EDITORIAL: Elon Musk cannot do whatever he wants

elon smoking weed

Shares in Tesla are continuing to fall, and it is largely to blame on CEO Elon Musk’s behavior.

Musk’s most recent controversy involved smoking weed in a video interview with comedian Joe Rogan. The video involved Rogan offering Musk a joint. Rogan asked if smoking marijuana on air would lead to issues with shareholders to which Musk responded, “It’s legal, right?”

He was correct — marijuana is legal for recreational use in California, where the interview took place. The issue does not necessarily lie with the marijuana use itself, but instead it is a culmination of all of his recent strange and concerning behavior. It’s good that Musk is finally starting to be held accountable for his actions.

Romit Shah of Nomura Instinet, an important advocate of Tesla, recently announced that Tesla is no longer investible. The company's stock rating officially lowered from buy to neutral.

In a note to his clients, Shah said, “The issue though is the erratic behavior of CEO Elon Musk. During the second quarter, the switch seemingly flipped. … We are worried that this behavior is tainting the Tesla brand, which in terms of value is most important.”

Smoking weed is not the only thing he has done that has concerned both shareholders and the general public.

On Aug. 7th, Musk announced that he intended to make Tesla private at $420 a share. This was immediately interpreted as a marijuana reference, as seen in many replies to the tweet, but Musk claims this is not the case.

Musk told the New York Times, “I was not on weed, to be clear. Weed is not helpful for productivity. There’s a reason for the word ‘stoned.’ You just sit there like a stone on weed.”

Much of the critique surrounding Musk’s behavior stems from his activity on Twitter. After spelunker Vernon Unsworth criticized Musk’s plan to use a submarine to rescue the boys stuck in a Thai cave, Musk took to Twitter and called him a pedophile.

The tweet has since been deleted, but it read, “Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it.”

The crux of the issue is that Musk is not a deity who can do whatever he pleases without consequence. If shareholders are concerned about his actions, then they have every right to stop investing in Tesla. 

Perhaps this will teach him a valuable lesson.

There is no denying that Musk is smart. Gwynne Shotwell, the president of SpaceX, claims that Musk is still "brilliant" despite all of his recent controversies. Despite this, being rich or smart does not automatically make one a good person or absolve them of any criticism.

For a long time it seemed that the general public followed Musk with blind devotion. 

Benjamin Zeller, associate professor of religion at Lake Forest College, told Salon, “He has an ability to become associated with exciting ideas in which he becomes the spokesman for those ideas. People see these leaders as the personification of their ambitions, goals, hopes and desires.”

Maybe the recent criticism of Musk shows that our culture of worshiping billionaires is beginning to change. 

People are realizing that they do not like Musk as a person and are no longer investing in his company, and this backlash will hopefully cause him to think before he acts or posts an offensive tweet. Let this set an example to billionaires everywhere.

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