The things that Elon Musk is doing with space or trying to do here on Earth should be good. On the most basic level, it seems altruistic and it seems like a venture that is going to benefit humanity in the end. Of course, nothing is ever that simple and a lot of things have come out this weekend about Musk that makes it hard to swallow that idea. The last time we checked in, Musk was defending his mini-sub against claims it was “impractical” for the job of saving the trapped soccer team and their coach from a cave in Thailand. He still thanked the rescuers at the end of it all, delivering a glimmer of hope that things happened for the right reasons.
Reports that I am a top donor to GOP are categorically false. I am not a top donor to any political party.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 15, 2018
Then a report from The Hill dropped on Saturday that indicated Musk was a donor to the GOP PAC Protect the House, delivering $40,000 to the group that is”designed to help Republicans maintain their tenuous congressional hold” according to CNBC. This report stirred the hornet’s nest a bit, but the truth seems to indicate that this payment is just a small piece of his full donations:
According to Open Secrets, Musk has distributed his wealth fairly evenly among politicians and PACs of both major parties, which he defended in principle in a series of posts on Twitter…
Musk, who said he donated to Democrats and Republicans to “maintain an open dialogue,” then retweeted support from the Sierra Club. A representative of the organization, which thanked him for his financial support, said Musk had contributed $6 million toward climate advocacy.
That said, I do not actually see the checks (changed that policy today). A nominal annual amount goes out automatically to both parties to maintain dialogue. I have given vastly more to humanitarian causes.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 15, 2018
CNBC also adds that Musk resigned from the White House’s advisory committee after President Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Accords, and also pledged money to help fix the water in Flint, Michigan. It’s another situation that seems to be tip-toeing the line between good and somewhat shitty, and it could’ve remained there if Musk hadn’t tweeted on Sunday.
Billionaire tech entrepreneur Elon Musk sent a "kid-size submarine" to help the 12 boys trapped in the Thai cave. Vern Unsworth, who was involved in the rescue operation, rejected the idea completely. https://t.co/BLdRUYjEE7 pic.twitter.com/95o1X5snBb— CNN (@CNN) July 15, 2018
The trouble stems from Musk’s response to the video above and Zeynep Tufekci’s New York Times column (and corresponding Twitter thread) on the lessons of the Thailand cave rescue and the celebrity intervention in rescue efforts. And as she points out, there is nothing wrong with wanting to help. It just seems to cause more harm than good in some situations.
The diver above, Vern Unsworth, was not as kind to Musk and his submarine idea. None of it sat well with Musk.
Yes, that’s Elon Musk calling one of the divers involved in the rescue effort a “pedo” on Twitter for all to see, something The Guardian points out didn’t sit well with a lot of people online:
On Sunday, when a Twitter user pointed out that Musk was “calling the guy who found the children a pedo”, the billionaire responded: “Bet ya a signed dollar it’s true.”
Intense criticism followed. Some Twitter users pointed out how “dangerous” and irresponsible it was to make such a serious allegation and to broadcast a potentially libelous insult to his 22 million followers.
Spokesmen for Musk and Tesla did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Later on Sunday, Musk deleted the “pedo” tweet and its follow-up.
So now something that should’ve just gone down as Musk attempting to help and stumbling a bit has transformed into a sick controversy that does nothing to help the nasty image he’s been dealing with for the past year.
is elon musk gonna acknowledge deleting the pedo tweet or— Ashley Feinberg (@ashleyfeinberg) July 15, 2018
Beside the fact that it is 100% fine to report that Peter Thiel, racist, misogynistic financier of antigay GOP politicians, is himself gay, I believe that’s not actually why he went after Gawker. I believe it was for mocking his hedge fund, Clarium, suffering painful losses— Dan O'Sullivan (@Bro_Pair) July 15, 2018
We’ve come a long way from “Elon Musk is dating Grimes” and “Elon Musk is building a super laser in his volcano lair.” Calling someone a pedophile without any evidence or basis is quite the accusation to make, putting quite a damper on any fun space launches or flamethrower sales that could pop up. When he finally just decides to put all of his money in a place like Elysium, we can look back on this moment as when the worm turned. At least we can in between being murdered by robots or dying of starvation.
At least the Tesla Starman isn’t around to see this.