This post appears here courtesy of the John Locke Foundation
. The author of this post is Jon Sanders
Earlier this year, the censor-happy Left were growing increasingly alarmed that Elon Musk would buy Twitter and restore its former free-speech policy. What if, the fear was, Twitter could no longer slap an ad hoc content label on someone's tweet and then remove their account? So I wrote an article to assuage those fears and tell them they could even keep the labels - and "use them to help guide fellow frustrated censors in this uncertain new land of speech freedom."
Now that Musk has bought Twitter (CNN's reaction: "Musk could singlehandedly upend the media and political ecosystem, reshape public discourse online"
- of course, CNN may be particularly upset given the prospect of Missouri v. Biden revealing the depths of collusion by the Biden administration and social media, including Twitter, to silence the government's critics), my advice on potential new pro-speech labels could be useful:
If Musk does what Twitter's gormless content stiflers fear the most - in the words of a Babylon Bee headline, "Twitter Workers Worried Elon Musk Will Turn Their Free Speech Platform Into Platform That Allows Free Speech" - what will they do? Will they resort to going door-to-door, screaming "SHUT UP!" at people, or will they be seen on street corners behind crudely drawn signs reading "WILL HIDE FOLLOWER COUNTS FOR FOOD"?
I suggest they stay put. In fact, I propose they keep applying labels, only now use them to help guide fellow frustrated censors in this uncertain new land of speech freedom. Here are a few they could adopt:
- "Get the facts about free speech. Civil society is better with this attitude attributed to Voltaire: 'I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.'"
- "Misleading? Maybe. Maybe not. The free exchange of ideas helps people like you and the speaker reason your way to the truth. Healthy debate sharpens your understanding and leads to better ideas. It also teaches you how to handle disagreements like an adult."
- "Some or all of the content shared in this Tweet conflicts with guidance from experts and questions current science. Questioning science is how scientific inquiry starts. Even if it turns out to be wrong, you should be thankful."
- "Disinformation? Alert: The answer to false, misleading, hateful, or just plain wrong speech is not censorship, but better speech."
- "This claim about _____ is disputed. But c'mon; let's not pretend that's unusual. Find one claim out there that isn't disputed by someone. Calm down."
- "'Sticks and stones' advisory: Depending on their size and velocity, they can break bones. A Tweet, however, is just words on a screen. Toughen up, cupcake."
- "This Tweet impacts our 'De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum' policy. Loosely translated, it means there's no accounting for tastes. That means you don't need to get bent out of shape over a matter of opinion. Chill."
- "Want to review your response before Tweeting? You don't always need to get the last word. People like that are annoying."
- "This Tweet falls under our 'Res Ipsa Loquitur' policy. Humanity's fate does not hinge upon whether you rebut something everyone can see is ridiculous. The thing speaks for itself."
- "Learn why First Amendment advocates consider freedom of speech specifically to protect really dumb, wrong, or vile speech. OK, we can't keep it to ourselves. It's because the only true test of whether speech is truly free is if you can get away with saying something stupid and offensive. After all, no one is going to have conniptions over you saying something pleasant - well, other than 'Merry Christmas.'"