Off with their heads!
Treason Act of 2022: An Acte wherby certayne arbitrarye Offences bee made Treasons.
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When Queen Mary I of England married King Philip II of Spain in 1554, English Parliament passed the Treason Act of 1554. Sandwiched in clauses stipulating how corn can be transported and explaining the punishment for counterfeiting foreign currency, there’s a little law that made it illegal to “pray or desire that God will shorten the Queen’s Days, or take her out of the Way, or any such malicious Prayer, amounting to the same Effect.” The consequence of such a heinous act would be that the perpetrator and their “Procurators and Abettors, shall be adjudged Traytors.”
Don’t ask me how this law was enforced. Although Amazon is getting close, as of 2022, no one has yet invented mind-reading technology.
It probably goes without saying that the punishment for this crime — however they discovered it — was brutal. Among 16th-century London’s notable features was the infamous “Traitor’s Gate” — the gate by which the Tudor monarchs brought prisoners into the Tower of London. At the time, the gate had spikes on top of it with the severed heads of those who dared cross the royal family.
Much like finding a horse’s head in your bed, these heads on pikes sent a stern warning to the people of London: Watch your tongue and watch your thoughts, or you’ll end up like these guys.
It seems our artist friend, Elon Musk, is having a grand old time with his new toy. Over the last few weeks, I have fluctuated from being thoroughly entertained by Twitter’s antics and amazed at the new revelations and changing media landscape that has emerged… that is, until Thursday night. I feel less bullish about Twitter than when we talked about Musk.
It appears Musk has crowned himself King of Twitter in a very Napoleon Bonaparte move. Let me catch you up.
ElonJet: In 2020, programmer Jack Sweeney created the account ElonJet which tracked the movements of Musk’s private jet. A federal ruling allows the FAA to publish flight information publicly, including those of private jets. It stands to reason that publishing public flight tracking information would be protected under the first amendment.
Reinstatements: Over the last few weeks, Musk has overturned the permanent suspensions of some controversial figures like Donald Trump, Kanye West (who was promptly suspended again), Meghan Murphy and James Lindsay, among others. There were some omissions, although I appreciate the transparency.
THE TWITTER FILES: In all caps.and have been releasing some excellent reporting on Twitter’s inner workings during the 2020 election and around January 6, 2021. The revelations are not surprising, but they also aren’t a “nothingburger.” (I find it pretty upsetting.) Amusingly, the traditional press reporting on this has no idea what they are talking about.
So much for free speech: It comes to light that multiple left-leaning reporters have been suspended (some permanently) from Twitter, including Keith Olbermann, Ryan Mac, Drew Harwell, Aaron Rupar, Donie O'Sullivan, Matt Binder, Micah Lee and Steve Hermann. All of them reported on Musk, and it’s possible they all referenced the ElonJet at one point. Mastodon and all of the external links leading to its site have also been suspended.
I would love to know what is going through Musk’s mind right now, but I can’t help but think this is his version of putting heads on spikes outside the gate to warn people what he will and will not tolerate on his platform.
I can’t say I am any of those reporters’ biggest fans — in fact, I muted most of them because I thought they were obnoxious — but free speech ceases to be free speech when our tolerance for it stops short of obnoxious speech.
A rose by any other name…
Leopards can’t change their spots.
A wolf in sheep’s clothing is still a wolf.
A pig wearing lipstick is no more a supermodel than any other barnyard animal.
A hall monitor is still a hall monitor even if when they dress up their ideas as “innovative” or “liberating.”
In short, we’re right back where we started.
In the early- to mid-20th century, Europe had its fair share of maniacal dictators. Two that really stand out to me are Joseph Stalin and Francisco Franco.
They were contemporaries, and as ruthless as they were, they have squeaked under the radar of history. Hitler gets all the hype, but Stalin was responsible for 60 million deaths by some estimates, and Spain is still unpacking its horrific history under Franco.
These despots were different in their approaches to leadership. Stalin did everything he could to expand his empire, while Franco preferred to keep to himself in Spain. Stalin hated that religion took the attention away from him, and Franco was the defender of "Catholic Spain" and staunchly against "atheist communism."
Whether you agree with either despot’s ideas on globalization or religion, at the end of the day, a dictator is a dictator. It would have been awful to live under the rule of either.
When policies are just arbitrary, it really doesn’t matter who’s running the show. Anyone’s head can be on the chopping block.
The Weekly Rondo:
It’s a bit late, so here are just a few articles that caught my eye over the last few weeks (because I’m too far behind!):
❤️🩹 You will not have my hatred: Letters of Note published journalist Antoine Leiris’s powerful letter to his wife’s killers. She died in the attacks in Paris Nov. 13, 2015.
🙊 I Regret Being A Slut: I loved this incredibly moving and vulnerable essay by. She discusses overcoming trauma, learning to value herself and learning from the tough teacher of time.
😷 ‘In Spite of Ourselves’: One of my new favorite reads is’s The First Person. This essay was absolutely breathtaking.
🚗 my grandpa, my car, and also me: Over the last few weeks, I’ve been working withfrom Both Are True. Not only is he a delight, his personal essays are vulnerable and a great snapshot into the history of the former Soviet Union. I particularly loved this essay about his grandfather.
📰 The Free Press: Common Sense is now The Free Press. I’ve always enjoyed Bari Weiss, and I’m very excited to see where this new project goes. It looks like she has an incredible team working for her, and I do love me some old-school journalism.