Tuesday, February 20, 2007

"A Series of Tubes"

watch John "I'm a PC" Hodgeman explain the Net Neutrality issue with Jon Stewart

This Wednesday I'll be meeting with the freshman Rep. from our district in Brooklyn, Yvette Clarke, as a representative of Save the Internet, to discuss Net Neutrality. I'm going because I was asked, and because I think that Net Neutrality ties in with a lot of issues that many may think are more important, such as the war in Iraq, post-Katrina New Orleans, the economy, and global warming.

One of the reasons why there is such a groundswell of pubic opinion on such crucial issues of our time is that more people are better informed. They are better informed, I would argue, not because of the mainstream media, but because of bloggers and online independent media. Do you think we'd have half the knowledge we have of, for example, NSA wiretapping, the Downing Street Memo, torture in American POW camps, the genocide in Darfur, extreme rendition, the Abramoff / Libby / Foley (etc.) scandals, or the deplorable non-progress in the Gulf Coast if we relied solely on FOX News, Disney, or GE for our information?

Net Neutrality is therefore a big issue, and one that the Blue Congress needs to lock down and affirm once and for all, before the corporate-fed mass media bury it under pressure from our corporate administration in Washington. If it weren't for the online grassroots movement, big telcom operators would already be preventing you from viewing some of the content you're used to accessing online. Many of the outlets that we link to from DR would be among the restricted or nearly-inaccessible sites if Ted Stevens had been able to hand over the "series of tubes" to the full control of big telcom. These include:

  • IndyMedia, the fearless online radio organization whose headline stories always reach a few layers deeper than the mass media dare to tread.

  • Democracy Now! This is what TV News would look like in a naturally ordered society free of oppression or corporate greed. Amy Goodman is one of the treasures of our nation.

  • The Blogosphere: Check our Blogroll in the sidebar; most of the entries you find there would be either restricted or outright suffocated in the Ted Stevens world of corporate-owned bandwidth. Sure, a few big presences such as Daily Kos, Moveon.org, and Huffington Post—sites with a combination of private funding and advertising revenue—would survive in the era of a big-telcom Internet. But the truly grassroots voices and visions would all be repressed. We would most likely lose the likes of Digby and Juan Cole, Dahr Jamail, and maybe even Eric Alterman. These latter are the people who have been telling us what's really happening in Iraq, Palestine, within the neocon mass media, and providing the insight and perspective that made last November possible.

    So this is why Net Neutrality matters, and why I ask you, no matter your political affiliation (right, left, center, or don't-give-a-damn) to sign the petition, call your legislators, and tell your neighbors why Net Neutrality matters, and why we need a free and open Internet—because it is practically all we have left of what we once knew as democracy.


    Thanks again--and again: I just had a look at the web stats and was stunned. In a short month and with ten days still to go, we've set a record for monthly page views--more than 15,000 through the 18th. As I've said before, Terry and I would probably write and spout on a desert island with no one to listen except the coconuts. But having people like you around sure makes it more fun and fulfilling. Many, many thanks to you all, and if you have advice, criticism, or questions for us, use the Comments link.

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