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For the majority of people, net neutrality What Is Net Neutrality & Why Should I Care? What Is Net Neutrality & Why Should I Care? A significant number see Net Neutrality as essential to the survival of the Internet. In this article, we're going to look at why Net Neutrality matters, and why we should fight to protect it. Read More is a no-brainer: ISPs should treat all traffic equally. There’s no good reason to allow Comcast or Verizon, for example, to intentionally make Netflix faster than, say, YouTube just because money changed hands.

There’s bipartisan support for this concept: in the USA, 85 per cent of Republicans and 81 per cent of Democrats oppose paid “Internet fast lanes”. It’s just a given. Something obvious and uncontroversial.

But for an incredibly small-but-vocal minority – idiots, mostly – net neutrality is an evil, liberal, socialist,  communist conspiracy. Typically they tend to sit on the Republican side of the fence, although it’s worth reiterating that the majority of Republican voters support net neutrality.

With the panic of Paul Revere and the mouth-foaming fanaticism of Alex Jones, these politicians and journalists have openly decried net neutrality on the public record. The problem is, what they said makes it pretty obvious that they have no idea what net neutrality even is. Here are some of the most idiotic statements said by public figures on the subject of network neutrality, and why they’re so wrong.

Jeb Bush

Jeb’s often called “the smart Bush”, and for the most part, that’s absolutely true. But a Bush is still a Bush, and given enough rope and a microphone, will inevitably say something utterly idiotic.

netneutrality-bush

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Earlier this year, Jebya was at a town-hall in Des Moines, Iowa when he was asked his opinion on the recent FCC ruling that, for the most part, mandated net neutrality.

“The idea of regulating access to the Internet with a 1934 law is one of the craziest ideas I’ve ever heard. … It’s not going to be good for consumers. It’s certainly not going to be good for innovation.”

Jeb was referring to the Communications Act of 1934, which effectively mandated some mediums as “common carriers”, and unable to discriminate in how they deliver a service. The problem with this piece of legislation was that it was medium-specific, mentioning radio, telephones and others.

This is a pretty ridiculous argument for Bush to make. The existence of this common carrier legislation hasn’t, for example, made the phone system unworkable. There’s no evidence, either, that suggests allowing ISPs to block and slow legitimate content results in more innovation or customer satisfaction. You’d expect the opposite to be true, right?

All in all, I’m pretty surprised Bush is so stridently against a sensible internet policy, especially when he’s been so fiercely touting his tech-friendly credentials. Just check out this cringe-inducing campaign video, where he attempts to court the high-tech digerati of Silicon Valley.

David Asman (Fox News)

You knew Fox News was going to come up, right? Here’s “Forbes on Fox” anchor David Asman on network neutrality:

“Make no mistake. The greatest tool for freedom of expression to come along in our lifetime is in danger. One cannot have genuine freedom of expression with a government monitor, an overseer, a censor prepared to immediately shut down any “threats” to the state.”

By that, you could assume he’s referring to some Gadaffiesque legislation that would allow the government to arbitrarily wrest control of the Internet. But no, he’s referring to that pesky FCC judgement How the Web Won on Net Neutrality: 5 Key Moments How the Web Won on Net Neutrality: 5 Key Moments It does looks like net neutrality will reign, at least for a while. Let's take a look back at some of the most important moments in this battle. Read More again.

Incidentally, there’s nothing about a “government overseer” or shutting down the Internet in that 400 page FCC document. Rather, it prevents ISPs from throttling and blocking legitimate traffic and prohibits ISPs from charging websites for faster access. Again, all reasonable stuff that polling shows most Americans agree on.

Ted Stevens

Ted Stevens was a beloved senator from Alaska  – and in speaking to Alaskans, I’ve gotten the idea that people from both sides of the political fence generally liked him. He did a lot for the state.

So it’s a pity that his legacy has been forever been tainted by one ill thought-out speech on Net Neutrality.

“Ten movies streaming across that, that Internet, and what happens to your own personal Internet? I just the other day got… an Internet was sent by my staff at 10 o’clock in the morning on Friday. I got it yesterday. Why? Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the Internet commercially. They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the Internet.

And again, the Internet is not something that you just dump something on. It’s not a big truck. It’s a series of tubes. And if you don’t understand, those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and it’s going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material.”

Overnight, “series of tubes” became a meme. For net neutrality advocates, it was the perfect vindication. It exemplified how archaic and clueless their opponents were. Steven’s misspeak spawned new words, like “Intertubes”, and t-shirts and even a couple of dance remixes.

Stevens will be remembered for many things by Alaskans, but online saying “series of tubes” might become his most enduring legacy.

Rand Paul

Rand Paul is one of the frontrunners in the Republican race. The Kentucky senator is already very much a Silicon Valley darling, having vigorously opposed NSA surveillance. He even accepts Bitcoin donations Currency Of The Revolution, Or Tool For Online Vendors? The Many Faces Of Bitcoin [Feature] Currency Of The Revolution, Or Tool For Online Vendors? The Many Faces Of Bitcoin [Feature] It's become an annual event: the fall of Bitcoin. You've probably read about it multiple times, and maybe even believe that the online, decentralized currency is already gone forever. It isn't. Created by a mysterious,... Read More .

Official Portrait

As a libertarian, Paul is very much against any kind of government intervention. You expect that. But it’s still kinda strange and lamentable that he holds such anti-net neutrality views.

“These attempts to regulate the Internet are a direct attack on the freedom of information and an innovative market. The government needs to stay out of the way.”

Again, the FCC’s Net Neutrality rules have nothing to do with freedom of information. In fact, they prevent ISPs from blocking legitimate content. So, the exact opposite of what Rand Paul is yammering on about, then.

Glenn Beck

Between 2009 and 2011, Glenn Beck hosted the Glenn Beck Show on Fox News. It was perhaps the strangest two years of television, ever. Beck became known for his stalwart opposition to the Obama administration, as well as his penchant for conspiracy theories.

One episode in 2009, he came to the subject of Net Neutrality. Here’s what he had to say:

“… And everyone should have it. I don’t remember anyone in the 1930s saying everyone had a right to radio, and we gave away free radios from the government. And I don’t remember anyone in the 1950s saying everyone deserves a free television…”

Except nobody is advocating for free computers or free Internet access – that’s an entirely separate argument. Rather, we’re talking about treating all network traffic equally. It’s entirely different.

Donald Trump

Yeah… No.

The Fairness Doctrine was an FCC policy of the late 40’s that forced broadcasters to present issues in a way that was fair, balanced, and truthful. Net neutrality has nothing to do with that.

Incidentally, Donald Trump might be the next president of the United States, and it’s all your fault Clicking Consequences: Why Donald Trump Is Your Fault Clicking Consequences: Why Donald Trump Is Your Fault Every time you click an article about Donald Trump, the media thinks that is what you want to read, and so it spends more time talking about Trump. Stop clicking! Read More .

Slaying A Strawman

The problem with net neutrality is that it’s so inherently sensible, so obviously obvious, it’s hard to argue against it on its own basis.

I mean, it’s hard to argue against stoping Comcast or Time Warner from throttling their biggest digital rivals, like Amazon Prime Video and Netflix. There’s no good argument for letting Verizon, for example, block content critical that is of Verizon.

So, as we’ve seen time and time again, in order to argue against net neutrality, you have to turn it into something it isn’t. You have to misrepresent it, and turn it into an evil, surreptitious plot to wrest control of the Internet. That’s called a strawman fallacy The MakeUseOf Toolkit Against Online Trolls [Part 1] The MakeUseOf Toolkit Against Online Trolls [Part 1] How many Internet arguments have you witnessed? Or better yet, how many Internet arguments have you participated in? I visit a number of forums and communities on a daily basis, and I see arguments all... Read More .

For us to have a serious debate on this subject, we need these public figures to engage with reality, and talk about net neutrality for what is, not just what the fringe elements of the political right wish it would be.

But what do you think? Pro net-neutrality or against, I want to hear your thoughts. Let me know in the comments below.

Photo Credits: Governor of Florida Jeb Bush, Announcement Tour and Town Hall, Adams Opera House, Derry, New Hampshire  (Michael Vadon)

  1. Bob C.
    August 31, 2015 at 8:07 am

    If you are going to write an article with an unbiased view, then you should have also shown statements by the Democrats since more were against it.

    You lose ALL credibility when you write a one-sided article like this in supposedly politically neutral site. It makes the amateurs at the Examiner and National Enquirer look like superb writers compared to you.

    • Matthew Hughes
      August 31, 2015 at 1:21 pm

      In terms of voters, absolutely. More republicans support net neutrality than democrats. That's a fact.

      But that wasn't the point of the article. It was about public figures who don't understand net neutrality. Overwhelmingly, the people who have said idiotic things about Net Neutrality sit on the GOP side of the fence.

      I don't feel I should make an artificial balance when there isn't one.

  2. Neil Davis
    August 30, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    The author of this article clearly has no idea how government works. Bunch of liberal BS. Did he just copy and paste from salon or huffington post articles? If the author was a credible journalist he would have listened to what each of those guys say completely about the subject for opening his liberal mouth. Not a single one of those guys have ever come out in support of ISPs playing favorites. What they have come out against is the government getting involved. Government ruins things. Kind of like this author adding a bunch of liberal propaganda ruins his credibility. They support free markets and believe the government cannot be trusted, which they can't. How about this author do some of his own research before publishing a bunch of BS like this. Matthew Hughes, you are an idiot. Go on wanting your big government and government control of everything. You buy the liberal lie. You're just a sheep. Why don't you try quoting each one of those you blasted and share direct quotes where they say they support traffic not equal. Pathetic journalism. This is just huffington post spin.

    • Matthew Hughes
      August 30, 2015 at 12:47 pm

      > "Did he just copy and paste from salon or huffington post articles?"

      Yes.

      • Mihir Patkar
        August 30, 2015 at 2:18 pm

        Matty's a notorious copy-paster. Why, just the other day, he copy-pasted some 2000-odd words about how iPods are helping those who suffer from dementia. http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/ipods-old-songs-treat-dementia/

        • Matthew Hughes
          August 30, 2015 at 4:17 pm

          Matthew Hughes is a shoddy journalist, and should most definitely be fired.

        • Mihir Patkar
          August 30, 2015 at 5:05 pm

          DOWN WITH MATTHEW HUGHES! KEEEL HIM!

        • xBalesx
          August 30, 2015 at 5:32 pm

          Sad to see the responses from MUO writers...mocking is your approach? Have you read the "rules"? Who gets to define what the words in the rules mean?

          Can you explain why you support more government regulation by citing examples of people that were harmed because these regulations were not in place?

          Do you seriously refer to yourself as a journalist? Journalists report facts without bias and opinion. Lots of bias and opinion can be found in your article.

          Let me guess...you're going to mock my response. Sad and pathetic.

        • Matthew Hughes
          August 30, 2015 at 5:57 pm

          > "Can you explain why you support more government regulation by citing examples of people that were harmed because these regulations were not in place?"

          How about the plethora of regulation that covers food safety? Or vehicle safety? Or aviation safety?

          The list goes on and on and on and on. We can thank government regulation for safer cars, and food that isn't filled with carcinogens and arsenic. I love me some government regulation.

          > "Do you seriously refer to yourself as a journalist?"

          Yes.

          > "Journalists report facts without bias and opinion."

          Good to know.

          > "Let me guess…you’re going to mock my response."

          Probably.

        • xBalesx
          August 31, 2015 at 3:48 am

          Stay on topic Matt, you wrote this journalistic piece right? In case of a short memory, the questions are related to Net Neutrality, not the regulation of foods.

          Thank you for the mocking and inability to own-up to writing an opinion, biased blog post. Good luck in the future, unfortunately MUO is losing a daily visitor. If I wanted opinion pieces I would visit opinion websites. I used to come here for tech facts...

          Do you have the ability to write a factual piece without the bias and opinion? If yes, then call yourself a journalist. Until then, try finding your favorite politician, issue, personality and doing opposition research then write and publish an article about them/it.

          Sad you couldn't even address the simple questions I asked with honesty and facts, it reveals a lot. Again, good luck.

          Sincerely,
          Daily Visitor NoMore

        • Matthew Hughes
          August 31, 2015 at 1:19 pm

          Except your question wasn't explicitly about net neutrality. Let me refresh your memory.

          > "“Can you explain why you support more government regulation by citing examples of people that were harmed because these regulations were not in place?”"

          Not one mention of net neutrality.

          > "Do you have the ability to write a factual piece without the bias and opinion?"

          My piece was factual. I didn't misquote anyone, or take anyone out of context. The reason why everyone listed here is a Republican is because no Democrats have said anything particularly idiotic about Net Neutrality. I don't believe I should create an artificial balance when there isn't one.

          I'm sorry you feel that way, but I stand by my piece.

          > "Sincerely, Daily Visitor NoMore"

          That's a funny name...

        • Mihir Patkar
          August 30, 2015 at 6:12 pm

          Mocking is our approach when someone launches into a personal attack without looking for debate or substantiating their claims in any way.

          Neil called Matthew an idiot, a sheep, insinuated plagiarism, and questioned his credibility. If you read Matthew's comments in his other articles, you'll find that he often gives detailed and elaborate responses when someone is actually engaging him in a debate. This was just an attack, it got unnecessarily personal, and rather than ignore it, we decided to have some fun with it. Because hey, it's Sunday!

  3. Bart Miller
    August 29, 2015 at 9:49 pm

    Politicians and bureaucrats never lie and never abuse their power therefore anyone who says otherwise clearly has "no clue". And we can definitely trust Obama fundraiser and FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler but we shouldn't trust FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai because he clearly does not understand Net Neutrality..

    • Mary Brady
      August 30, 2015 at 3:46 am

      Jocularity, jocularity, jocularity.

    • Mihir Patkar
      August 30, 2015 at 5:34 am

      Where's that sarcasm emoticon when you need it...

  4. Jonathan Vick
    August 28, 2015 at 9:02 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I can now direct people to your article instead of explaining this endlessly.

    • Matthew Hughes
      August 30, 2015 at 12:51 pm

      My pleasure! Hope it comes in useful!

  5. Trippy Eggos
    August 28, 2015 at 6:59 pm

    A point I would like to make here is I think a lot of people don't understand what net neutrality is. I think few people care enough to look in to it, or maybe they don't have the time to do so. I think this article pretty much clears that up when it says:

    "Again, the FCC’s Net Neutrality rules have nothing to do with freedom of information. In fact, they prevent ISPs from blocking legitimate content. So, the exact opposite of what Rand Paul is yammering on about, then."

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