It honestly never occurred to me that when the child points out the emperor has no clothes, everyone else in the crowd would immediately call his nakedness a nothingburger, because "duh everyone already knew that". I doubt Hans Christian Andersen could have seen that one coming either.

As for Musk moving the needle, I think Twitter was a significant accelerant of institutional capture. There's a reason Bari Weiss said when she quit the New York Times that Twitter had become the unofficial editor-in-chief of the newsroom. Twitter was also where cancel culture mobs generally did their crowdsourcing/recruiting. Take woke Twitter out of the equation and the pressure could very well ease on other institutions.

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Dec 14, 2022Liked by Sarah Haider

Speaking of lies or misinformation, one of the best of Sam Harris’arguments - I think - was “why hasn’t 4 chan become the public square?”. The fascinating subject for me is that being First amendment absolutists doesn’t solve the issue. I have no answer in my pocket, besides the fact that no opinion should be censored, nor people be persecuted for it. But decisions still need to be taken and principles being cleared if Twitter has decided now to ban Alex Jones and Kanye West. (Sorry if I moved away from Sarah’s post.)

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Free speech is one of those difficult subjects; at least for me it is. I really want to be absolutist about it. We should trust each other, or at least the majority of others, to be able to distinguish good ideas from bad. Sound arguments should win out. Lies will be exposed. But it's hard for me when I look at what actually happens to have much faith in others.

The 2020 election is a good example of misinformation circulating and leading public hazard. I don't necessarily consider myself "the managerial class" but, yeah, I question the capacity for reason of a lot of my fellow citizens. Had the Trump team's claims been denied oxygen it is likely we would not have had January 6th. I *wish* there was more suppression of those ideas.

Of course, there is no one I trust to determine what is proper speech; certainly not the folks running Twitter, past *and* present. I don't think for a second that Musk won't find it to his advantage to silence voices that he perceives as harmful to his own interests and I seriously doubt he is going to be upfront about his policies and motivations. Human nature being what it is, there is no one I would trust like this. Myself included. (Then again, I am kept honest in this regard by lack of any power or influence.)

Ultimately I guess I do favor (almost) absolute free speech but I shudder at the chaos it fuels. And I will not be surprised if someday some champion of free speech, having gained the levers of power, decides free speech is maybe not such a good idea after all. But it's been fun while it lasted.

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