Musk's Version of 'Free Speech' Looks A Lot Like Hate Speech
Early on Wednesday, Elon Musk tweeted an explosive defense of the police officer who fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown, a Black man who was unarmed, in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014. He later deleted the offensive message.
The police officer was "exonerated," according to Musk, and the story surrounding the incident was a "fabrication."
The discovery of several Twitter t-shirts with the slogan "Stay Woke" that were printed in the wake of the Ferguson rebellion inside the company's San Francisco headquarters is thought to have inspired Musk's tweet.
These shirts were created by the "Blackbirds" of Twitter. In April of 2016, when Blackbirds first began selling the shirts, their goal was to "support and encourage diversity at Twitter, create a more inclusive work environment, and improve communities outside of Twitter."
Although his friend, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, once wore the shirt at the Code Conference in 2016 during a panel on the Black Lives Matter movement, Musk obviously tweeted the shirts to mock them.
A tweet that Elon Musk, a billionaire, sent early on Wednesday before deleting.
A link to the Department of Justice report on the shooting death of Michael Brown was included in the tweet. Early on Wednesday, Musk deleted his commentary-filled tweet, but he then re-posted the DOJ report without it.
The shooting death of Michael Brown and the local authorities' refusal to press charges against Darren Wilson, the police officer who fired the fatal shot, sparked tumultuous demonstrations in the summer of 2014 and helped bring attention to the epidemic of Black men and women being killed by police.
To put it mildly, the militarized response on protest that summer was brutal. Furthermore, none of those facts were made up.
But right-wing commentators relentlessly attacked one of the movement's catchphrases, "Hands up, don't shoot," in an effort to clear the police officer, just like Musk continues to do now. Brown allegedly had his hands up at the time of the shooting, but the U.S. Department of Justice's investigators didn't think this was plausible. Brown was at least six times shot by Wilson, who maintained that he was acting in self-defense because Brown had come at him.
It's noteworthy that Musk wants to reopen the wounds from that summer, either to stir up more controversy on his social media platform in the hopes that it will draw attention to a website that is losing advertisers or simply to show his right-wing supporters that he is truly one of them.
Whatever his intentions, Musk has demonstrated that the worst individuals on the earth are the ones he badly wants to approve of.
For the record, the Department of Justice published two reports about the Ferguson, Missouri, police in 2015. The study from the DOJ's Civil Rights Division revealed that the Ferguson Police Department had a systemic problem with consistently targeting Black people for the most insignificant of "crimes," but Musk only tweeted about the homicide of Michael Brown.
Black people made up 85% of car stops, 90% of citations, and 93% of arrests in Ferguson from 2010 to 2012 despite the city's 67% Black population in the early 2010s.
Musk is being painfully clear about who is welcome on the new Twitter. And these are individuals who speak and look like Musk.