- Free speech advocates, including journalists, academics and culture-leaders, join in open letter to Elon Musk on his 1st anniversary as “X” CEO
- Letter, hosted at https://openlettertoelon.org, thanks Musk for free speech commitment, seeks further support for individuals who fall foul of government censorship
LONDON (27th October 2023) – Over 50 international free speech advocates, including many high-profile X (formerly Twitter) users, have united in signing an open letter to Elon Musk, on the one-year anniversary of him assuming the role of CEO of the platform.
In August 2023, Musk famously tweeted that he would fund legal support for those who face discrimination by employers for Twitter/X posts. The letter thanks Musk for this offer of support, and requests that the same be extended to those who have suffered censorship at the hands of government authorities for peaceful expression on Twitter/X. The letter states:
“As you rightfully have spotlighted, threats to free expression often come at the hands of businesses treating employees unfairly for sharing their views.
Even more insidious is the mounting trend of government suppression of speech with the imposition of serious penalties, and even criminal sanctions, for free expression.”
The letter requests that Musk “harness X to make clear that no one should be punished under the law for peaceful expression on X or any platform,” by
1) designating funds to support legal action challenging state-sponsored censorship of views on X;
2) create an intake mechanism on X whereby individuals can apply for this support; and
3) host X Spaces to bring worldwide attention to censorship cases involving both governments and the workplace.
United for Free Speech
The letter, now open for public signatories, has thus far been signed by Cambridge University academic Dr. James Orr; Babylon Bee CEO Seth Dillon; Professor Eric Kaufmann of the University of Buckingham; NYT bestselling author Rod Dreher; Dutch commentator Eva Vlaardingerbroek; broadcaster Calvin Robinson; Toby Young (General Secretary, Free Speech Union), Kristen Waggoner (President & CEO, Alliance Defending Freedom), and Paul Coleman (Executive Director, ADF International), amongst various others.
“Free speech is the cornerstone of a free society. Unfortunately, we see state-driven censorship on the rise across the world with individuals being punished at the hands of government for peaceful expression, including for what they say on Twitter/X. This trend not only makes self-government impossible, but it impairs true social progress,” commented Kristen Waggonner, CEO of the Alliance Defending Freedom.
“Elon Musk has shown rare leadership on the issue of free speech. We hope he will build on his excellent initiatives to protect speech, including by broadening his offer of support for those who fall prey to unfair treatment in the workplace to include those suffering government censorship for what they post on Twitter. Fearless and free debate curbs authoritarianism and allows all of us to pursue truth. On the one year anniversary of taking the helm of Twitter, we celebrate Elon’s commitment to the marketplace of ideas and ask for his help in standing for those facing government censorship,” she concluded.
As highlighted on the letter’s website, the signatories “are united in their commitment to free speech, and represent a diverse range of viewpoints. We affirm that it is only by free and open debate that we will be able to tackle the issues of our day—a prerequisite for a flourishing society. It is in this spirit that we join together with this letter to support a free and open public square.”
The appeal to Musk highlights various unfolding examples of government censorship across the world. In Finland, Päivi Räsänen, a longstanding Member of Parliament and grandmother is currently awaiting a verdict on criminal charges of “hate speech” on the basis of a Bible-verse tweet she posted in 2019 questioning her Church’s sponsorship of a Pride event.
In Mexico, two public figures, Rodrigo Iván Cortés and Gabriel Quadri, have been convicted of “gender-based political violence,” and placed on an offenders’ register, for Twitter posts expressing their views on biological sex. Both have been ordered to publish a court-written apology on X every day for 30 days, 3 times a day, in what the open letter labels “a form of public humiliation”.
“No one should be punished under the law for peaceful expression. Ideas should be debated with more ideas, not attacked by the state. Yet across the world, we see increasing evidence of government censorship with very real consequences for people that seek to peacefully exercise their right to free expression. In the West, speech increasingly is targeted by ‘hate speech’” laws, and on the other side of the coin, in other regions, blasphemy laws target minority groups who speak out against state-approved views.
Musk has elevated the standards of X as the world’s meeting place in the digital age. The significance of a free and open platform for sharing information has never been more evident than in recent days. His generous offer to support X users who face discrimination at the hands of their employers is commendable. Our request is that he expands this offer to meet the growing challenge of state censorship – as demonstrated in the shocking cases of Paivi Rasanen, Gabriel Quadri, and Rodrigo Iván Cortés,” commented Paul Coleman, Executive Director of ADF International, author of “Censored,” and a signatory to the open letter.
The letter is now open to the general public for signatures and is available at https://openlettertoelon.org/