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Media Says the Quiet Part Out Loud About Elon Musk, Calls Internet Free Speech the 'Dream of Every Dictator'

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Here are three things that most people who have been paying attention to the Elon Musk/Twitter saga know.

First, Musk is now the largest shareholder in the social media giant, buying 9.2 percent of the company’s stock for $2.89 billion last week. He was set to take a seat on the board but then backed out, likely because it would preclude him from buying more of the company’s shares.

Second, Musk has expressed grave concerns about the stifling of free speech on social media platforms. In January 2021, after the platform banned then-President Donald Trump, Musk warned, “A lot of people are going to be super unhappy with West Coast high tech as the de facto arbiter of free speech.” He has said similar things before and since.

Third, Musk’s “libertarian vision of an ‘uncontrolled’ internet” where free speech is protected is “the dream of every dictator, strongman and demagogue.”

Wait, hold up — you didn’t know that last part? You haven’t been keeping up with things, it seems.

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On Tuesday, the U.K.’s highly liberal Guardian and former President Bill Clinton’s treasury secretary, Robert Reich, teamed up for an opinion piece advancing that piece of startlingly Orwellian piffle.

It’s unclear which entity was responsible for that subheadline, but it was eventually changed — although the content of Reich’s piece, which is hardly much better, remains mostly unchanged — and, at its conclusion, Reich wrote something materially similar to the toxic sub-header.

(This is yet another example of the establishment media sticking up for Big Tech censorship, knowing they won’t be on the losing end of it. The rest of us — including us here at The Western Journal — feel the pernicious effects of this suppression every day. We’ll never compromise on our principles to fit Big Tech’s edicts, however — and you can help us in our battle by subscribing.)

The piece, titled “Elon Musk’s vision for the internet is dangerous nonsense,” doesn’t exactly prove Reich’s point. But that’s never usually the point with Reich; if you’re familiar with his oeuvre, the essential argument is always that big government or big businesses whose interests are aligned with big government need to rein in the oligarchs who don’t fit in with Reich’s hard-left vision.

In this case, that vision is using Twitter — the de facto public square in the digital age — to police what acceptable speech entails.

The original subheadline, however, managed to turn the subtext of the piece into mere text:

War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Free speech is a dictatorship.

At least someone at the Guardian — be it a copy editor or Reich himself — was willing to distill what anyone else could effectively grok if they read between the lines of the article.

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“Musk has long advocated a libertarian vision of an ‘uncontrolled’ internet. That vision is dangerous rubbish. There’s no such animal, and there never will be,” Reich wrote.

“Someone has to decide on the algorithms in every platform — how they’re designed, how they evolve, what they reveal and what they hide. Musk has enough power and money to quietly give himself this sort of control over Twitter.”

He went on to say that “Musk says he wants to ‘free’ the internet. But what he really aims to do is make it even less accountable than it is now, when it’s often impossible to discover who is making the decisions about how algorithms are designed, who is filling social media with lies, who’s poisoning our minds with pseudo-science and propaganda, and who’s deciding which versions of events go viral and which stay under wraps.”

Would you like to see less censorship on Twitter?

Reich produced no evidence that this is Musk’s intent, mind you. In fact, circumstantial evidence would suggest this isn’t the case. Not only has Musk been an ardent free speech absolutist when it comes to social media, but he’s also been a vocal critic of the lack of transparency in Twitter’s algorithm.

Reich never bothered to address this inconvenient fact, simply taking it as a matter of faith that because Musk is a billionaire, he must want to control free speech and make it bend to his whims.

“In Musk’s vision of Twitter and the internet, he’d be the wizard behind the curtain — projecting on the world’s screen a fake image of a brave new world empowering everyone,” he wrote, evidence-free.

“That’s Musk’s dream. And Trump’s. And Putin’s. And the dream of every dictator, strongman, demagogue and modern-day robber baron on Earth,” Reich said, conjuring a line from Musk to former President Donald Trump, Russian leader Vladimir Putin and beyond. “For the rest of us, it would be a brave new nightmare.”

While none of Reich’s brazen demagogy has changed since the piece was published, the subheadline has. It now reads, “Musk now faces no limit on how much of Twitter’s stock he can buy. He’ll buy as much as he needs to gain total control.”

The great irony here is that even if the bleak Musk-controlled Twitter hellscape Reich described comes to pass, it already exists — it’s just in the hands of tech oligarchs with whom Reich happens to share an ideology. The wizards currently behind the curtain ensure that “free speech” is bent toward the whims of Robert Reich and his ilk.

His issue with Musk isn’t that he’s a power-hungry tech billionaire using free speech as a Trojan horse. His issue is that Musk might actually mean it when he says he wants to bring free speech to social media.

If you ever want to know just how important the rigged shell game of Silicon Valley’s censorship and algorithm shifts is to the left, all you need to do is look at Reich’s freakout over Elon Musk.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture