Elon Musk is visionary and controversial.
He completely changed the way the world views the automobile, and forced one of the world’s most important industries to transform, in order to address climate change.
Musk, the whimsical, has also helped rekindle the dream of conquering and inhabiting the planet Mars with SpaceX, his aerospace company.
He has taken on a new challenge since October 27: to build an everything app based on Twitter, a social network that did not earn money, despite its influence in public debate.
This challenge is undoubtedly the biggest he had to face in recent years, as he must take into account external factors that he cannot control, like advertisers. Many brands have suspended their advertising spots, out of fear that the platform under Musk may become a “hellscape.”
The Techno King, his title at Tesla (TSLA) – Get Free Report, describes himself as a “free speech absolutist ,” which means he considers any message on the platform to be acceptable as long as it does not violate the law of the country in which it is posted.
“Freedom of speech is the bedrock of a strong democracy and must take precedence,” the billionaire argued on November 25.
In the name of free speech, Musk has reactivated former President Donald Trump’s account and accounts known for anti-transgender posts like those of conservative satirical site the Babylon Bee and Canadian conservative psychologist Jordan Peterson. He also announced a general amnesty for all banned accounts, after having organized a survey on the platform to this effect.
“The people have spoken,” he wrote on November 24. “Amnesty begins next week. Vox Populi, Vox Dei.”
It is an understatement to say that by taking unconventional positions, the mogul has made as many enemies as friends. His involvement in geopolitical affairs, notably by supporting Ukraine, invaded by Russia on February 24, has made him a global personality.
He decided to provide Starlink, the secure satellite internet access service, developed by SpaceX. Starlink has become the only communication system for the Ukrainian armed forces on the front. He also exposed himself by proposing a peace initiative to put an end to the Russia-Ukraine war. But this plan, perceived as pro-Russian, was largely rejected by the Ukrainians.
Diet Coke and Guns
All this news and exposure have made him one of the most influential people on the planet. Musk arouses passions on all sides. It is in this context that the billionaire has just revealed his bedside, by posting a photo on Twitter, where he often shares his opinions, projects, desires and feelings with his millions of fans. In the photo, Musk appears to be keeping a gun next his bed.
“My bedside table,” Musk posted on November 28.
On the light wood table there are four open cans of Diet Coke. Musk posted several weeks ago that he was on a diet based on fasting. There is also an almost empty bottle of water. And there’s a black gun sitting next to three cans and an open case with what appears to be a collectible gun inside. The inside of the lid of the gun case is covered by the painting of Washington Crossing the Delaware, painted in 1851 by German-American Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze.
On the table, stains left by the cans are visible, with Musk offering an apology.
“There is no excuse for my lack of coasters,” the serial entrepreneur wrote.
He does not explain whether he goes to bed with these two weapons next to him because he has received threats for his life, or simply because he feels safer sleeping with a weapon next to him.
Two hours later, the post had already received more than 210,000 likes. Many users wanted to know the origin of the weapons and made jokes about his Diet Coke cans.
Last May, Musk took a stand in the debate on gun control, the day after a shooting massacre that killed 19 children and two adults at an elementary school in south Texas.
“I strongly believe that the right to bear arms is an important safeguard against potential tyranny of government. Historically, maintaining their power over the people is why those in power did not allow public ownership of guns,” Musk told CNBC on May 25.
“Assault rifles should at minimum require a special permit, where the recipient is extremely well vetted imo,” he said on Twitter, responding to a question from a user.
“How about a middle ground, where the licensing standard for semi-auto rifles is a driver’s license, age 21 and no rap sheet?” Musk added. “Basically, what is a reasonable way to make it harder for people with homicidal impulses to obtain body count maximizing weapons?”
Gun owners – and there is an estimated 80 million of them – see their firearms as a way to defend their own property and freedom. Banning or restricting the use of guns is therefore seen as a violation of their civil rights.