Elon Musk decries ‘witch-burning’ of Russell Brand
Efforts to condemn actor Russell Brand and silence him based on unproven rape allegations – made at a time when he’s challenging establishment orthodoxies on such issues as the Ukraine conflict and Covid-19 vaccines – mark a “witch-burning phase” in Western cancel culture, US tech billionaire Elon Musk has warned.
“It can’t be guilty until proven innocent because obviously, we’re just sort of in the witch-burning phase here, where just being declared a witch is enough to make you a witch and be burnt,” Musk said on Thursday in an X Spaces interview. “I think this witch-burning instinct might be deep-seated, frankly.”
Brand has been at the center of a media firestorm since the UK’s Sunday Times newspaper and Channel 4 TV reported earlier this month that four women had accused him of sexual misconduct, including rape, between 2006 and 2013. He claimed last week that UK government officials had pressured social media companies to censor his commentaries.
YouTube demonetized Brand’s videos in response to the allegations, cutting off a source of income that generated an estimated £1 million ($1.2 million) for the actor and comedian. Rumble and X (formerly known as Twitter) are among the platforms that haven’t taken action against Brand.
Rumble CEO Chris Pavlovski issued an open letter criticizing a “deeply inappropriate” push by UK MP Caroline Dinenage to demonetize Brand’s videos.
Musk, who bought X last October for $44 billion, called it an “odd coincidence” that the campaign to silence Brand was happening “when Russell is really gaining traction, questioning a lot of the conventional wisdom.” Brand also has been pilloried for spreading “conspiracy theories,” he said, adding, “I think we’re running out of conspiracy theories that didn’t turn out to be true.”
Brand has denied having nonconsensual sexual relations with anyone. Musk cautioned against a rush to judgment, saying, “We can’t have that, you know, because obviously, anyone could be accused at any time of false charges, and we can’t be destroying their lives on the basis of potentially false accusations.”
Musk made his comments on the same day that he traveled to Eagle Pass, Texas, for a firsthand look at the US border crisis. “Why do so many American politicians from both parties care 100 times more about the Ukraine border than the USA border?” asked Musk, who posted a livestream video from the scene.