“The Costs Of “Free Speech”? | LeBron James Wants Elon Musk To Check Twitter For 500 Percent Increase In Use Of N-Word

(Screenshot/LA7)

Social media has heightened everyone’s awareness of people’s opinions, and commentary comes from everyone, including hateful comments. However, the Twitter platform has been especially egregious with hate speech, and NBA star LeBron James wants the company’s new owner to look into it.

On Saturday, James called Musk out, wanting a response to the “scary AF” increase in the use of the N-word on Twitter.

“I dont know Elon Musk and, tbh, I could care less who owns twitter,” James wrote. “But I will say that if this is true, I hope he and his people take this very seriously because this is scary AF. So many damn unfit people saying hate speech is free speech.”

James tweeted as a response to a post sharing a Business Insider article based on what a social media research group told The Washington Post: usage of the polarizing racial slur increased by 500 percent after Musk’s takeover of Twitter on Thursday.

The number of racist and anti-Semitic tweets began spiking on Friday following Musk’s takeover of the platform, despite a lack of official changes to Twitter’s hate speech policies.

However, Musk’s stance as a “free speech absolutist,” appears to have invited voices that are more devisive or toxic. Musk has said that his purchase of Twitter was motivated partly by his belief that there should be a “common digital town square” where a “wide range of beliefs can be debated” is essential for civilization’s future. The stance opens the door for all voices, even the ones that many would like silenced.

James’ concern opens the door to conversation about the polarization of the word and who can use it. With rap music using the word profusely and used as a primary way for entertainment and culture to be shared, Twitter has to figure out now what is the differentiating factor for users to use or not to use the word. Based on Musk’s outlook on free speech, Twitter’s increased hate speech is probably not going away.

On Friday, after Musk’s new ownership of the platform, more users were emboldened to tweet hateful content. Musk then attempted to clean up his viewpoint on the boundaries of free speech.

In a message to advertisers, Musk posted a message on Thursday saying that he wanted the social media site to be “warm and welcoming to all.” Also, Musk said his vision for more flexible content curation would not mean that “anything can be said with no consequences.”

“Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape,” Musk wrote.

LeBron James created the Uninterrupted brand and programming like The Shop to give athletes and notable personalities a platform to be their most authentic self. Although it is not a utility like Twitter, James clearly understands the value of free speech. The NBA star uses both Twitter and Instagram consistently, and only time will tell if James’ request was a hint at him using it less in the future if the N-word usage increase doesn’t change.

Until then, Musk’s free speech, Twitter as a town square approach will gain all the voices, even the ones that will push hate speech.

Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.