A few days ago, a group of employees at SpaceX, Elon Musk’s rocket company, wrote an open letter to their boss accusing him of being a “distraction and an embarrassment”. You can read a copy of the letter here, but the gist of it was that Musk didn’t do enough to pursue the sacred goals of ‘diversity, equity and inclusion’. Now Musk has responded in typically swashbuckling style – and fired the five people who authored the letter. The New York Post‘s Karol Markowicz – a friend of the Daily Sceptic – has written a column congratulating Musk on his decisive action and pointing out that this doesn’t make him a free speech hypocrite.
The dam is breaking. The ‘listen to meeeeee’ millennials, who have had an overblown influence on corporations, and on our culture, are finally being told to sit down and be quiet. It is very much overdue.
But isn’t Elon Musk supposed to be a ‘free speech absolutist’, screech his critics. As I explain to my small children, freedom of speech under the First Amendment means the Government can’t arrest you for calling the president a doofus.
It doesn’t mean you can do the same to your boss and expect to remain employed. (Similarly, you can’t tell your wife she’s ugly and then plead “Free speech!” when she gets mad and leaves you for the pool boy.)
Free speech in America means you can go into the public square and say what you want, safe in the knowledge that you won’t end up in prison. Twitter should be included in that, which is why Musk feels so strongly about allowing open conversation on the app. As Musk has tweeted: “Given that Twitter serves as the de facto public town square, failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy.”
The letters from his SpaceX employees sought to get Musk to stop speaking out about certain topics: “Elon’s behaviour in the public sphere is a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment for us, particularly in recent weeks.”
Yet there’s a difference between tweeting about a variety of subjects and maligning your employer. If your boss embarrasses you, find a new one. Your office is not the public square.
Nor can you tweet about how terrible your workplace is and expect your bosses simply to take it, as the Washington Post’s Felicia Sonmez recently found out. Sonmez was finally fired after a full week of non-stop tweeting about what a horrible place the Washington Post is to work at.
Worth reading in full.
Stop Press: The Twitter board has unanimously approved Elon Musk’s offer to purchase the company, clearing away one of the biggest obstacles to the takeover. Fox Business has more.