“Elon Musk is facing heavy criticism for Twitter’s decision to censor tweets at the behest of the Turkish government right before the country’s presidential election.” — Daily Beast
Of all the rights claimed by a free people, perhaps none is more important than the right to speak freely and without fear, safe against capricious political retaliation or reprisal. The Founding Fathers considered freedom of speech so crucial to the experiment of self-government that they protected it in the very first amendment.
As a free speech absolutist, only death could stop me from defending the rights of Twitter users to speak without censorship. Well, either death or a request from an autocratic leader asking that I censor certain content that could be sensitive for their regime. Whichever comes first.
When I acquired Twitter, I vowed to end the era of big tech censorship. This may not have been popular with the woke elites, but I believe it was the right thing to do. For too long, conservative Americans had their opinions stifled by social media sites. This kind of bias can lead to ideological bubbles, groupthink, and, ultimately, the demise of a free society.
Because the threat is so extraordinary, I am willing to accept death if it means that the public’s freedom to speak and express their ideas remains guarded. Unless, of course, an intimidating figure like Turkey’s President Erdoğan very reasonably asks me to hide and curtail the distribution of certain subversive communications from his political opponents, which could damage his electoral prospects. What am I supposed to do? Say no? And risk upsetting a powerful authoritarian?
The men who founded this country stood for something. They committed treason against the monarchy, risking death by hanging rather than live for another second under an oppressive regime. Are we so afraid of getting canceled by ridiculous social justice warriors that we won’t say what we know to be true? Free speech is a bedrock principle that all Americans should rally behind, a cause that any of us should be prepared to take up arms to defend, an idea for which it would be better to die than to live oppressed.
But there are many other countries besides America. Big countries. Beautiful countries. Countries I have extensive business interests in. Countries where free speech is not a bedrock principle. And I think that’s just great. Often, these countries would throttle Twitter entirely if I didn’t agree to a sliver of censorship.
And who would win then? The average Turkish user surely benefits more from some Twitter than no Twitter at all. In time, societies abroad with access to social media will learn from the contributions of the American left (like climate science) and the American right (like race science).
They say that if you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything. So today, I’m drawing a line in the sand and standing up for free speech. Let every enemy of freedom know, let every would-be tyrant be warned, and let every petty dictator take notice: If you want Twitter to censor its users, just send me an email.