Somehow I Don’t Think Pearl Jam/AT&T is the Shot Heard ‘Round the World

by on August 17, 2007 · 16 comments

If Eddie Vedder sat stone silent for 30 seconds, everyone would know that he hated George Bush. Eddie Vedder is hate for George Bush. He is the Jeremy to George Bush’s recess lady. Bleeping out Eddie Vedder’s criticisms of George Bush is censorship in the same way umbrellas censor the sun.

But maybe reheating the tempest in a teapot about some AT&T-owned site bleeping some political comments from a big rock star is a good way to while away the August doldrums.

Jon Stokes at Ars has penned a little fantasy about how this Pearl Jam/AT&T ‘censorship’ thing – the most discussed, widely available, and obvious censored information ever! – may bring ‘net neutrality regulation back to life.

That’s all fine for him to write. I’m forced to read it to about the same extent that I’ve been prevented from learning Eddie Vedder’s politics.

But my ears pricked up when he briefly summarized the arguments against public utility regulation for broadband service.

So this censorship scandal is still growing, and politically (if not technically) it strikes at the heart of the “trust us with your communications” premise that forms one of the two central pillars of the telcos’ attacks on network neutrality legislation. (The other pillar is, “government regulation is scaaaarrryyyy… big, scary regulations stifle the free market…”)

Really? I would love it, but I don’t recall ever hearing a telco actually defend free markets. But then, I don’t pay a lot of attention to what telcos say.

And neither should you. You can read good arguments here on TLF about how regulations lead to rent-seeking and regulatory capture. In this post, I talked about how agencies turn regulation to their own advantage.

Dismissing telcos’ arguments is fine, I guess, but there are good arguments from other sources that would have made for a stronger Arsticle.

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