Multiple outlets hit Musk for ‘censorship’ despite their own push to censor ideas they disagree with

May 19, 2023

By Tim Worstall

The progressive media have reported that Elon Musk is something of a hypocrite.

Musk agreed to limit free speech on Twitter in Turkey, even as he insists on more free speech on Twitter in the U.S. It’s not Musk being the odd one here. But the Daily Dot and Vice are trying to make the same case.

Turkey is having an election. The current president has placed limits on what may be said publicly. Now we might think those are bad limits. But Turkey is another country and has its own set of laws. If we are in Turkey, we have to obey Turkish law – if we do business there we must do the same. To claim that foreign countries can’t have their own law is to be a colonialist – those foreign people must do as we say, not as they wish to do.

So, obviously, Twitter must obey Turkish law about what may be said on Twitter in Turkey. The only other alternative is not to have Twitter in Turkey.

 Free Speech Warrior Elon Musk Weaker on Government Censorship Than the Twitter Execs He Fired

The problem with that headline from Vice is think through the alternative. Twitter thinks it doesn’t have to obey the law in the countries it works in. So, does Twitter have to obey U.S. law? On speech, obscenity, libel and so on? Of course it does, we all agree it must too. So why should Twitter in Turkey be any different?

The Daily Dot takes this one step further:

Elon Musk’s ‘free speech’ paradise turned Twitter into a hellscape. Twitter became Elon Musk’s personal sh**posting ground while caving to Turkey’s political censorship demands.

That conflates two different sets of rules about free speech. Musk has relaxed the rules on what may be said on Twitter. Sure, he’s obeying Turkish law in Turkey – what else do we expect? But he’s also obeying U.S. law in the U.S. U.S. law does not say you can’t sh**post. It doesn’t say you cannot question masks and vaccines, It doesn’t say you must agree with “the science” on climate change. U.S. law doesn’t say you can’t deadname someone.

U.S. law actually says that private companies can pretty much do what they want concerning speech and subject to those usual rules about incitement to immediate violence, obscenity and defamation then government “shall make no laws” restricting what people can say. Musk is actually taking Twitter closer to what US law is – just as he’s agreeing to abide by Turkish law.

This brings us to their actual complaint: that the woke and progressive ended up with censorship control over Twitter. Not the U.S. government at all, but the woke and progressive. They’re now losing that control – Twitter now is much closer to what U.S. law says people are allowed to say instead of what the woke and progressive think they should be allowed to say. And that’s what the complaint is.

Having had power over the public conversation the woke and progressive don’t have that power. Of course they’re complaining.

What they want is George Orwell’s definition of Newspeak. If it’s not possible to say “bad things” then no one will have those bad thoughts. To be particularly objectionable in the current times, if the only way we can refer to the chemical castration of kids is as “gender-confirming health care” then no one will oppose the idea of puberty delaying and then cross-sex hormones. Because the ability to even express the idea is gone as we’ve not the words nor platform to be able to express the idea. The progressives did have that control over Twitter. Musk has denied it to them. That’s why they’re complaining.

What the progressives are complaining about is not Turkish government censorship, it’s the lack of their old ability to censor the American conversation by controlling what may be allowed to be said on Twitter.


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