Elon Musk’s Bid To Buy Twitter Should Be Supported By All Who Value Free Speech

Those who are intimidated by freedom of speech should reflect on why they lack confidence that their beliefs could win in a free competition of ideas.

Elon Musk’s bid to take over Twitter has generated an often unhinged response from those who seem intimidated by freedom of speech.

Here are some examples:

“We sure went quickly from Twitter can do “whatever it wants to” because “that is its freedom of expression” to living in “the last evening in a Berlin nightclub at the twilight of Weimar Germany,””

“My personal favorite: Schrodinger’s private corporation. When it does something @maxboot likes, it can’t be questioned.

But when it goes against Boot? Cue political outrage.”

“I…don’t really have anything to add to this from @David_Leavitt”

That’s just a sample of the response from those who seem to fear Musk taking over Twitter.

Opposition to Musk’s bid has also come from a member of the Saudi royal family:

“I don’t believe that the proposed offer by @elonmusk ($54.20) comes close to the intrinsic value of Twitter given its growth prospects.

Being one of the largest & long-term shareholders of Twitter, @Kingdom_KHC & I reject this offer.”

Musk was quick to respond:

“Interesting. Just two questions, if I may.

How much of Twitter does the Kingdom own, directly & indirectly?

What are the Kingdom’s views on journalistic freedom of speech?”

The ‘progressive’ left and Saudi Arabia on the same side?

Given the authoritarian nature of Saudi Arabia, and given Saudi Arabia’s attitude towards Women’s rights, LGBT rights, and freedom of speech, you would think that the ‘progressive’ left would oppose members of the Saudi royal family holding sway over Twitter.

And yet, many on the ‘progressive’ left have been cheering on the Saudi Royal’s opposition to Musk’s bid.

This demonstrates how warped the debate over free speech has become.

Whereas support for free speech and free expression was once popular among those on the left, much of the left has shifted in an authoritarian direction, seeking to silence ideas they disagree with rather than engaging with those ideas.

By contrast, Elon Musk is much more of a classical liberal, or libertarian in his outlook towards free speech and free expression:

“NOW – Elon Musk says free speech is when “someone you don’t like is allowed to say something you don’t like.”

Musk is 100% right here.

And the fact that his viewpoint is somewhat controversial shows how far our society has drifted from our core values.

It was once widely agreed upon that being open to different ideas and viewpoints made our society stronger, not weaker.

Free speech and free expression helps keep government power in check, it helps us be more creative and adaptive, it prevents massive policy errors by allowing for constant readjustment and correction of mistakes, and it makes us all wealthier by enhancing the freedom that is essential to entrepreneurship.

Future success at risk

The values that have made the Western world so successful are at serious risk.

If we lose our belief in freedom of speech and freedom of expression and give in to centralized censorship, we will destroy the free exchange of ideas and ruin the engine of creativity and wealth creation that has so far driven us forward.

There’s nothing less ‘progressive’ than that.

That’s why all of us who support freedom of speech should be supporting Musk’s bid to takeover Twitter.

Think of the alternative…

Isn’t it concerning that an alliance of massive investment funds, the Saudi royal family, and pro-censorship statists are all so terrified by free speech?

What do they think they are going to lose?

Why don’t they believe their ideas can succeed in a free and open competition?

Confidence in control, not in their principles

There is a disturbing parallel between many of those who are terrified by Musk’s bid, and the attitude of authoritarian states.

Both seem to lack confidence in their beliefs, and instead are only confident in their desire to control others.

If China and Russia truly believed that their centralized & authoritarian form of governance was the best, why not let the media be free?

Why not let people share their views without fear of the state throwing them in jail?

Why not let people protest freely and make their voices heard?

Shouldn’t a ‘superior’ system and superior set of ideas be able to compete against other ideas and win?

By the same token, why don’t those who oppose Musk’s bid for Twitter have confidence that their own worldview would win out in a free competition?

Why do they feel they need censorship to win?

The reason – in my view – is that deep down people know that authoritarian-based ideas aren’t as effective as freedom-based ideas.

They know that – over time – if people are given the choice to be free they will choose to be free, rather than being controlled by others.

They also know that the ability to impose your worldview on others is thwarted by the free exchange of ideas, as people adapt, grow, learn, advance, and change.

When people are free to share their views – even when we deeply oppose those views – they get to see those views be challenged and critiqued, and those who disagree with them get exposed to viewpoints they may not have considered.

That heightens the overall intelligence of human civilization, bringing forth ideas that are a synthesis of previously isolated concepts, which in turn generates new opportunities and new ways of looking at and solving previously intractable problems.

Having faith in human beings

The fundamental crux of the debate over Elon Musk’s bid for Twitter and the broader debate over free speech is the divide between those who have faith in human beings, and those who don’t.

I don’t mean the naïve, ‘everyone is nice and peaceful’ view of humanity, but the idea that the world is better off when individuals are allowed to share their views freely, and that humanity is strengthened by the free exchange of ideas.

By contrast, there are many who seem terrified of letting people make their own choices, who let their own fear of people ‘choosing wrong’ drive them to want to control, censor, and subjugate others.

That obsession with censorship and control is what is truly behind the opposition to Musk’s Twitter bid, and it’s why all of us who have faith in the potential of humanity and who value freedom should stand in support of Musk’s effort to takeover Twitter and help it become a true forum for free expression in a world that is in desperate need of it.

Spencer Fernando

Photo – Twitter


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