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#DearElon: International call for X (formerly Twitter) to build on stand against censorship

Free speech advocates join open letter to Elon Musk seeking support for victims muzzled by government

Friday, Oct 27, 2023

LONDON – More than 50 international free speech advocates, including many high-profile X (formerly Twitter) users, have united in signing an open letter to Elon Musk congratulating him on his one-year anniversary as CEO of the social media company and asking for his support in assisting those punished by governments after posting on his platform.

In August 2023, Musk tweeted that he would fund legal support for those who face discrimination by employers for posts on X. The letter commends Musk for the offer and requests that he consider extending it to those who have suffered censorship at the hands of government authorities for peaceful expression on the platform.

“As you rightfully have spotlighted, threats to free expression often come at the hands of businesses treating employees unfairly for sharing their views,” the letter states. “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 recommends 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…

  • Designating funds to support legal action challenging state-sponsored censorship of views on X.
  • Create an intake mechanism on X whereby individuals can apply for this support.
  • Host X Spaces to bring worldwide attention to censorship cases involving both governments and the workplace.

The letter, now open for members of the public to sign, has thus far been signed by Cambridge University academic Dr. James Orr; Professor Eric Kaufmann of the University of Buckingham; New York Times bestselling author Rod Dreher; Dutch commentator Eva Vlaardingerbroek; broadcaster Calvin Robinson; Free Speech Union General Secretary Toby Young; Alliance Defending Freedom CEO, President, and General Counsel Kristen Waggoner; ADF International Executive Director Paul Coleman, and many others.

“Free speech is the cornerstone of a free society,” Waggoner explained. “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.”

“Elon Musk has shown rare leadership on the issue of free speech,” she continued. “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.”

As highlighted on the website devoted to the letter, 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. For example, 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, three 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,” said Coleman, who also authored the book Censored: How European ‘Hate Speech’ Laws are Threatening Freedom of Speech. “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 who seek to peacefully exercise their right to free expression. In the West, speech increasingly is targeted by ‘hate speech’ laws; 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,” Coleman continued. “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. We hope that he will be willing to expand this offer to meet the growing challenge of state censorship, as demonstrated in the shocking cases of Päivi Räsänen, Gabriel Quadri, and Rodrigo Iván Cortés.”

  • Pronunciation guide: Päivi Räsänen (PI’-vee RAHZ’-uh-nen)

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.

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Related Resources

ABOUT Kristen Waggoner

As the CEO, president, and general counsel of Alliance Defending Freedom, Kristen Waggoner leads the faith-based organization in advancing the God-given right to live and speak the truth in the U.S. and around the world. She oversees more than 450 ADF team members in eight global offices. Since 2011, ADF has won 15 cases at the U.S. Supreme Court, three of which were argued by Waggoner: Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, Uzuebgunam v. Presczewski,and 303 Creative v. Elenis. ADF also has a strong record of international success at the European Court of Human Rights, United Nations, and other leading courts and tribunals and has secured the release of more than 1,000 imprisoned Christians. After clerking with Washington Supreme Court Justice Richard B. Sanders, Waggoner practiced law for over 16 years at a Seattle firm before joining ADF in 2013. She is Peer Review Rated AV® Preeminent™ in Martindale-Hubbell. Waggoner is a sought-after public speaker who often appears in national and international media outlets.

ABOUT Paul Coleman

Paul Coleman serves as executive director of ADF International, overseeing the legal advocacy of all ADF International offices. Specializing in international human rights and European law, Coleman has been involved in more than 20 cases before the European Court of Human Rights and has authored submissions before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, UN Human Rights Committee, and numerous national courts. Coleman earned his LL.M. and postgraduate diploma in legal practice from the Northumbria Law School, graduating with distinction. He also has a bachelor of laws from Newcastle University and graduated with first-class honours. Coleman is a solicitor of the Senior Courts of England and Wales and is the author of two books and numerous articles.