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Net Neutrality: Once More Into The Breach


(Looks like we’re going to have to keep fighting this one.  And we accepted one of "those ads" once again.  So it gives me great pleasure to present this fine guest post from Dover Bitch on the topic of Net Neutrality, based on a popular suggestion she made in the comments. — JH)

The time has come, once again, for action. The last chance to keep the flow of information on the Internet unhindered by corporate interests rests with the Snowe-Dorgan Net Neutrality bill, soon to be considered in the Senate. We absolutely must win this fight — a fight that begins right here with you.

The biggest advantage we have is our collective brainpower. Together, we need to tailor some concise and crystal-clear analogies and explanations of the issue. Then, we will take them to the local media, wherever we can, and rally the public to act. It’s not enough for us to call our senators — we need our friends and neighbors to make those calls as well. If we can explain the issue well, there is no doubt that we can create the kind of energy that the Senate will take seriously.

So here’s the plan: You’re all invited to make suggestions in this message thread. Come up with a brief analogy or explanation that would make anybody understand what’s at stake. It can explain the need for Net Neutrality in terms of idea-sharing or it can be about the need for fairness in business. Keep in mind that some of these examples might be suitable for a call-in show where people are talking about investing. Another might be suitable for a show about fixing your car. We need a broad range of flexible examples or analogies (Don’t underestimate the power of a sharp analogy).

When the thread is full, we will vote on the ones we think are the best. Then, we take them to the streets and win this thing.

The belief in an open exchange of ideas is a key thread in the fabric of our national identity. It is part of the competitive spirit that makes us world leaders in industry and technological innovation. It is a symbol of the faith our Founders had in us and the trust we have in ourselves to work collectively to overcome whatever challenges face us.

However, we live in an age when our traditional media is woefully unprepared to hold our leaders accountable. Our government is actively intimidating reporters and whistleblowers. We’re told the people listening in on our private conversations don’t care about our kids’ soccer practice, but it’s up to us to wonder what we might say that will trigger some hard drive to spin in some basement somewhere. We have seen an unprecedented effort by our own government to create fake news segments for the dwindling number of corporate media owners to broadcast as regular reporting. We have taxpayer dollars going to "public relations" companies who write propaganda in foreign publications, knowing full well those stories will eventually make it back to the United States.

The antidote to our poisoned media culture is an unfiltered Internet. The power of a single voice to reach as many people as are willing to listen. The ability to unite bloggers, blog readers, commenters and even the lurkers, who may make a subtle, but influential comment at the supermarket or, at a minimum, cast a critical vote in a key primary or election.

The increasing number of online citizens couples with the free flow of information over the Internet to create a force, possibly the only force, capable of filling the void that has been left by the desperate and sorry situation surrounding our traditional media. And now the powers that be are on the verge of handing control — editorial control — over to the same telcoms who have been handing over records of our communications to the government. The same companies who are counting on the FCC to relax the rules so they can get in the arena with America’s largest traditional media outlets.

The time has come for us to ensure this betrayal does not happen. It is a fundamental fight for our ability to have a voice in shaping the direction of our democracy. Last weekend’s energetic convention was a sign of one possible future. A defeat of the Snowe-Dorgan Net Neutrality bill in the Senate represents an alternate, darker future.

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