is, sadly, an effective political tool, and always has been, and that is why the founders made freedom of speech the very first amendment to our Constitution. It is essential to liberty.

Vladimir Putin has a Twitter account, as does Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei, who calls for the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews. Twitter banned Trump stating he was inciting violence, but in stark contrast the Twitter CEO testified to Congress that Khamenei wasn’t banned because his calls for Jihad were “saber rattling” that didn’t violate their terms of service. Infamously, Twitter banned the New York Post for breaking the Hunter Biden laptop story in 2020, with leftist outlets labeling it Russian disinformation. The story, and the laptops, subsequently were verified as true. Social media and the press actively suppressed the story to sway the election. 

Social media is sophisticated. Powerful algorithms use “persuasive technology” to control the flow of information. Conservative views on FB, Twitter and YouTube appear stifled, deleted, or come with a disclaimer. It works, and that is why the left is melting down over the concept that Twitter will become an open forum with free exchange of ideas without censorship. They even tried to get the FCC to block the sale stating it would threaten free speech, which FCC chair Brendan Carr called “absurd.”

Conservatives don’t want Twitter, FB, or the press to flip right wing (which is humorous to even say), they only want a level playing field. The consternation of leftists agonizing over the possibility that they may not be able to control the free flow of information and ideas speaks volumes. They don’t believe their ideas will stand scrutiny, nor that Americans can make up their own minds about what is true. Maybe we will now get to find out.