Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Hypocrisy or Cognitive Dissonance? You Decide

Tuesday's Glenn Beck show on Fox News was comedy gold, but that was probably not what Beck was going for. He was aiming to elicit outrage- sowing fear that the Government wants to take away your rights under the guise of "Net Neutrality":
"What are we doing in America? What are we doing to our freedom of speech?"

An excellent question, and one that I hope that Beck is prepared to answer himself. First, it appears that Glenn's understanding of the internet is less than stellar. Net Neutrality simply means that all the ones and zeros flowing through a provider's tubes need to be treated equally. It means that your ISP cannot discriminate against companies which offer competing services. For example: if SBC is my ISP, but I get VoIP service from Vonage, SBC has to let the Vonage data through unimpeded, despite the fact that they have their own VoIP service. Many areas of the US have little or no competition among broadband providers. If those companies use their position as monopolies to force me to buy other products and service from them, that's a bad thing.

Net Neutrality is not censorship. It is not a "Fairness Doctrine" limiting speakers or points of view. Ones and Zeros are not a finite commodity. They can be produced on demand. Transmission capacity (bandwidth) is the finite commodity of the internet. Allowing equal access to it, so that every one or zero has an equal priority is the only fair way to handle it. Net Neutrality ensures and protects free speech, rather than threaten it.

One thing that DOES threaten free speech, is attempts to take away domain names- attacks like the one Glenn Beck himself launched a month and a half ago against Isaac Eiland-Hall. Isaac registered a name for and launched a site critical of Beck- GlennBeckRapedAndMurderedAYoungGirlIn1990.com. The name is, admittedly, crude- and could be argued to be in poor taste, but one of the tenets of the First Amendment is that taste -or the lack thereof- is not a valid reason for censorship.
"What are we doing in America? What are we doing to our freedom of speech?"
What is Beck doing to our freedom of speech? He is asking an international body (the WIPO) to censor someone else's speech for the simple reason that he does not like it. Net Neutrality is not the threat to the First Amendment, Glenn Beck is.
"[He] didn't call to correct me on that one- that's weird- Oh! It must be true!"
I noticed yesterday that Beck's "White House Hotline" is back, and still silent. Also silent is the "Glenn Beck 1990 Truth Hotline." Since Beck has not called to correct the rumors, it must be true that he raped and murdered a young girl in 1990, right?

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