Response to Christian Coalition-NARAL call for net neutrality regs

by on October 18, 2007 · 10 comments

In an editorial in yesterday’s Washington Post, Roberta Combs, president of the Christian Coalition of America, joins Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, in calling for congressional investigation of purported censorship by wireless operators. Combs, who has vociferously argued for net-neutrality regulation for communications and Internet companies, is now stepping up those calls, claiming that private companies want to squelch speech over wired or wireless networks. “We’re asking Congress to convene hearings on whether existing law is sufficient to guarantee the free flow of information and to protect against corporate censorship,” Combs and Keenan write.

Prompting this latest call for regulation was an incident two weeks ago in which Verizon Wireless blocked text messages from NARAL. Verizon admitted that it had made a mistake and immediately changed its policy. But net-neutrality fans like NARAL and Christian Coalition say that the incident shows why a Fairness Doctrine for the communications and online sector is essential. In reality, as I point out in my latest City Journal column, the incident proved the opposite: the message got out, and this episode is hardly an excuse for imposing Net neutrality mandates on the Internet. Read on…


________________________________________________
A Fairness Doctrine for the Internet
Brought to you by NARAL—and the Christian Coalition
18 October 2007

The perversely named Fairness Doctrine, which threatened licensed broadcasters with fines if they didn’t “afford reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views,” as the government defined it, has shown up in the news again recently, as federal lawmakers and liberal media activists have called for increased regulation of a media marketplace that they feel is spinning out of their control. But the push to reimpose the doctrine—which the Reagan administration abandoned in the late 1980s as obsolete and harmful to free speech—may be mostly a diversionary tactic. The Left has a much bigger target in its regulatory crosshairs: the Internet. Over the past few years, many of the same policymakers and activists who have long trumpeted the Fairness Doctrine have advocated that its rough equivalent apply to Internet service providers. And they’ve come up with another Orwellian term for the proposal: “net neutrality.”

In theory, net-neutrality regulation would ban Internet operators from treating some bits of online traffic or communications more favorably than others, whether for economic or political purposes. Proponents of net neutrality use the same kind of fantastic rhetoric to describe it that they once used for the Fairness Doctrine: it’s a way to “save the Internet” from “media barons,” they say, who’re apparently hell-bent on controlling all our thoughts and activities. As City Journal’s Brian Anderson notes, “It’s thus not hard to imagine a network neutrality law as the first step toward a Web fairness doctrine, with government trying to micromanage traffic flows to secure ‘equal treatment’ of opposing viewpoints (read: making sure all those noisy right-wingers get put back in their place).”

It’s a brilliant tactic by the Left. Why exert all your energy attempting to reimpose “fairness” mandates on broadcasters alone when you can capture them, and much more, by regulating the entire Internet? After all, in a world of media convergence and abundance, bright lines dividing distinct media sectors or their products have vanished. Everything from TV shows to text messages run on multiple networks, making the old, broadcast-oriented Fairness Doctrine a less effective means of reestablishing a liberal media monopoly. So the liberals got smart and came up with the perfect solution: use net neutrality as a backdoor way to reimpose the Fairness Doctrine on the entire media marketplace.

[...Read the rest on the City Journal website]

  • http://sortitallout.myblogsite.com/ Froggy Doggy

    So kids 11-14 can get birth control pills without Mom and Dad knowing in a Maine Middle School? Wait…was that 11 years old???? Huh? I mean is it really 11 years old?

    One thing that’s increasingly irritated me for about the last 4 years are all of the Viagra, Levitra ect…ads on TV that openly discuss sex and “4 hour erections”. Ever been watching with your 10 year old niece in the room? Or perhaps 8 year old nephew? Or any kid that doesn’t need to be seeing ads like that? It’s a little awkward. What kind of discussions does this spur for little Jimmy and his buddies or young Sally and her girlfriends at a sleepover?

    Where do these drug companies get off putting those adds out at family viewing time and where do the networks who accept the add money get off approving it? Oh wait, could it possible be all about the money(as opposed to right and wrong) IN THE SHALLOW END OF THE POOL? Could this having something to do with young kids “bringing sexy back” at a younger and younger age? Could the national circus sourounding our friendlyneightborhood ex-President Clinton’s horrific decision to play cigar and popsicle games with a 23….yes, 23 year old intern that he had lots of control and influence over have anything to do with it? Could the fact that Mom is just as likely these days to have to work to support our lifestyles versus nurturing and raising a child at home(at least until 5) have anything to do with it?

    Just wondering. Thoughts anyone?

  • http://sortitallout.myblogsite.com/ Froggy Doggy

    So kids 11-14 can get birth control pills without Mom and Dad knowing in a Maine Middle School? Wait…was that 11 years old???? Huh? I mean is it really 11 years old?

    One thing that’s increasingly irritated me for about the last 4 years are all of the Viagra, Levitra ect…ads on TV that openly discuss sex and “4 hour erections”. Ever been watching with your 10 year old niece in the room? Or perhaps 8 year old nephew? Or any kid that doesn’t need to be seeing ads like that? It’s a little awkward. What kind of discussions does this spur for little Jimmy and his buddies or young Sally and her girlfriends at a sleepover?

    Where do these drug companies get off putting those adds out at family viewing time and where do the networks who accept the add money get off approving it? Oh wait, could it possible be all about the money(as opposed to right and wrong) IN THE SHALLOW END OF THE POOL? Could this having something to do with young kids “bringing sexy back” at a younger and younger age? Could the national circus sourounding our friendlyneightborhood ex-President Clinton’s horrific decision to play cigar and popsicle games with a 23….yes, 23 year old intern that he had lots of control and influence over have anything to do with it? Could the fact that Mom is just as likely these days to have to work to support our lifestyles versus nurturing and raising a child at home(at least until 5) have anything to do with it?

    Just wondering. Thoughts anyone?

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com/ enigma_foundry

    The analogy of net neutrality with the fairness doctrine is deeply broken.

    First, the fairness doctrine imposed a duty to promote actively a certain point of view, on a media that was inherently limited, and controlled centrally.

    Net neutrality, however, would prevent entities from actively suppressing freedom of speech, (as Comcast was recently caught doing) and keep the control of the web where it belongs–in the hands of the users, the people. To do otherwise would resign ourselves to central control and limit the web in ways we should not.

    Net neutrality is the way to keep computers in the control of the users, and those who do not advocate net neutrality are really allowing the freedom that the PC has brought us to be throttled back.

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com/ enigma_foundry

    Incidently, also very broken is the attempt to split the left and the right on this issue–which Adam is shamelessly trying to do here.

    It is not left or right, but a basic issue of freedom and human rights.

    Net neutrality is to today what the First Amendment was to the founding of America.

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com eee_eff

    The analogy of net neutrality with the fairness doctrine is deeply broken.

    First, the fairness doctrine imposed a duty to promote actively a certain point of view, on a media that was inherently limited, and controlled centrally.

    Net neutrality, however, would prevent entities from actively suppressing freedom of speech, (as Comcast was recently caught doing) and keep the control of the web where it belongs–in the hands of the users, the people. To do otherwise would resign ourselves to central control and limit the web in ways we should not.

    Net neutrality is the way to keep computers in the control of the users, and those who do not advocate net neutrality are really allowing the freedom that the PC has brought us to be throttled back.

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com eee_eff

    Incidently, also very broken is the attempt to split the left and the right on this issue–which Adam is shamelessly trying to do here.

    It is not left or right, but a basic issue of freedom and human rights.

    Net neutrality is to today what the First Amendment was to the founding of America.

  • Adam Thierer

    enigma_foundry… What part of “Congress shall make no law” don’t you understand?? Net neutrality regulation IS regulation. The First Amendment, by contrast, keeps us free of tyrannical government regulation. Net neutrality requires government coercion; the First Amendment does not. Under Net neutrality regulation, people and companies could be fined or go to jail for violating FCC regulation. The First Amendment, by contrast, shields private citizens and companies from fines and jail time.

    Please don’t insult the founders (or our intelligence) by equating the tyranny of Net neutrality regulation with the liberty-enhancing beauty of the First Amendment.

  • Adam Thierer

    enigma_foundry… What part of “Congress shall make no law” don’t you understand?? Net neutrality regulation IS regulation. The First Amendment, by contrast, keeps us free of tyrannical government regulation. Net neutrality requires government coercion; the First Amendment does not. Under Net neutrality regulation, people and companies could be fined or go to jail for violating FCC regulation. The First Amendment, by contrast, shields private citizens and companies from fines and jail time.

    Please don’t insult the founders (or our intelligence) by equating the tyranny of Net neutrality regulation with the liberty-enhancing beauty of the First Amendment.

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