Our elites hate you. It’s that simple.
Elon Musk and the Tech Bro Obsession With ‘Free Speech,’ by Charlotte Alter, Time.com, April 29, 2022
They say that something is worth what someone will pay for it.
If that’s true, then protecting “free speech,” which Elon Musk has cited as a central reason he agreed to buy Twitter for $44 billion this week, may be worth twice as much as solving America’s homelessness problem, and seven times as much as solving world hunger. It’s worth more (to him, at least) than educating every child in nearly 50countries, more than the GDP of Serbia, Jordan, or Paraguay.
In the days since Musk agreed to terms on a deal to take Twitter private, nearly all of Musk’s tweets have been about freedom and censorship on the platform. Like: By ‘free speech,’ I simply mean that which matches the law. I am against censorship that goes far beyond the law.” Or: “Truth Social (terrible name) exists because Twitter censored free speech.” And: “the extreme antibody reaction from those who fear free speech says it all.”
Why does Musk care so much about this? Why would a guy who has pushed the boundaries of electric-vehicle manufacturing and plumbed the limits of commercial space flight care about who can say what on Twitter?
“Freedom of speech” has become a paramount concern of the techno-moral universe. The issue has anchored nearly every digital media debate for the last two years, from the dustup over Joe Rogan at Spotify to vaccine misinformation on Facebook. Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg gave a major speech at Georgetown in 2019 about the importance of “free expression” and has consistently relied on the theme when explaining why Facebook has struggled to curb disinformation on the platform.
“It does seem to be a dominant obsession with the most elite, the most driven Elon Musks of the world,” says Fred Turner, professor of communication at Stanford University and author of several books about Silicon Valley culture, who argues that “free speech seems to be much more of an obsession among men.” Turner says the drive to harness and define the culture around online speech is related to “the entrepreneurial push: I did it in business, I did it in space, and now I’m going to do it in the world.”
Business itself may be part of the motivation. Many of the most valuable digital platforms have business models that rely on mining user content for data and selling it to advertisers. From the platform’s perspective, more speech equals more cash.
”free speech has become an obsession of the mostly white, male members of the tech elite…”
In a society where the very idea of whiteness is synonymous with evil, daring to believe speech is free because you believe white people have any rights is now, in the eyes of this writer from Time, yet another unpardonable offense added to the ledger of white men.
Such an idea is anathema in 2022 America.