Elon Musk’s kinda, sorta bid to buy all of Twitter for about $43 billion has provoked an utterly predictable meltdown of the professional Left that manages to be both apoplectic and unintentionally amusing. Consider, for instance the sober reflections of Robert Reich on the matter.
Reich, in the Guardian, argued that Twitter was right to shut down Trump’s account to “save Democracy”. (When Progressives talk about “saving Democracy” they really mean saving Democrats). Musk committed the sin of disagreeing with Twitter’s decision saying that U.S. tech companies shouldn’t be acting “as the de facto arbiter of free speech”.
That, apparently is what sent Reich over the top. He complained that “Musk has long advocated a libertarian vision of an ‘uncontrolled’ internet.” He then went on to assert “That vision is dangerous rubbish.” Which is all you need to know. It’s all about control, and Reich is all for it, provided he and his Progressive pals are the ones in charge.
Amplifying the inanity he goes on to say “[A lack of accountability] is Musk’s dream. And Trump’s. And Putin’s. And the dream of every dictator, strongman, demagogue and modern-day robber baron on Earth. For the rest of us, it would be a brave new nightmare.” Which is the amusing part.
Amusing because Robert Reich is comparing market accountability unfavorably to bureaucratic accountability. Just ask yourself this question, How long do companies last when they do a poor job of serving their customers? The correct answer is, absent government aid, not very long. Now ask yourself a related question, How long do failing bureaucracies last? The correct answer is: Forever.
The hysteria over the Musk bid is not limited to Robert Reich. Max Boot similarly hyperventilated on Twitter “I am frightened by the impact on society and politics if Elon Musk acquires Twitter. He seems to believe that on social media anything goes. For democracy to survive, we need more content moderation, not less.” So there we go again saving Democracy by keeping a lid on what people are allowed to think and say.
And then there is Jeff Jarvis, Leonard Tow Professor of Journalism and Director of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the City University of New York. Speaking of the Musk bid, Jarvis took to Twitter and said “Today on Twitter feels like the last evening in a Berlin nightclub at the twilight of Weimar Germany.”
That of course is taken from Chapter 1 of the standard Progressive playbook. Anybody who disagrees with the received wisdom is deemed to be a Nazi. Or some other kind of racist, misogynist, white supremacist, etc. etc. The list is endless.
As usual, the Progressives’ reaction is to pretend that free speech on the internet (and elsewhere) is not free speech at all. It is only free speech and worthy of protection if Progressives agree with it. Otherwise it is wrong-think and must be suppressed.
Unfortunately, the suppression of free speech by bureaucratic means is becoming more common and more aggressive. Progressive members of the California state legislature, for instance, have proposed to take away the licenses of doctors who spread what they call “disinformation”, a not so subtle warning to doctors who are opposed to lock-down-and-mask-mandate protocols.
And then there is the by now infamous Hunter Biden laptop story. The one that Twitter, Google, Facebook and Apple suppressed, calling it Russian disinformation in the final weeks of the 2020 Presidential race. Except that it turned out to be true. Funny thing though, neither Max Boot, who called the story likely Russian disinformation, nor Robert Reich has been heard from on the subject of accountability on that score.
In the developing Musk story one thing is almost certain. If Musk proceeds with his attempt to buy Twitter, you can count on the federal bureaucracy throwing roadblocks in his path, beginning with the Federal Trade Commission, and maybe the SEC.
The threat to freedom in the U.S. does not come from Elon Musk. It comes from Progressive elites whose Command-and-Control ethos is threatened by free speech and free markets. They claim to be bothered by concentrations of power. But that is a lie. They prefer the centralization and concentration of power—in their hands.
Let’s stipulate that an awful lot of people say an awful lot of stupid things on various Social Media platforms, including Twitter. But stupid is not illegal. Neither is hate speech or the various phobias that Progressives are constantly inventing. They are the price we pay for freedom.
And while we are stipulating that Social Media platforms can contain a lot of nonsense, let’s not pretend that is what bothers Progressives who, to put it mildly, manage to post their fair share of nonsense.
No. What really bothers Progressives is the prospect that their control over the parameters of content could be weakened. Their collective delirium at the prospect of Elon Musk opening up the game thus threatening their status as gatekeepers tells you all you need to know.