[Adapted from the latest Radio Derb, now available exclusively on VDARE.com]
It sounds like good news to me. Musk has the very endearing character trait—rare in the business world and extremely rare in the upper management of social-media platforms—of not taking himself too seriously.
On Wednesday, for example, he tweeted out a video clip of himself coming into the lobby of a grand office building carrying a porcelain sink fixture.
Above the clip was the legend:
Entering Twitter HQ—let that sink in!
Entering Twitter HQ – let that sink in! pic.twitter.com/D68z4K2wq7— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 26, 2022
The contrast with Twitter’s cofounder and earlier CEO Jack Dorsey could hardly be more striking. If Jack Dorsey ever tweeted a joke, I missed it. If there are any pictures of Jack Dorsey smiling, I haven’t seen them.
Dorsey was a major donor to woke and lefty causes [Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey donates $10 million to Ibram X. Kendi’s center on antiracism at Boston University, Business Insider, August 21, 2020], a fan of New-Agey meditation cults [Why Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey practiced this ‘extremely painful’ ancient meditation technique for his birthday, MakeIt, December 14, 2018] and the guy who banned President Trump from Twitter. He took himself very seriously.
The New York Times tells us that Agrawal was seen by some observers in the tech world as a ”spiritual successor” to Dorsey [Who Is Parag Agrawal, Twitter’s New C.E.O.? , by Mike Isaac, Kate Conger and Cade Metz, November 29, 2021]. I’m not quite sure how we should take that, but the issue is anyway moot: Agrawal was let go this week with, according to the Times of India, a $60 million handshake: ‘Bird is freed’: Musk takes Twitter; Parag Agrawal and Vijaya Gadde are said to exit with big payouts, October 28, 2022.
The hope is of course that under Musk’s ownership Twitter will be more tolerant of heterodoxy—of ideas, intelligently expressed and supported by facts, that lie outside the narrow boundaries dictated by the academic, media, and political guardians of public speech.
I said ”the hope is”; but of course to those guardians it’s not a hope but a fear. Here was the BBC website reporting just this morning on the Musk takeover:
There are fears that more lenient free speech policies would mean people banned for hate speech or disinformation may be invited back to the platform. As well as Mr Trump, that could include political extremists, QAnon loyalists and Covid-19 deniers[Elon Musk takes control of Twitter in $44bn deal by James Clayton & Peter Hoskins, October 28th, 2022]
Note the obligatory cant terms there: ”hate speech,” ”disinformation.” Yes, the Beeb has fears, not hopes. Likewise, I am sure, every other mouthpiece for globalist orthodoxy.
To be perfectly fair to them, there are nontrivial issues here.
Speaking of heterodoxy a minute ago, I said ”ideas, intelligently expressed and supported by facts, that lie outside the narrow boundaries dictated by the academic, media, and political guardians of public speech.” I’d like to see ideas like that discussed openly on social media.
The problem is, a lot of ideas are not like that: not intelligently expressed and/or not supported by facts. There are a great many shrieking lunatics out there—far more than there used to be, is my very strong impression. As the recent troubles around Kanye West remind us, not all ideas are intelligently expressed.
Nor, in the social sphere, are facts much known or respected. I’m sure you’ve seen reports on polls carried out asking people how many unarmed blacks are killed by police each year. Here’s one from February last year:
The survey says among the very liberal, more than 50 percent believe American law enforcement killed 1,000 or more unarmed black men in 2019. Nearly 8 percent of the very liberal respondents believe officers killed more than 10,000 unarmed black men in 2019,
[Half of Survey’s Very Liberal Respondents Believe 1,000 or More Unarmed Black Men Killed by Police in 2019, by David Griffith, Police magazine, February 25, 2021]
That’s very liberal respondents. The survey goes on to break down the responses for just-liberal, moderate, conservative, and very conservative respondents.
1/n A recent nationally representative survey commissioned by Skeptic Mag asked respondents to estimate the number of unarmed blacks killed by police in 2019. Overall, 44% of liberals guessed 1,000 or more as compared to 20% of conservatives (this calculation is based on the.. pic.twitter.com/WvCvij3SF3— Zach Goldberg (@ZachG932) February 23, 2021
Even among those identifying as ”very conservative,” four percent of respondents thought the number was more than ten thousand.
The actual number is either 12 or 27, depending on whether you use the Washington Post database or the one from the anti-cop ”Mapping Police Violence” website.
So yes, there is an ocean of stupidity and ignorance out there—including in the Corporate Media. It’s liable to throw up frequent tsunamis of nonsense on any completely uncontrolled social media platform. There are lines to be drawn, with thought and care and impartial good judgment to be used in drawing them.
Elon Musk seems to be aware of this. That BBC report I mentioned earlier includes the following:
Earlier this week, Mr Musk said that he doesn’t want the platform to become an echo chamber for hate and division. ”Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hell-scape, where anything can be said with no consequences!” he tweeted.
And I’ll just note that the word ”hate” there, used to mean ”heterodox thoughts,” is the Beeb’s usage, not Musk’s.
To those of us who remember the early days of the internet—the era of listservs, before the word ”blog” was coined, or the phrase ”social media”—this is all nostalgia-inducing. The early internet was free and wide open.
That was then, though, and this is now.
Sure, colleges were headed over the cliff 25 years ago. They weren’t there yet, though; not to the point where a respectable university would give a low-IQ poseur like Ibram X. Kendi his very own research center.
Executive summary: We were more civilized then than we are now.
A Tory gal, name of Suella,— John Derbyshire (@DissidentRight) October 23, 2022
Was Asian -- the brown sort, not yella.
She went too far right,
Gave her colleagues a fright,
So they replaced her with a white fella.
Yeah, yeah, everybody's a critic.— John Derbyshire (@DissidentRight) October 24, 2022
(I’ve also Got On Gab @jderbyshire!)
So I hope Elon Musk is up to the task of keeping a more open Twitter on an even keel. It will need vigilance and good judgment.
My prediction: He will indeed be up to it.
BBC on Elon Musk's South African childhood: bullied at his school, and *by the way*, a group of armed blacks burst into his family's home and had to be shot by his father wild young Elon watched. https://t.co/fU7SQqfJ8j— VDARE (@vdare) October 28, 2022
John Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjects for all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review, whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him.) He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism and several other books. He has had two books published by VDARE.com com: FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle) and FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT II: ESSAYS 2013.
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