Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen deactivated his office and campaign Twitter accounts today, saying in a letter “the level of hate speech has significantly proliferated on Twitter.”
He said Elon Musk “has used Twitter to spread hatred and bigotry…Bigotry has no home in the land of the free and the home of the brave."
He said the Twitter CEO’s actions “erode our democracy and destroy our country by dividing Americans against each other.”
Rosen said his decision to remove Northern California's largest prosecutor's office from Twitter is in response to increasing hatred, bigotry and antisemitism on the platform and Twitter owner Elon Musk's own statements and posts, such as a meme used by racists and antisemites.
The district attorney also is asking all elected district attorneys throughout the U.S. to take their offices off Twitter.
"As Americans, we have the freedom to loudly express our political opinions and strongly disagree with each other,” he said in a statement today. “However, when that speech crosses the line into hatred, racism and antisemitism, all of our precious and hard fought freedoms are undermined and our democracy is weakened. Every American has a moral obligation to fight against hate speech. There are many ways to do that, large and small. Here’s one way: Quit Twitter. My Office – the largest prosecutor's office in Northern California – is quitting Twitter.”
“Some think that allowing hatred, encouraging it, and standing beside it equates with free speech and constitutional liberty,” Rosen wrote. “That is not a principled stand. That is complicity. That is what many Germans did in the 1930s and what many South Africans did in the 1980s. It is what Elon Musk is doing in the 2020s.”
“Anyone who uses Twitter has noticed the proliferation of extremist posts in their daily feed,” he said. “Many of these handles were previously banned by Twitter because they spread hatred and bigotry.”
The district attorney criticized Musk’s “cynical marketing strategy.”
“Mr. Musk is hiding behind the curtain of being a defender of balanced public dialogue. Yet he himself has used Twitter to spread hatred and bigotry. In a now-deleted Tweet, Mr. Musk used the antisemitic meme Pepe the Frog. If antisemitism is okay, then so is homophobia, misogyny, and racism. That may help Mr. Musk make money. But it can erode our democracy and destroy our country by dividing Americans against each other.”
Rosen said district attorneys, “As American prosecutors, we speak with one voice – against crime, violence, greed, and hatred. We don’t need 280 characters or a billionaire’s app to say, “Bigotry has no home in the land of the free and the home of the brave."
In an introduction to his official statement, the district attorney shared some personal family history:
“My father was a holocaust survivor, and many of his family were murdered by the Nazi regime. In as much, I grew up with stories about the subtle antisemitic tropes that spread across Europe before WWII–all Jews are wealthy, Jews control the banks, and Jews killed Christ. All tropes that instigated hatred for my people. This experience has made me particularly sensitive to injustice and hatred toward any people. It's the main reason I became a prosecutor.”
In an open letter to Santa Clara residents, he wrote:
“No doubt, every one of you has some knowledge about the controversy surrounding Elon Musk's leadership at the social media site Twitter. Mr. Musk has pledged to increase public dialogue by allowing previously banned Twitter account holders back on the site. I believe Mr. Musk's strategy has been an abject failure as the level of hate speech has significantly proliferated on Twitter.”
“So, I will deactivate my Office and campaign Twitter accounts. I have not made this decision frivolously or as a stunt. I do so because–if not me, then who, and if not now, then when?”