Academics Fear the Terror of Free Speech as a Liberated Twitter Looms – Opinion

As you’re surely aware, reactions to Elon Musk’s Twitter bid have been blazing.

And in the realm of academia, there’s been no shortage of flames.

Recent content from The College Fix featured instructor responses in several news outlets.

Hofstra University Professor Kara Alaimo said in a CNN opinion piece that more speech means less speech.

Her headline inquired, “Who Will Be the First to Abandon Elon Musk’s Twitter?”

The way she figures it, open expression “may be the death knell for the social media platform.”

But there’s an upside:

[I]This could encourage other social networks to be created that provide safer, more healthful places for everyone.

Which alternative platforms are safer? If you’re the “misogyny and hate” type, such wasn’t made clear.

She also has an idea of which users she will first escape from:

[T]People of color and women are most likely to be among the first ones to flee. … According to the United Nations, at least three quarters of the victims of online hate in many countries are members of minority groups.

Disaster awaits:

[I] predict that allowing harmful forms of “free speech” — like misogyny and hate — on Twitter will actually have the effect of silencing many people and will be disastrous for the social network. That’s because thoughtful users aren’t going to voluntarily keep using a platform on which they’re bombarded with abuse.

Gawker founding editor — and NYU Adjunct Professor — Elizabeth Spiers is deeply concerned. She made that clear via her New York Times article “Making Twitter More of a Cesspool Makes No Business Sense.” Similar to Kara, she pointed out that online matters of menace aren’t “uncommon experiences for women and minorities who speak in public.”

Of course, getting rid of policies that restrict hate speech will likely affect women and minorities much more than it does white men like Mr. Musk, and unlike him, most people on the receiving end of threats and harassment can’t afford personal security. Twitter’s rules already allow for a broad range of abuse, much of which falls into a kind of gray area between personal insult and harassment.

Elizabeth bemoaned the move to allow freedom speech, but then she seemed to insist that free speech was already permitted:

What exactly does he believe can’t be said on the platform right now? It certainly doesn’t take long to find discredited race science, arguments that women are intellectually inferior, antisemitism, defenses of white supremacism and transphobic comments that remain on the platform even under current policy.

Still, she suspects she knows what extra level of liberty Elon’s eyeing:

You can easily assume that Musk’s support for banned speech is even worse. As the comedian Michael Che put it on “Saturday Night Live,” the $44 billion deal shows “how badly white guys want to use the N-word.”

The bottom line

If Mr. Musk allows Twitter to become a cesspool of hate speech and disinformation, he’ll test the risk adversity of the platform’s advertisers, and it’s likely that he’ll find himself with fewer brands that are willing to take the risk of appearing in people’s polluted feeds.

In The Guardian, Vanderbilt University Law Professor Rebecca Allensworth called Elon’s buy “troubling.”

Syracuse University’s Kyla Garrett-Wagner decried future Twitter as “the proverbial Wild West” that “doesn’t represent minority voices.”

More of the same at The College Fix: Academics protest an idea through fear and warning. That idea is free speech, and that idea was once called “America.”

We’ve somehow shifted so culturally far, the mere concept for which our forefathers fought is now portrayed as an evil element.

The sense we have of virtue is completely inverted

The notion of Americans protesting free speech might’ve been inconceivable mere decades ago. But the past week’s outcry isn’t a product of sudden change. Our national view has been changed from the roots and has grown. One generation was conditioned to be afraid of freedom and love its opposite.

And in an arena which once existed to birth enlightenment — by way of research and debate — open dialogue is now replaced by ideological conformity. Or, at least, “safety” from words.

Words — those things which, not long ago, could “never hurt” you.

Many headlines in recent years have shown that higher education does not allow for free speech. That is what some of the leaders within the higher education sector want for the public.

Free speech can be hurtful? It is without a doubt. People who fled oppression long ago knew that there are worse things. The inability to exercise it.

That perspective is my personal preference over the contemporarily coddled one.



You can find more of my content here:

Princeton white women will forever be ashamed of their whiteness, Professor tells them

Top College — and Former Female Seminary — Tells Science Professors to Never Say ‘Woman’ or ‘Female’

Democrat Legislators Want Children Taught Sex, Specifically ‘Pleasure-Based Sexual Relations’

Check out all of my RedState work Click here.

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