Elon Musk took to Twitter last week with three simple tweets packed with basic but forgotten wisdom for America.

Let’s call them his “Rules for Civil Discourse.”

Of course, since Musk bought Twitter last year, the legacy media has accused him of devolving the popular social media platform into lawless havoc. One clinical health professor, for example, called the Musk-managed site “an unregulated flea market of opinion.”

But why are his opponents so concerned?

What do they really mean by sensationalized insults such as “Twitter’s descent into the Wild West of social media” or the “unregulated flea market of opinion”?

Ultimately, it is not the alleged absence of rules that truly concerns the media. It is the absence of their rules. It is the fact that they exclusively cannot run roughshod anymore. The political left is so used to having the upper hand on social media, to suddenly be subjected to Sheriff Musk’s semi-fair rules is perceived as one of the greatest threats to their dominance in years.

And they would much rather silence their opponents than give everyone an equal opportunity to speak.

This speaks to an unhealthy kind of tribalism pervasive in America. Not only are Americans tribalistic, but they cannot seem to accept the fact that other Americans are tribalistic too. Instead, they expect everyone to adhere to their tribe’s rules. They try to impose their ways on the whole of the nation.

But in the race to silence the other side/tribe, we seem to have forgotten fundamental truths about self-governance in America. No longer does the Golden Rule apply to censorship, silencing, or canceling each other. And while forcing our “rules” on everyone else may not always be a good idea, here are three rules from the “Chief Twit” himself we can all adhere to.

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In the first of his tweets, Musk warned against the dangers of blind party loyalism and close-mindedness. Politics is a hypocritical game in which most people refuse to call balls and strikes. It takes humility to admit that your favored politician may have also done what you are now thrashing the opponent for. Or vice versa.

Undue loyalism also tends to make us ineffective at reaching what should be our end goal: saving the country. It’s one thing to be loyal and true to principles – that’s absolutely necessary. But if we are going to win the other side, we cannot do it simply by being partisan hacks.

The left acts as if simply seeing misinformation will kill us. It won’t. Misinformation is an unpreventable byproduct of freedom. It’s far better to suffer free speech (even if it allows for “misinformation”) than to run the risk of censoring truth. Or giving up liberty. As soon as we let government or any other powerful entity play gatekeeper to truth, we are on a slippery slope toward authoritarianism.

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In his final “rule,” Musk admits Twitter might, in fact, sometimes be the Wild West of social media. People are bound to say stupid, foolish, incorrect, and offensive things – and on Twitter, they are (generally) free to do so. It is an inescapable part of living in a free society. But, of course, it’s worth it.

So many of our problems today are born out of our authoritarian bent toward imposing Newspeak. Elon Musk, for one, has had enough. 

It’s time we recaptured the timeless American creed, “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” 
If we want to remain free, enjoying the many blessings of free speech, it has to stay that way.

Even on Twitter.

Jakob Fay is a staff writer for the Convention of States Project, a project of Citizens for Self-Governance.