Lately, Tesla and Starlink billionaire Elon Musk has been showing more common sense and leadership than we’re getting from our own White House. He stood up for increasing American oil production (even though he sells electric cars), and in less than a day, he provided satellite access and equipment for Ukraine to get back onto the Internet. But now, he’s drawing the line at what he sees as doing the same thing Russia is doing.
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Putin signed a new law barring Russian news outlets from reporting on his war on Ukraine. In response, many governments (but not Ukraine’s, oddly) are pressuring media and Internet companies such as Starlink to ban Russian news outlets as propaganda. He tweeted, “We will not do so unless at gunpoint. Sorry to be a free speech absolutist.” He added, “And also my sympathies to the great people of Russia, who do not want this.”
I understand the impulse to ban Russian media outlets when we know they’re being forced to censor themselves and air Putin’s propaganda. But if we are aware of that in advance, wouldn’t it be useful for us to know what they’re telling their own people, so we know what we have to counter? Also, you never know when some brave journalist is going to slip in some helpful real information or make a stand that the world should see.
In America, the Founders gave us free speech and freedom of the press because they trusted the people to have enough sense to know when they were hearing garbage ideas and argue them down and reject them. When the government starts deciding whose ideas are incorrect and unworthy of being spoken, that’s the slippery slope to tyranny.
We were already sliding that way as it is. Letting our government use Russia as an excuse to outright ban certain media outlets from the public square would only move us further down the well-known path of all fanatics, who eventually become what they once claimed to hate.