Elon Musk may or may not buy Twitter and take it private. However, his takeover offer has shaken the radical Left that calls the shots at the social media giant. For all you know, Twitter's newly-minted CEO Parag Agarwal must be quaking in his boots. It is his inglorious version of free speech on Twitter that Elon Musk would be hacking at if he gets to control Twitter.
Democrat politicians, left-liberal commentators, and dubious think tanks have reacted sharply to Musk's takeover plans. Some have said they are 'frightened' at the prospect of Musk buying Twitter while others plainly mouth inanities.
Who is Frightened?
All in the name of free speech. Musk laid it out clearly that he sees Twitter as a modern-day public square and he, therefore, wants to end arbitrary censoring on the platform. "Given that Twitter serves as the de facto public town square, failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy," Musk has said.
"I am frightened by the impact on society and politics if Elon Musk acquires Twitter," says liberal columnist Max Boot. "He (Musk) seems to believe that on social media anything goes. For democracy to survive, we need more content moderation, not less," the columnist added.
The spectacle of Free Speech Espousal
The liberals and the Democrats want to keep the ideological stranglehold over Twitter. They champion free speech in a very general sense and are generally extremely good at making a great spectacle of their free speech espousal. However, if free speech threatens to derail their political success, they have no scruples in scuppering it.
The New York Post published stories on the existence of Hunter Biden's infamous laptop before the 2020 election. Twitter banned the Post on the platform and blocked users from sharing the Post article. In the months that followed, it became clear that the story was legitimate. The Hunter Biden scandal went from bad to worse in due course and even the liberal media can no longer feign ignorance of it.
However, before the crucial 2020 elections, it served the liberal and democrat causes to hush up truth.
Twitter's former CEO Jack Dorsey was quite candid about it. He has clearly said the platform is left-leaning and that it has biases. "We need to constantly show that we are not adding our own bias, which I fully admit is ... is more left-leaning," Dorsey told CNN in an interview.
Dorsey also admitted that Twitter employees share a 'largely left-leaning bias' and that employees with conservative political orientation are discriminated against.
Dorsey made the startling admission following open complaints about Twitter's political bias. He admitted that conservative employees "don't feel safe to express their opinions" within the company. "We have a lot of conservative-leaning folks in the company as well, and to be honest, they don't feel safe to express their opinions at the company ... They do feel silenced by just the general swirl of what they perceive to be the broader percentage of leanings within the company, and I don't think that's fair or right," he said.
The liberals and democrats who try to stop Musk from taking over Twitter are, in fact, endorsing censorship by the platform. Yet, paradoxically, they champion free speech. It appears that one needs to be liberal to have the right to free speech.
Censoring Conservative Voices
"You're actually scared of people freely discussing ideas and saying words. You're terrified of the impact on politics when the truth isn't censored. I'm offended by your weakness," Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene challenged the liberals wanting to protect Twitter from Musk.
Twitter has been unapologetically censoring and suppressing conservative voices online. All in the name of saving free speech and democracy. Musk has punctured that delusional world of self-importance and righteousness. "The panic coming from blue-check media after Elon Musk's offer to buy Twitter is the fear of losing the ability to censor conservatives online and silence free speech they don't like," said Representative Darrell Issa of California.
The liberals want more 'content moderation' (read censoring) on Twitter. As columnist Boot claims that is needed for democracy to survive. That, unfortunately, means there shall be no opinion/debate/discourse on a whole lot of important issues -- be it vaccines, mask mandate, gender issues, race matters, policing, mail-in ballots.
Aggressive censoring on Twitter may help the liberals win elections. But that policy disenfranchises a huge chunk of the population. The liberal overlords at Twitter and the blue-tick intelligentsia have won battles for the Democrats but they have undermined the spirit of democracy. Elon Musk was mildly pointing out this paradox when he said Twitter was failing free speech principles and undermining democracy.
Negation of First Amendment
Musk's intervention came at a time when Twitter is poised to lean more radical left under the leadership of Parag Agarwal. The new CEO had in the past equated white people to racism, called religion a pyramid scheme and negated the First Amendment of the US constitution, which guarantees free speech.
"Our [Twitter's] role is not to be bound by the First Amendment, but our role is to serve a healthy public conversation and our moves are reflective of things that we believe lead to a healthier public conversation," Agarwal said in an interview to MIT Technology Review in November last year.
He is unabashed in admitting that his priority is not free speech or the First Amendment. Instead, he offers to provide a 'healthy public conversation' on the platform. What is healthy will be decided by him, through the prism of his perceptions.
That much for the liberal advocacy for free speech.
Republicans were angered, rightly so. "The choice of Twitter's new CEO is extremely troubling and cements the company's intent to silence opposing view points. Mr. Agrawal has called religion a pyramid scheme and questioned if all white people are racist. These views are not normalâthey are extremely radical," said Senator Marsha Blackburn.
Effectively, Twitter's leadership reserves the right to censor opinions for the sake of keeping the platform 'healthy'. And they get to define what's healthy. Free speech and First Amendment can wait.
Unsurprisingly, Democrats would like the chicanery to go on. "I'm going to be honest, Elon Musk is a danger to Twitter and to freedom of speech," Democratic strategist Danielle Moodie says.
As of now, the Twitter board is happily playing along. They have pushed the poison pill down the throat of the shareholders, without a thought of their fiduciary responsibility, as they chose to pursue the ideological mission.
Elon Musk, on his part, can feel satisfied that he has administered the Twitter board a 'free speech shock pill' instead.
(The author is Managing Editor at International Business Times. Views are personal)