Just read a great article from Craig Aaron at Free Press on HuffPo about the brouhaha over the Fairness Doctrine. The federal Fairness Doctrine said that opposing viewpoints had to be given broadcast time and it was rightfully tossed out in 1987. Do you want the government monitoring our media- playing referee in that manner? I surely do not. There are better ways to promote a public sphere full of viewpoints galore, as Craig suggests.
Turns out, Republicans are brilliantly trying to call upon their rich history of deceptive rhetoric to bring the ghost of the Fairness Doctrine back to life. I think Democrats obfuscate too; the recent track record of the Rove kids is just the stuff of shock and awe. The Republicans have better “strategery.” Better twirlly-bar mustaches and villain laughs. I’m a little jealous, but I’m praying for less evil tactics on all sides. I digress.
So this FD ghost is really going to take net neutrality out back and, well, I can’t speak of it in polite circles. Republicans will dress any attempt at regulating the Internet so that it remains a neutral space in tattered, Scrooge scary clothing with heavy chains not worthy of Lady Gaga.
This is why I’m suggesting a strategy of my own for those in favor of net neutrality, which should be every single one of us who doesn’t work for a telephone company or major media conglomerate (and even some people at those places with souls–shhhh, we need them to stay hidden!). My suggestion: change the name! Call it Net Freedom.
I’m not kidding. People feel funny voting against freedom.
I’m stealing this idea from Fox News actually, which makes it all the more poetic. They called the invasion of Iraq, Operation Iraqi Freedom. Maybe they took this directly from Rove. Regardless, Fox certainly popularized it and most of us, including me, bought it. Okay, so I personally looked at is as Operation Save Our American Asses Because Colin Says They Have Nukes–that’s why I bought it, but that’s not catchy and someone knew they needed to ahem, “reframe” the war. Thus, freedom for the other guy emerged. How noble. I digress.
Back to net neutrality. Most people in this country who hear the word neutrality think of Switzerland. This is the only other time we see this word–from our history text books. They stayed out of the war. Regardless of authorial intent or historical accuracy, we hear neutral and we think of the land of chocolate, Swatch watches, bank accounts and really nice rich people. Neutrality equals Swiss! This is far better to the American than say, oh, France. Ack! Give me back my freedom fry you French, life loving type! Yet, Swiss is still not American and if there is anything that stands for American values, it is the Internet! So says Hillary. And now Google in China. Groan. I digress.
Neutrality does not equal some messiah network of routers and switches teeming with information (porn!) that will magically liberate the globe. (I’ve just upset the techno-utopians and worse, Cisco.) Neutrality, among other things, means that Comcast can’t turn internet speed into a secret packet auction where some of us only get a fraction of access for what we paid. Comcast or any company shouldn’t get to rob us blind like a giant peacock picking our pocket at the zoo. Scary. Yet, this has already happened and the FCC has already slapped their hand. Comcast will soon get to own a major content provider, NBC, because why would Comcast do anything wrong with such a sterling property? Hmmm, because they robbed the masses at least once already? Speaking of rhetoric, I have a suggestion for Comcast, too. Try out the tag line: We did some evil, only a little evil.
Neutrality is the idea that will keep your mom and pop equivalents running because they can’t be pushed out by the big guys any faster than you stop patronizing them online (or, eeek!, in person). Neutrality is good for Powell’s Bookstore, Bitch Media, eetsy and Britton’s Archery. (I had a great interaction with the latter store when Ted Nugent came to town and I did a cross-promotion with them to get butts in seats.) I’m not a fan of killing deer, but I am a fan of the friendly shop owners and their freedoms which include Net, say it with me now, Freedom.
To sum it up, we should advocate for less Switzerland; no Fairness Doctrine; more red, white and blue (without the brie); and more Braveheart. And remember, in the wonderful words of the Broadway musical Avenue Q, “the Internet is for Porn!” Net Neutrality = Net Freedom. Freedom is not fair. Freedom has been regulated in this country since 1787.