A war of words has broken out between Tesla and Space X CEO Elon Musk and Spelunker Vernon Unsworth – a British diver who was part of the rescue team that successfully evacuated 12 schoolboys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave in Thailand, recently.
Unsworth is contemplating legal action against Musk after the tech billionaire needlessly called him a “pedo guy” on Twitter, apparently miffed at the diver for criticising his kid-sized submarine he and his team of Space X and The Boring Company engineers designed for rescuing the boys.
Speaking to CNN on Friday, Unsworth had called Musk’s offer to save the trapped boys in Thailand nothing but a “PR stunt,” going to the extent of suggesting that Musk could “stick his submarine where it hurts.”
He said that Musk’s so-called kid-sized submarine made from Space X rocket parts “had absolutely no chance of working,” going on to say that Musk “had no conception of what the cave passage was like,” and that his 5ft 6in-long underwater craft was too rigid to have “gone round corners or round any obstacles.”
On Musk personally visiting the cave in Thailand, Unsworth said the Boring Company CEO “was asked to leave very quickly”.
Cave rescuer on Musk: “It was a PR stunt. It had no chance of working.” pic.twitter.com/uPgRMQLkRx
— Quoth the Raven (@QTRResearch) July 13, 2018
Obviously peeved with the diver’s comments, the American entrepreneur responded with a series of tweets, attacking Unsworth and defending his invention.
“Never saw this British expat guy who lives in Thailand (sus) at any point when we were in the caves,” Musk wrote.
“Only people in sight were the Thai navy/army guys, who were great. Thai navy seals escorted us in — total opposite of wanting us to leave,” he added.
“Water level was actually very low & still (not flowing) – you could literally have swum to Cave 5 with no gear, which is obv how the kids got in,” he said in a follow-up tweet.
“If not true, then I challenge this dude to show final rescue video,” he dared Unsworth, not forgetting to compliment the “unsung heroes” of the rescue efforts – the “pump and generator team.”
“Huge credit to pump and generator team. Unsung heroes here,” he said.
He then withdrew his challenge in a subsequent tweet, saying that he would rather give a demo to prove that his contraption was capable of making it all the way to Cave 5.
So far, it was all good and acceptable, until he decided to call Unsworth a “pedo guy,” which, many thought, was unsubstantiated, in bad taste, and totally unbecoming of a man in his position.
“You know what, don’t bother showing the video. We will make one of the mini-sub/pod going all the way to Cave 5 no problemo. Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it,” Musk wrote.
He later deleted the obnoxious tweet and its follow-up after being subjected to a barrage of criticism on social media.
Elon Musk deletes tweet accusing diver in Thai rescue of being a pedophile. For those who missed it, here it is again pic.twitter.com/xQ0q22ee31
— zerohedge (@zerohedge) July 15, 2018
It is clear that he did not remove the offensive tweet out of embarrassment or shame for his unwarranted outburst, because when he was reminded on Twitter that he was “calling the guy who found the children a pedo,” he nonchalantly responded with: “Bet ya a signed dollar it’s true.”
So, evidently, there was no sign of regret, of any sort, for his use of the word “pedo,” obviously meaning pedophile, to describe Unsworth.
The backlash was swift and unforgiving, with one Twitter user calling his comments incredibly “messed up” and “dangerous.”
Elon Musk has 22 million followers, many of them fanboys. When he calls someone a child rapist because they challenge him online, his stans listen. Incredibly messed up. Incredibly dangerous.
— Angus Johnston (@studentactivism) July 15, 2018
“So what do you do with an S.O.B. like $TSLA CEO Elon Musk who smears people?” asked another user, answering the question himself: “Here’s one suggestion from a man named Ali Nazerali : you sue them, as he did with $OSTK CEO Patrick Byrne.”
So what do you do with an S.O.B. like $TSLA CEO Elon Musk who smears people?
Here's one suggestion from a man named Ali Nazerali : you sue them, as he did with $OSTK CEO Patrick Byrne.
Outcome: you win.
— Gary Weiss (@gary_weiss) July 15, 2018
One user even appealed to Twitter not to allow the billionaire to use Twitter to “unleash [his] followers on people like this”.
— Ellen K. Pao (@ekp) July 15, 2018
Here are some more, to give you an idea of the kind of outrage Musk’s irresponsible comments have attracted; and this is just a fraction, mind you.
@elonmusk BRB, cancelling @Tesla order. You know Elon, not everything is about you, perhaps bottom drawer your narcissism and focus on the good work done with the rescue rather than labelling those who gave their time, #pedoguy. No respect for you anymore.
— 🇳🇿Kiwi 🤷♂️ (@kiwi888y) July 15, 2018
— Terry Hudson (@yankees177) July 15, 2018
When the Guardian asked James Anderson – a partner at Baillie Gifford, Tesla’s fourth-largest shareholder – to comment on Musk’s “pedo” remark, his email response was, “I intend to convey my – predictable I trust – feelings to the company tomorrow,” without elaborating on what his “predictable….feelings” were.
What is even more perplexing is that Musk’s “pedo” tweet came only a couple of days after he told Bloomberg Businessweek that he would mend his aggressive ways on Twitter.
“I have made the mistaken assumption—and I will attempt to be better at this—of thinking that because somebody is on Twitter and is attacking me that it is open season,” he said during the aforementioned interview. “That is my mistake. I will correct it.”
However, it seems that instead of working on improving his Twitter-behavior, he is channeling his efforts more on breaking his own records in tweeted nastiness, for want of a better description.
He has not even spared the press, attacking them in May for portraying Tesla in a bad light in their articles.
“The holier-than-thou hypocrisy of big media companies who lay claim to the truth, but publish only enough to sugarcoat the lie, is why the public no longer respects them,” Musk wrote.
Musk’s comment is, probably, going to earn him a lawsuit, as reports have it that Unsworth is contemplating legal action against the angry entrepreneur; the news has caused Tesla shares to fall.
On being asked if he was considering a legal course to respond to Musk’s character-assassinating tweet, the 63-year-old cave diver told The Guardian, “Yes, it’s not finished.”
Nine News Adelaide’s crime reporter Ben Avery tweeted that Unsworth was “fuming” at Musk’s indecent attack on him and was not averse to taking legal action against the irresponsible entrepreneur.
“This isn’t the end,” Avery quoted the diver.
We have just met with British dive hero Vern Unsworth who has bizarrely been called a “pedo” by Elon Musk, for criticising his rescue submarine. He is fuming, and will consider legal action. “This isn’t the end.” (forgive my sweat and scruffiness) pic.twitter.com/mGeFwJyZCb
— Ben Avery (@benavery9) July 16, 2018