Free speech attacked in poor attempt at Elon Musk hit piece

November 29, 2022

By Tim Worstall

Vice is simply desperate to find some reason why Elon Musk’s idea of free speech in the town square that is Twitter is a bad idea, to the point of inventing things to attack him for.

The use of the number 88 for example, or the use of Hitler as an example of the sort of things politicians should not do. Yes, Musk is being attacked by Vice for using Hitler as an example of what not to do. Because as we know, if you can claim someone uses the word Hitler, then you’ve won – among preteens and journalists, perhaps.

This really is the most desperate stretching:

“Musk has welcomed neo-Nazis back onto the platform, engaged with them on his timeline, and posted multiple tweets that appeal directly to them.”

That’s part of the headline — as if Musk is advocating fuelling up the panzers and heading east. The actual examples are profoundly silly.

“Musk’s pattern of normalizing far-right content stretches back to well before his takeover of Twitter. Last February, Musk tweeted a meme that compared Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Hitler.”

The actual tweet is here (apologies, finding an English language source for it is difficult given varied cancellations). Clearly and obviously Musk has used Hitler as an example of what not to do, of what is bad politics and bad behavior. He then compared Trudeau to that bad behavior and suggests that not doing that would be a good idea. How this gets translated into being supportive of the far-right and Hitler apologists is uncertain. Uncertain until we get to the other example that is:

On Saturday Musk responded to a random account with the username @Rainmaker1973 that tweeted that the unique biodiversity of Madagascar is the result of being isolated from other land masses for 88 million years,

Musk, who hadn’t been tagged in the post, responded by asking: “I wonder what Earth will be like 88 million years from now.”

While it’s unclear whether Musk knows that in extremist circles, 88 is a well-known code for “Heil Hitler” (H being the 8th letter of the alphabet), his followers certainly took his use of the number as a sign he was speaking to them.

Oh, good grief. Madagascar was indeed cut off that 88 million years ago. From Wikipedia: “and Madagascar separated from the Indian landmass about 84-92 million years ago”. Halve the difference in that range and the number is?

Vice ranks at 97 for news and media outlets in the US. It gains some 27.2 million visits a month from that position. The magazine also has a distribution of some 900,000 and the TV channel reaches 60 million American homes on cable.

These claims about Musk and the far-right are ludicrous. That second is around the standard of Pops saying, “We gotta go to the store” and the three-year-old howling with laughter and a “Daddy said wee!” We deserve better journalism than this. Actually, we deserve some journalism rather than this.


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