Free speech proponents should cheer Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover

ben weingarten
Conservative Opinion

Ben Weingarten

Federalist Senior Contributor; Claremont Institute Fellow
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Elon Musk’s $44 billion purchase of Twitter has been trending from the moment the world’s richest man initially made the offer. Musk has discussed several ways in which he hopes to change the social media company, even as the White House discusses overhauling Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and the ACLU raises concerns about what a Musk-owned Twitter will mean for free speech.

Straight Arrow News contributor Ben Weingarten believes free speech proponents should be in full support of Musk running Twitter.

If you believe in free and open discourse in America, then you should be cheering on Elon Musk’s effort to buy Twitter.

I stand by that statement not knowing what specifically he’d do were he at the helm of the company; I stand by that statement not being able to look within Musk’s heart to know how sincere he was in his devotion to free speech; I stand by that statement notwithstanding my skepticism over Musk’s business in China. 

No matter what, it’s clearly going to be an uphill battle—with Twitter adopting a so-called poison pill to defend itself from Musk’s takeover. Let the lawsuits start flying. That it is going to be such an epic battle is incredibly revealing.

By the mere act of seeking to effectuate change at Twitter by first buying a big chunk of it and with it a board seat, only to reject the board seat offer and pivot to a takeover, Musk has exposed the hypocrisy and fraudulence of our supposed democracy-defending keepers of the liberal order in our ruling class and showed self-evidently that our betters believe Twitter to be integral to the modern public square, and thus worthy of First Amendment defense against their censorship.

Elon Musk said in his offer letter—which details a bid at a significant premium to Twitter’s recent trading prices—that:

I invested in Twitter as I believe in its potential to be the platform for free speech around the globe, and I believe free speech is a societal imperative for a functioning democracy.  

In a Ted Talk, Musk explained that:

You’d think that this is the kind of view that would be shared by all who have prospered under our relatively free system, from those in Silicon Valley to the journalists who are arguably the greatest beneficiaries of free speech, to everyday Americans.

And yet the backlash against Musk was swift.

If you believe in free and open discourse in America, then you should be cheering on Elon Musk’s effort to buy Twitter.

I stand by that statement not knowing what specifically he’d do were he at the helm of the company; I stand by that statement not being able to look within Musk’s heart to know how sincere he was in his devotion to free speech; I stand by that statement notwithstanding my skepticism over Musk’s business in China. 

No matter what it’s clearly going to be an uphill battle—with Twitter adopting a so-called poison pill to defend itself from Musk’s takeover. Let the lawsuits start flying. That it is going to be such an epic battle, is incredibly revealing.

By the mere act of seeking to effectuate change at Twitter by first buying a big chunk of it and with it a board seat, only to reject the board seat offer and pivot to a takeover, Musk has exposed the hypocrisy and fraudulence of our supposed democracy-defending keepers of the liberal order in our Ruling Class, and showed self-evidently that our betters believe Twitter to be integral to the modern public square, and thus worthy of First Amendment defense against their censorship.

Elon Musk said in his offer letter—which details a bid at a significant premium to Twitter’s recent trading prices—that:

I invested in Twitter as I believe in its potential to be the platform for free speech around the globe, and I believe free speech is a societal imperative for a functioning democracy.  

In a Ted Talk, Musk explained that:

You’d think that this is the kind of view that would be shared by all who have prospered under our relatively free system, from those in Silicon Valley to the journalists who are arguably the greatest beneficiaries of free speech, to everyday Americans.

And yet the backlash against Musk was swift.

Twitter employees were apparently in conniptions.

The blue checkmarks were apoplectic:

Max Boot of the Washington Post—in something that could’ve come from the Babylon Bee—tweeted:

I am frightened by the impact on society and politics if Elon Musk acquires Twitter. He seems to believe that on social media anything goes. For democracy to survive, we need more content moderation, not less.

That’s it, for democracy to survive, we need more censorship and suppression. And what about the impact on society and politics of Woke leftist ideologues running every single institution, Max Boot?

And are we just gonna memory-hole by the way what suppressing the Hunter Biden laptop story did to our democracy?

Boot as noted writes for The Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post, which has in many ways led the communications campaign against Musk laughably, and without a hint of irony. 

It also ran an op-ed from a former Reddit CEO, who wrote: “Musk’s appointment to Twitter’s board shows that we need regulation of social media platforms to prevent rich people from controlling our channels of communication.”

G-d forbid a wealthy person we can’t control and who might disagree with us try to buy a communications company. 

And then we get this report:

In the Hunter Biden laptop suppression story I talked about collusion between the Deep State, journalists and Big Tech. Well if Fox’s report is true, and we have not just a revolt from Twitter, and presumably most of the Silicon Valley progressives, by the media, and now the bureaucracy—the state—also all going after Musk, this would seem to mirror in some ways the collusion critical to the Biden laptop story.

It would show that public and private sector power has conspired against someone proclaiming to stand for the liberties of the people.

And they’d be standing with non-Americans with distinctively different views on free speech by the way.

Look at Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud, one of the largest shareholders in Twitter, who said “I reject this offer.”

As Musk replied, on Twitter because he’s essentially live-tweeted this whole takeover effort from the start, in one of the most meta sagas we’ve ever seen:

How much of Twitter does the Kingdom own, directly & indirectly? What are the Kingdom’s views on journalistic freedom of speech?

The Saudi prince is joined by America’s largest brokerage houses like BlackRock and Vanguard as Twitter’s big holders. 

It’s apparently ok for them to own Twitter, but not someone who claims to actually want to end its censorship, and preserve free and open discourse?

Would all of these people be fighting so hard to maintain progressive dominance over Twitter if they didn’t understand it to be a hugely consequential part of the public square?

And if they see it that way, and then you have the politicians who pressure these platforms to censor, not to mention the White House getting in on the act, how can we see the censorship as anything other than First Amendment violations by proxy?

An attempt to maintain a total monopoly over the narrative, to maintain a total monopoly on power.

It should be clear for all to see: They don’t care about rich people sitting in positions of power and influence.

They just want to make sure it’s THEIR kind of rich people sitting in positions of power and influence.

They don’t truly believe in combatting misinformation and disinformation, or moderating content because of concerns over actual safety or democratic health.

They just want to make sure that the only narratives that prevail are the ones that further the safety of THEIR power and privilege.

No matter what happens, Elon Musk has put not just Twitter’s board, but the entire Ruling Class on the defensive. What should they have to fear about someone who might let the Bad Orange Man back on Twitter, or stop The Babylon Bee from being censored? 

Will Twitter’s board be able to find a better offer? If not, is it upholding its fiduciary duty to shareholders? 

Might it have to actually grapple, publicly, with the fact it discriminates against the half of the country it loathes? 

Probably not, but at least these questions are being forced to the surface.

I don’t know that Elon Musk would make the greatest owner of Twitter, but I will say this: He is garnering all the right critics, for all the right reasons, and they are showing themselves to be the last people who ought to be in charge of the digital public square.

For that, if this bid ends tomorrow, Elon Musk has done a tremendous public service, to the betterment of the American way of life, and in defense of our first and most essential freedom—the ability to speak freely.

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