By Jonathon Van Maren
For several days, Elon Musk’s pinned tweet is The Daily Wire’s documentary What is a Woman? featuring Matt Walsh with the advice: “Every parent should watch this.” The documentary—which exposes the transgender movement and sex change industry—exceeded 170 million views and has been shared tens of thousands of times, an absolutely staggering number.
There are 331 million people in America. It is no exaggeration to say that Walsh’s documentary may be a watershed moment—and that makes Elon Musk’s promotion of it feel very significant in a way that few other developments in the culture wars have. This documentary is no longer simply a film by conservatives for conservatives, it is being viewed by millions of people who are still trying to figure out what they think and promoted by billionaire cultural icons who see its critique of gender ideology as common sense.
It appeared, initially, that Walsh’s film was going to be suppressed. After The Daily Wire cut a deal with Twitter to stream the documentary, executives at the site labeled it “hateful” for “misgendering,” disabled retweets, and hid the film from Twitter users. I tried to retweet it and couldn’t. The DW hosts and other conservatives began demanding an explanation from Musk, who has famously committed to ensuring that Twitter will remain a free speech public square.
Musk engaged with critics on Twitter, calling the move a “mistake” and stating that he’d get it figured out. He made good, with two Twitter executives from the “trust and safety team” leaving the company, and Musk confirming that the departures had to do with the initially disastrous rollout of What is a Woman? on Twitter. The attempt by these execs, it turns out, created the “Streisand Effect”—when an attempt to censor something results in far more people hearing about it.
Musk has gone further, too. “This is a major problem,” he tweeted in response to a thread about the dangers of puberty blockers. “I will be actively lobbying to criminalize making severe, irreversible changes to children below the age of consent. Shame on those who advocate this! It is utterly contemptible.” These are very strong words—and like J.K. Rowling, Musk is too wealthy to cancel. He also quite literally owns the platform most people use for their cancel culture mobs and is thus impervious to the sorts of pressure usually applied to critics of the transgender movement.