Media

In a World Already Full of Bad Ideas, Greg Abbott Suggests New Town Called 'Twitter, Texas'

Gov. Abbott wants Twitter to relocate to Texas.
Gov. Abbott wants Twitter to relocate to Texas. Famartin, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has a vision for the state, and toward that end, he sure does have a lot of ideas. He worked to get Texas declared a so-called Second Amendment sanctuary state. He’s started building his own border wall as part of theatric campaign to clamp down on migration. He jumped aboard the push to effectively ban abortion in the state.

But now he’s got a new idea: On Wednesday, he suggested creating a new town called “Twitter, Texas,” perhaps one of the most pointless proposals of recent years.

For years, Texas Republicans, among them Abbott, have railed against social media companies and other tech businesses for supposedly flouting the tenets of free speech. But with Tesla founder Elon Musk bidding to buy Twitter, Abbott and his party have gone into full celebration mode.

His latest idea came after a Texas man offered to donate 100 acres of land to Musk if the billionaire agreed to move Twitter’s headquarters to the state. (In a state with some of the most massive disparities in income equality, you may wonder why the richest man in the world needs a handout. So do we.)

Writing on Twitter, Abbott said he’d declare the land a “free speech zone,” adding: “Maybe we rename it Twitter, Texas. … Think about it [email protected]

You might also wonder just how committed to free speech Musk actually is, and you’d be right to question that assertion.
In the 2021 book Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk, and the Bet of the Century, journalist and author Tim Higgins recounted a laundry list of times Musk fired Tesla employees who disagreed with him.

Just last month, Tesla fired an employee for posting YouTube reviews of the company’s driverless cars.

Last year, Tesla landed in hot water over firing an employee for joining the drive to unionize. Musk got in trouble for a 2018 anti-union tweet. “Nothing stopping Tesla team at our car plant from voting union,” he wrote. “Could do so tmrw if they wanted. But why pay union dues & give up stock options for nothing?”

The National Labor Relations Board later determined that the tweet was threatening and violated labor laws, as did firing the union activist, CNBC reported last March. (Funnily enough, the right for people to come together over a mutual interest — like, say, workers banding together to form a union — is enshrined in the First Amendment. You know, the same one that guarantees free speech.)

Meanwhile, Abbott’s not the only one championing Musk’s lengthy resume of supposedly championing free speech.

Earlier this week, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz wrote on Twitter that Musk purchasing the social media platform was “the most important development for free speech in decades!”

For his part, Musk has expressed his hope that Twitter under his rule will upset "the far right and the far left equally." In reality, those stoked about his Twitter buyout seem to mostly come from the far right.

Either way, he hasn't said one way or the next whether Twitter will relocate to Texas. Tesla moved its headquarters to Austin last year, and SpaceX, another company with Musk as CEO, has a base about 20 miles outside of Brownsville.

In the meantime, you can likely expect Texas Republicans to continue cheerleading for Musk and the new Twitter. And if Musk plants a flag in the new lands of Twitter, Texas, maybe a handful of them will move there. 
KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Patrick Strickland is the news editor at the Dallas Observer. He's a former senior reporter at Al Jazeera English and has reported for the New York Review of Books, The Guardian, Politico EU and The New Republic, among others.