Elon Musk, the S3XIST
By Alexander Villena & Kieran Hanselman
Elon Reeve Musk inhabits the forefront of one technological revolution after another. From soon delivering humanity to mars to eradicating its dependence on fossil fuels, Mr. Musk has devoted much of his life to reimagining what the human landscape will look like. The positive impact his innovations will bring to virtually every aspect of life cannot be understated. However, in every positive development, there’s always a few within the chattering class that would prefer to focus on some perceived negative element — independent of whether or not it actually exists. Without currying outrage among the perennially offended for clicks, how else would their vapid publications stay afloat?
The Verge is a publication supposedly about technology. It would stand to reason that if they were to write about Elon Musk, it would pertain to his ventures with electric cars or space travel. If we wanted to hear their commentary on matters of social issues, we’d tune into their parent network, Vox. But, as the virus of identitarianism has infected all types of media companies, ranging from ESPN to the fashion publication Gentleman’s Quarterly, we’ve been subjected to this headline:
Elon Musk should stop making that stupid sex joke about Tesla’s car names
The Tesla founder has a light hearted gag by which he’s named the three models of his electric car lineup S, 3, X. If not for Ford threatening to sue, the model 3 would be known as the model E, but sadly that trinity was not meant to be.
“It’s time he stopped,” hot-take-ist O’Kane whines. The reason this joke is so problematic can be traced to the alleged culture of sexual harassment within Tesla. How insensitive Musk must be to acknowledge our most basic of biological impulses as a joke.
In O’Kane’s world, merely acknowledging sex as a joke is to say that sexual harassment is okay — a dog whistle or something. Even granting the benefit of the doubt that the nerds at Tesla are erecting a “predator zone,” interpreting such an adolescent joke as a tacit endorsement of sexual harassment is a nearly deranged attempt at character assassination that should be ridiculed as such.
But this brand of outrage fomentation is part and parcel of a growing trend toward the suppression of humor by social justice fanaticism. For instance, Dave Chappelle found himself on the shiny end of the social justice bayonet for having made a few jokes about transexuals in his recent special. In a world where language is increasingly being viewed as actual violence, it stands to reason that supposedly ‘violence-inducing’ humor ought to be censored. The end result is a hell of Orwellian proportions. After all, humor is necessarily critical; it should be obvious that it’s impossible to make a joke without offending at least one group or person. That isn’t a reason, however, to obliterate its free expression.
Even if the offender’s intent is pure, according to this school of thought, none of that matters. This was put on display when an Uber board member was forced to resign after make lighthearted banter.
But when you peel back the layers of outrage, you begin to discover that it’s predominantly one group whose humor is unacceptable: heteronormative men. After all, notoriously unfunny female performers like Sarah Silverman or Amy Schumer can attempt to make crude jokes about rape or fucking high school kids, but the moment a man attempting to make the world a better place makes a childish reference to sex we have to sound the alarms. Of course, in an equal society that values the freedom of expression, all groups should be allowed to make controversial jokes about whatever they please, but for some, comedy is a one-way street.
There’s a common refrain that conservatives are khaki-wearing uptight prudes, but more and more it’s becoming clear that a shift has occurred where those on the social justice left have taken up a torch of puritanical restrictions.
The absurdity this manufactured controversy reveals is that humor is deliberately controversial, and there are far too many on the radical left who would like to reject this out of the belief that it marginalizes the persecuted. In reality, oftentimes it’s hard to uncover uncomfortable truths without being eased into them by good-natured humor. Not only should the right to express controversial humor be protected for these reasons, but its defense is essential if a free society is not only to survive, but thrive.