Thank You, Elon!
Updated: Apr 21, 2022
First of all, let's stipulate we don't know how this corporate intrigue will end. These things can take unpredictable turns.
And Elon Musk's dramatic offer to buy 100% of Twitter has a couple of unique wrinkles.
Typically, an attempted takeover is accomplished by cobbling together a consortium of investors and lenders who are all motivated by one thing: money. Specifically, return on investment.
As a result, the initiative often evaporates when the potential acquirer has an opportunity to realize a large, immediate profit. Or when the target company can put up adequate roadblocks. In fact, it is the duty of the potential acquirer to generate the quickest, surest and highest return for his/her consortium of investors and/or lenders.
But, here's the first wrinkle. Elon Musk has no duty or need to maximize return on this potential deal, because it's all him*. He will certainly want a return on this investment, but he doesn't need it. This would be his personal purchase, like you or I buying a new Tesla. If Musk never gets a penny back on this investment, he will still be more than fine.
Then there's the other wrinkle. He specifically notes in his offer letter that he invested in Twitter because he "believe[s] in its potential to be the platform for free speech around the globe, and [he] believe[s] free speech is a societal imperative for a functioning democracy."
Even if you aren't a pro-freedom dork like I am, that could bring tears to your eyes.
Our democracy is in serious jeopardy. And it is not from "right wing disinformation." It is from a small group of elites that control the information most people receive. And rely on when they go to the ballot box.
As a nauseating example, earlier this month, the University of Chicago's "nonpartisan" Institute of Politics and The Atlantic hosted something called "Disinformation and the Erosion of Democracy."
A question was directed to Anne Applebaum, a writer for The Atlantic and, ironically, an author of anti-authoritarian books. Basically, the question was: how can we ensure that something which is both true and relevant to voters, like Hunter Biden's laptop, doesn't get censored as "disinformation"?
Her response could not have been more patronizing and condescending.
You'd have to watch the video, but picture someone in a throne-like chair on a stage with legs crossed and dismissively saying the following, in an imperious voice that should only belong to a Muffy or a Chad:
“My problem with Hunter Biden’s laptop is I think it’s totally irrelevant. I mean, it’s not whether it’s disinformation… I didn’t think Hunter Biden’s business relationships have anything to do with who should be President of the United States. I don’t find it to be interesting, I mean, that would be my problem with that as a major news story.”
Lots of people have already pointed out that if you put together a checklist to make a story interesting, the Hunter Biden laptop story checks every box. That story may or may not be a lot of things, but it sure doesn't lack for interesting.
But, here is the important part -
Elites like her don't really trust the majority of their fellow citizens. We are too stupid - "disinformation" will sway our vote. And we will not have the "right" result. In other words, these elites don't actually believe in democracy.
By definition - if anyone considers a piece of information relevant to how they would vote (for example, the laptop story), they should have that information. Otherwise, you do not believe in democracy.
The antidote for disinformation is more information, not less. Unless you don't believe in democracy.
Let It Fly
Protection of free speech shouldn't have to rely on the genuine patriotic heroism of the world's richest man. Twitter and certain other big tech providers should essentially be considered public utilities, like the phone company has been for decades. As "platforms" (rather than publishers) they are, rightly, immune from liability for what someone says on their platform, under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. In return for that immunity, and because they are (as Musk has pointed out) the modern public square, they should not censor speech they don't like. Instead, refute it. Simply compete in the marketplace of ideas.
Elon Musk is not a conservative, but he is intelligent and he gets that.
Twitter has proven in the past that it is one of the very few things that can break through the propaganda monolith. But, the elites saw that and, right before the 2020 election, they caged the twitter bird.
If Elon Musk is successful, he will open the cage and let the bird fly free again.
On behalf of real freedom and real democracy,* Thank You and Good Luck!
* I realize there will likely be some form of liquidity financing involved, at a minimum. Even Elon Musk doesn't carry $40 billion around in his wallet.
I also realize the US has a constitutional republic, rather than a pure democracy, in part for reasons discussed here.