Elon Musk has filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought against him in September by a British cave diver who sued for defamation after Musk publicly called him a “pedo guy” and “child rapist.” Musk’s lawyers claim that his “over-the-top insults are not statements of fact.” The crux of their argument is that Twitter–where Musk frequently rage-tweets and fires off petty missives–is a platform tailor-made for spats and hyperbolic statements. (Not untrue.)
The cave diver in question, Vernon Unsworth, was part of the team that rescued members of a boys’ soccer team from a cave in Thailand earlier this year. Unsworth dismissed Musk’s attempt to help with the rescue–which took the form of a mini submarine that was deemed “not practical”–as a PR stunt. Musk’s motion tries to posit that his outbursts were simply a response to Unsworth’s “indefensible and baseless attacks,” and that he was defending his companies and the employees who had “given up their days and nights” to work on the submarine.
“The public knew from the outset that Musk’s insults were not intended to be statements of fact,” the motion reads. “The reasonable reader would not have believed that Musk–without having ever met Unsworth, in the middle of a schoolyard spat on social media, and from 8,000 miles afar–was conveying that he was in possession of private knowledge that Unsworth was sexually attracted to children or engaged in sex acts with children . . . In short, the reasonable reader would distinguish Musk’s statements from those in which factual information about child sex abuse is conveyed.”
Tell that to Musk’s legion of fanboys, nearly 24 million strong on Twitter, who hang on his every word.