A social media platform’s policies are good if the most extreme 10% on left and right are equally unhappy–Elon Musk
To be perfectly clear, I’m not a diehard Elon Musk fan.
He’s an interesting fellow who doesn’t fit into any convenient box that we’d like to put him into. We in the UK used to call such folks “eccentrics” and we cherished their brains, their iconoclasm and their unpredictability. Back in those days, the fact that one of our beloved and very bright whackjobs went off the reservation on an issue or two didn’t matter much, and didn’t result in our throwing him or her under the bus to be cancelled forever, because he or she had failed, in a particular instance, some sort of purity test.
Right now, most on the right seem to think that Elon Musk is a hero and their kind of guy, because: free speech or something. And, as things play out on Twitter, there may be, and I do hope to see, some improvements there. Yay, Elon!
But, I don’t forget that in other matters his political views are all over the map: A ‘libertarian’ who’s taken billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded subsidies for his businesses. Good on the Covid lockdowns. Squishy on immigration. Excellent on right-to-work. Loves the Paris Climate Accords. Calls for increased domestic fossil-fuel energy production, even though such a thing seems to run counter to his own interests.
Sometimes, we just have to take the bad with the good, whether it’s in the pages of National Review, in the halls of Congress, or–shock, horror–in the realm of social media.
In addition, I worry that he’s overreactive and inclined to fly off the handle. The most famous example of this is probably his off-the-cuff decision to cancel an order for a Tesla from a venture capitalist who criticized him on Medium. (Free speech, much? C’mon, man!) Most particularly, I remember his intervention with the soccer boys of Thailand, and the retributive, petty, and ridiculous assertions Musk made against another British Commonwealth citizen, Vernon Unsworth. (I was in Thailand at the time this occurred. Musk was wrong.) We can decide such things don’t matter (all that much) at this point, but we probably shouldn’t pretend they never occurred or that they don’t raise questions in our minds about Musk’s intellectual honesty and rigorousness when they do.
Nevertheless, I’m prepared to grant even emotive, emotional, and narcissistic drama queens their free speech rights. Lord knows, social media is full of such people, and perhaps it even attracts and enables them. (Newsflash: Personal experience tells me it does. LOL.)
Still, and at this point, and in the interests of cleaning up Twitter, I’m willing to overlook Elon Musk’s eccentricities, his many far-from-conservative ideas, and his increasingly bizarre taste in women, and his children’s names, and his sometimes over-the-top reactions to current events. Hey–at least he has seven children! That’s conservative, right? Who cares how they got here or who they belong to? Let’s move on!
So I am.
And yet. I’m not quite willing to set him up for canonization, or to exempt myself from the right–or the ability–to criticize his next move, simply because I might approve of his last.
Like the rest of us, Elon Musk is a work in progress. I hope, when he’s fully baked, he doesn’t disappoint.
Meanwhile, if he really does intend to piss off both the most extreme lunatics on the Left, as well as those on the Right, I’ll be cheering from the stands.
Bring on the popcorn!