Until last week, billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk was merely the savior of free speech. Poised to buy full ownership of Twitter, he stood on the verge of liberating the influential social media platform from pervasive, politically-biased censorship by its woke employees.
As a senior engineer at Twitter candidly admitted on video, his colleagues do “not believe in free speech” and are “actually censoring the right and not the left.”
Leftist attitudes soured further when Musk posted a series of tweets criticizing Twitter’s old management for its aggressive wokeism and apparent manipulation of algorithms to control the flow of information.
He suggested significant layoffs, hinted that former president Donald J. Trump might be allowed to return to the platform, and revealed that he will from now on vote for Republicans instead of Democrats because he believes the Democrats have become “the party of division & hate.”
Powerless against Musk’s billions, and confronted by mounting evidence of unsavory practices at Twitter, cranky legacy media scolds could only cringe at the prospect of fellow citizens exercising their civil rights and indulge in unconvincing bouts of reductio ad Hitlerum whenever Musk’s name was mentioned.
Musk is a smart man and knew what was coming next. On the same day he signaled his new political allegiance, he presciently tweeted “political attacks on me will escalate dramatically in coming months.”
As if on cue, they arrived within a matter of hours. The next day a “friend” of a former SpaceX flight attendant divulged that Musk’s space exploration company had paid $250,000 to settle a sexual harassment claim brought by the former employee, who had signed a nondisclosure and nondisparagement agreement in exchange for the payoff.
According to the allegations, in 2016 Musk exposed himself to the flight attendant during an in-flight massage and suggested that he would give her a horse if she sexually gratified him.
There is no evidence that the alleged incident ever happened. Musk admitted no amount of guilt as a condition of the settlement, and has consistently denied any wrongdoing.
This would not have saved him in an America where #MeToo continued to be a potent force, however. In the sanctimonious “reckoning” foisted upon our society by social justice zealots hysterically seeking revenge for Trump’s election five years ago, Musk would have been presumed guilty, forced out of his companies, erased from public recognition, compelled to issue a platitudinous apology to all those whom he may have hurt, and vaporized out of public life.
Twitter would have been spared his purported right-wing whims, horses-for-happy-end quid pro quos, and toxic masculinity. More importantly, it would have continued to function as an unchecked censor of disfavored people and views.
That certainly seemed to be the intention of the leaker, who moralized that “someone with that level of power causing that kind of harm and then throwing some money at the situation, that’s not accountability.”
But none of the usual consequences materialized. The magnitude of the Twitter deal’s free speech implications, together with Musk’s unabashed political statements on the eve of the revelation, left little doubt about what this #MeToo eruption really was — a desperate attempt to blacken his name and possibly prevent a massive liberation of free speech in an important public forum.
Musk has remained defiant and connected the dots for anyone dense enough not to see the obvious and predictable. “The attacks against me should be viewed through a political lens,” he tweeted to the general public, “this is their standard (despicable) playbook — but nothing will deter me from fighting for a good future and your right to free speech.”
He offered multiple logical analyses of the allegations — if he’s a sexual harasser, why did nobody say so at any other time in his 30-year career? Why did the accusation only surface at the most politically sensitive moment of his life, and not years ago, when the harassment allegedly happened?
Astutely realizing that tyranny cannot withstand ridicule, Musk proceeded to mock the allegation. “Finally, we get to use Elongate as a scandal name,” he tweeted, cheekily observing, since he was alleged to have flashed a full erection at the complainant, that the word “elongate” was “kinda perfect” to describe his current problem.
He challenged his accuser — “the liar” and “far left activist,” as he called her — to “describe just one thing” on his body “that isn’t known to the public.” He also doubled down on legal protection, announcing a new “hardcore litigation department” at Tesla that will “directly initiate & execute lawsuits.”
This is the finest defense against defamation we have these days, but Musk also benefits from the parallel drama of Johnny Depp’s $50 million defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife Amber Heard, whom Musk coincidentally dated just after she split from Depp. For all its nauseating vulgarity, the Hollywood court battle, in which Musk’s name has come up, has independently cast powerful doubt on the premise that all women should be believed.
A few leftist commentators have argued that Musk manipulated the timeline and declared himself a Republican opportunistically, only after he learned the leak was coming. But hardly anyone of consequence is convinced.
Musk’s companies show no sign of any shareholder revolt or human resources intervention. Nobody in the legacy media has urged Musk’s destruction. No activists have emerged to femsplain the discredited canard that women never lie about sexual harassment.
Mainstream outlets have cited expert opinion that the allegation will have little or no effect on the Twitter purchase. Even The New York Times has finally admitted that #MeToo has seen “muddled cases” of “overreach and backlash” that might have been handled wrongly.
The former paper of record’s new opinion writer Pamela Paul admits “we still haven’t thought enough about how to handle all accusations with proportion and fairness.” The plain truth is that many no longer believe them any more than they would believe witchcraft allegations leveled against the good people of Salem, Massachusetts.
And for that we have Elon Musk to thank.
Paul du Quenoy is president of the Palm Beach Freedom Institute. He holds a Ph.D. in history from Georgetown University. Read more — Here.
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