Saturday, September 24, 2022

If Freedom is a Right, then Free Speech is a Musk 

The number of recriminations, outcries, open threats, and hysterical statements hurled against Elon Musk’s successful bid for Twitter is simply mind boggling in the world of corporate M&A. After all, Twitter is a business irrespective of the industry in which it operates. Usually, it is the FCC, or the Anti-Trust Division at the DoJ or the SEC who take the lead in reviewing and commenting on takeovers that have the potential of creating unhealthy combinations or straight-out concentrations in specific sectors. Elon Musk produces cars and spaceships just like Jeff Bezos who delivers goods at the world’s doorsteps. So, why is it OK for Bezos to own the Washington Post, but forbidden for Musk to own Twitter? Note that Musk is not unique in his quest for media assets, as we can add to the list of the rich and famous who own TV, radio, telecom, and publishing assets names such as Ted Turner, Carlos Slim, Silvio Berlusconi, and Vincent Bollore.

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It seems that since Bezos’ politics lean towards the tutti-frutti, liberal, leftist, Martha’s Vineyard crowd, any form of outrage regarding the ownership of an influential newspapers such as the Washington Post is simply muted. On the opposite side of the spectrum, Musk is portrayed (dunno why?) as the archetype of the rightwing maniac. Almost a card-carrying KKK member because he grew up in Apartheid South Africa and is white that, despite having said very little about his own political views or ambitions. He posts emojis, builds electrical cars, and lately, gave free and unencumbered Internet access, via his constellation of satellites, to the Ukrainian army and volunteers in the midst of their war against the invading Russian hordes. That’s good, no? 

Not good enough it seems if Musk dares reinstating Trump, Marjorie Taylor Green, or Alex Jones to Twitter.

So, helping to combat climate change by building and promoting electric cars, providing vital assistance to a country under invasion, and vowing to restore freedom and transparency to Twitter are not welcomed by US Democrats and their coterie of useful idiots in Hollywood and the mainstream media, if Trump is allowed back to shoot tweets (not missiles) via a mode of communications (Twitter) that is presently open to usage by the likes of the IRGC, the Houthis, the China Communist Party, Al Sharpton and Linda Sarsour?!

In today’s woke culture, shutting up someone, or to use a modern terminology cancelling someone, is OK if that person’s views are not in tune with the current occupant of the White House, or his handlers. When was democracy, and US democracy, ever based on cancelling the other party, or one’s opponents, detractors, or critics? Protests in the US have been a sacred exercise of democracy from the abolitionists to Brown vs. the Board of Education, to the pro-civil rights movement, to the anti-Vietnam protestors, to Woodstock, to the Occupy Wall Street movement, to BLM and Antifa, and to many other forms of disagreement, whether civil or uncivil.

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The modern forums of the 21st centuries are no more limited to townhall meetings, or street protests, or long marches on the capital. They are to be found in daily chats, posts, comments, and jibes, sometimes courteous and often not, on Facebook, Twitter and other cyber platforms where people (sometimes robots) trade views, commentaries, opinions and yes, biases, prejudices and insults.  So, What?! No one wants to shut up and that is a good thing rather than a bad thing unless we all want to live the Orwelian Tale “1984”. 

Our ancestors and predecessors were clearly more open-minded than the so-call progressive, liberal, latte-sipping, Washington Post-reading, elite. The ancient Greeks pioneered free speech as a democratic principle. The ancient Greek word “parrhesia” means “free speech,” or “to speak candidly.” The term first appeared in Greek literature around the end of the fifth century B.C. During the Roman Empire, Marcus Tullius Cicero said: “Freedom is a man’s natural power of doing what he pleases, so far as he is not prevented by force or law.”

Montesquieu’s De L’Esprit de Lois (or Spirit of the Law) from 1748 contains the principal argument for free speech and a necessary separation of words from actions: … “Wherever this law is established, there is an end not only of liberty, but even of its very shadow …” and, Jefferson the American Great Sphinx once wrote, “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.” 

So, for all those liberals, pseudo-intellectuals, Hollywood crazies and Capitol Hill G.I. Joes & Janes, who are melting on social media and threatening (again) to move to Canada if Musk’s bid for Twitter were successful, a word of wisdom is de rigueure.  Do not watch any media outlet or read any popular newspaper, just go back to the founding fathers of democracy such as the ancient Greeks, the Romans, the philosophers of the Enlightenment Period, and the Founding Fathers of America and you will find the answer to your misplaced anger. 

Remember that that ‘anger’ is one letter short of ‘danger’. If you like, and mostly if you dislike, this post please send your (angry) comments to my Twitter account: @See-If-I-care

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