Opinion | Elon Musk Believes in a Wrongful Interpretation of Free Speech

Zakary Peterson, Co-Editor

On Nov. 28 Elon Musk tweeted “if free speech is lost even in America, tyranny is all that lies ahead.” Although freedom of speech can have a very complicated and intricate meaning that differs from person to person; the core idea in Musk’s view is clear through his tweets and the actions he takes at Twitter.

He has reinstated accounts of many conservatives on the site such as former president Donald Trump who incited hate speech that led to a violent attack on the capital in Jan. 2021, Marjorie Taylor Greene who spread misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine, and Kanye West who has stated multiple anti-Semitic comments among others.

What Musk faults at is the concept that free speech is not the same as allowing and promoting the freedom to lie and the freedom to say things without consequences. Without protections for actual proven facts then lies such as misogyny, racism, and other dangerous content can spread and manifest into the minds of people to lead them to an AI algorithm suggesting further wrongful content.

This is especially important to that of the younger population who are still developing their mind on how to distinguish between reality and deception and can have impacts such as performing worse in school. But, when a base of deceptions creates the foundation of younger minds; it will be much more difficult to pull them out of the chokehold they are held in by the liars. The line of where to stop speech that could be harmful has long been debated in the U.S. and is connected in many ways to supreme court cases that have determined how far the government goes to prosecute certain types of speech.

According to Oyez, in the 1969 supreme court case Brandenburg v. Ohio; the unanimous decision made was that ‘speech can be prohibited if it is “directed at inciting or producing imminent lawless action.”‘ This type of unconstitutional speech was the reason that Donald Trump was suspended indefinitely last year and with Musk reinstating people like him; further violence and hate speech should be expected—and will likely be allowed—as Musk calls himself a “free speech abolitionist.”