Elon Musk said that X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, would sue organizations funded by financier George Soros that allegedly pushed for a crackdown on free speech.
Mr. Musk, who bought Twitter last year in a pledge to make the platform a bastion of free speech, said in a post on X on Aug. 23 that he agrees with the view expressed by investigative journalist Michael Shellenberger that George Soros-funded NGOs have been falsely claiming that “hate incidents” are on the rise in order to push restrictions of free expression.
“Politicians & George Soros-funded NGOs say ‘hate incidents’ are rising, but they’re not,” Mr. Shellenberger wrote in his post. “The data show the opposite: higher-than-ever and rising levels of tolerance of minorities. The reason they’re spreading hate misinformation is to justify a draconian crackdown on free speech.”
Mr. Musk reacted to the post by signaling his agreement and pledging to sue.
“Exactly,” Mr. Musk wrote. “X will be filing legal action to stop this. Can’t wait for discovery to start!”
In making his assertion, Mr. Shellenberger shared an article by Irish journalist Ben Scallan, who wrote that NGOs backed by Open Society Foundations (which was founded by Mr. Soros), are pushing a “censorship agenda” in Ireland and Scotland that includes police searches of homes and personal devices like homes.
Mr. Scallan’s article does not specify which Soros-funded NGOs are supposedly engaged in pushing a “censorship agenda.” Neither did Mr. Shellenberger nor Mr. Musk.
The Epoch Times has reached out to Open Society Foundations with a request for comment on the claims and Mr. Musk’s legal threat.
Mr. Scallan’s article says that Irish leaders, including Justice Minister Helen McEntee, have asserted that hate-based offenses are on the rise in Ireland. They point to a reported 29 percent increase in hate crimes in 2022 compared to the previous year.
However, Mr. Scallan argues that an increase in reporting of hate offenses doesn’t necessarily mean an actual increase in hate crimes, in part because the threshold for classifying something as a hate offense is low, requiring little evidence beyond someone’s claim.
He wrote that the police and government in Ireland have been urging people to report hate incidents for years, and the police have set a goal to increase the number of reported hate crimes, which may have contributed to the reported increase in hate-based offenses.
The journalist also highlighted research indicating that people today are more likely to label things as “harmful” and “hateful” than in the past, suggesting a broader cultural shift in perceptions about what constitutes such an offense.
Mr. Scallan, who is a mixed-race Irish journalist, said there’s no good evidence supporting the claim that there’s been an increase in hate crimes in Ireland, particularly against migrants.
He argues that the heightened focus on hate speech might serve as a pretext for the Irish government’s push to enact strict hate speech laws, which would criminalize possessing “hateful material” and impose penalties for refusal to provide device passwords to authorities.
The proposed law (pdf), called the Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offenses) Bill 2022, has been criticized for potentially restricting free speech and reversing the burden of proof, placing the onus on the accused to prove their innocence.
Ms. McEntee, the Irish prime minister, has advocated for the measure.
“It’s hard to believe that despite increasing instances of hate crime and general support from the public to criminalize such acts, Ireland doesn’t yet have hate crime laws in place and will be one of the last countries in Europe to enact such legislation,” she said in a speech in mid-June.
During recent debate on the bill in the Irish Senate in June, independent senator Ronan Mullen questioned whether the law would go too far, for instance, by punishing people for debating gender identity.
”Will mocking memes be tolerated?” he asked, per British news outlet The Telegraph.
“Will carrying a placard stating ‘Men cannot breastfeed’ warrant a hate-speech investigation or up to five years imprisonment, a lifelong label as a criminal hater and all of the stigma and life limitation that goes with that? Nobody actually knows,” he said, per the publication.
Ireland’s Department of Justice told The Telegraph that the bar for prosecution under the proposed law would be “very high” and that “criminal incitement to hatred will not be an area that anybody will stray into by accident.”
The threat of legal action by Mr. Musk comes after X filed a lawsuit against the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), alleging that the nonprofit was engaged in a “scare campaign to drive away advertisers” from the platform by making false or misleading claims about the amount of content on X that was supposedly “promoting hate.”
Mr. Musk’s latest comments about taking Soros-funded NGOs into his crosshairs for legal action follow critical remarks he made about the billionaire financier, who has been a common target of right-wing criticism.
Soros as ‘Magneto’
In a recent interview with Mr. Musk, CNBC reporter David Faber pressed the Tesla chief on a controversial tweet in which he compared Mr. Soros to the comic book arch-villain Magneto.
“He wants to erode the very fabric of civilization. Soros hates humanity,” Mr. Musk said in his tweet.
Asked about it during the mid-May interview, Mr. Musk said he stood by this opinion and suggested that the reaction to his posting his views is overblown.
“Calm down people, let’s not make a federal case out of it,” Mr. Musk said of the online outrage expressed over the tweet in some circles.
Pressed on whether he hadn’t considered the impact of his controversial tweets on the bottom lines of companies he helms (as advertisers might turn away) Mr. Musk said he refuses to be silenced by the threat of dwindling profits.
“I’ll say what I want, and if the consequence of that is losing money, so be it,” he said in the interview with Mr. Faber.
“This is freedom of speech,” Mr. Musk replied. “I’m allowed to say what I want to say.”
During the interview, Mr. Faber, in more general terms, challenged the purposefulness of Mr. Musk’s penchant for posting controversial viewpoints.
“You do some tweets that seem to be … conspiracy theories,” Mr. Faber said in the interview.
“Well, yes, but I mean honestly … some of these conspiracy theories have turned out to be true,” Mr. Musk replied. “Like the Hunter Biden laptop.”
After Mr. Faber conceded that this was “true,” Mr. Musk elaborated on the scandalous suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story by Twitter and other social media platforms.
“That was a pretty big deal. … Twitter and others engaged in acts of suppression of information that was relevant to the public. That’s a terrible thing that happened. That’s election interference,” he said.
Polling showed that a staggering 79 percent of voters said they think President Donald Trump would have won reelection in 2020 if voters had been aware of the truth that the Hunter Biden laptop was true and not “Russian disinformation,” as suggested by a group of former intelligence community professionals in a controversial open letter that was widely disseminated by left-leaning media outlets, which pushed the narrative that the laptop was fake.
From The Epoch Times