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Tilting at Windmills

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August 13, 2010

EXPLAINING NET NEUTRALITY IN A WAY TEA PARTIERS CAN UNDERSTAND.... Apparently, Tea Party groups and leaders have been giving net neutrality a look, and they've decided they don't like it.

A coalition that included 35 tea party groups sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Wednesday urging the agency not to boost its authority over broadband providers through a controversial process known as reclassification. [...]

The Virginia Tea Party Patriot Federation was among the groups that signed the letter. Jamie Radtke, the group's chairman, said interest in net neutrality is rising in the tea party movement. [...]

Radke said the tea party opposition to net neutrality stems from concerns over increased government power. "I think the clearest thing is it's an affront to free speech and free markets," she said.

Now, like most of this crowd's positions, that's obviously backwards. In fact, watching the Tea Partiers for a while now, there seems to be one common thread to all of their positions: seemingly well-intentioned, but deeply confused, people let their anti-government zealotry get in the way of reason.

In the case of net neutrality, the whole point of the debate is to prevent service providers from favoring some content and applications over others. In the dispute between consumers (the American public) and providers (corporate media giants), Tea Partiers have chosen to fight for the latter.

These conservatives are convinced this has something to do with free speech. That doesn't make any sense.

Let's put this in a way Tea Partiers can understand. Let's say Mr. and Mrs. Tea Party Zealot love to use the Internet for political activism -- they frequent right-wing websites, send around clips of Hannity and Limbaugh, organize right-wing events, post sycophantic praise on Sarah Palin's website, the works.

But let's say their service provider is a (cue scary music) liberal company, which contributes heavily to Democrats. The media giant that this family pays for Internet access wants to make it easy for customers to access socialist content, send around pictures of Karl Marx, coordinate with the New Black Panther Party, and send money to gay illegal immigrants, but would make it exceedingly difficult to access RedState.com, visit Glenn Beck's activist sites, access Palin's Facebook age, etc.

At that point, Mr. and Mrs. Tea Party Zealot would probably be pretty unhappy. It's not fair, they'd conclude, that some Internet content (which they don't want) is easily accessible, while other content (stuff they do want) is slow and difficult. What they'd prefer is a level playing field, where all content is equally easy to reach.

What they want, in other words, is net neutrality.

Steve Benen 3:25 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (34)

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In the dispute between consumers (the American public) and providers (corporate media giants), Tea Partiers have chosen to fight for the latter.

Well, duh. You do understand Tea Partiers are nothing more than corporate shills, right? Of course they side with corporations over consumers.

Posted by: Screamin' Demon on August 13, 2010 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

Steve,
If any Teabaggers read this, you will be guilty of MURDER!
Whatever they have that passes for brains will explode, and you, my friend, will be the cause.
Logic and Tea Partiers are like matter and anti-matter.
To descrive Net Nuetrality, I would have used plumbing reference about plugged tubes, ala the late Sen. Stevens.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on August 13, 2010 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

They are not generous enough to want a level playing field. What they want is for liberal sites to be hard to get and conservative ones easy. They know that corporate america will them the bias they want.

Posted by: Charles Snyder on August 13, 2010 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

What they'd prefer is a level playing field, where all content is equally easy to reach.

No, what they'd prefer is for all the commie pinko sites (and the far-left ISP and carriers) to be shut down, so that the ONLY THINGS ON THE WEB are RedState, Glenn Beck's site, and the Palin Facebook page.

The Authoritarian mind doesn't work like ours.

Posted by: jimBOB on August 13, 2010 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

i wonder which service provider/corporate media giant would contribute heavily to democrats...

Posted by: sadly on August 13, 2010 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

Do the TBaggers think the government should start taxing highway usage based on the contents of the truck?

Posted by: eightnine2718281828mu5 on August 13, 2010 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen wrote: "What they want, in other words, is net neutrality."

What they want, is to believe, say and do whatever Fox News and Rush Limbaugh tell them to believe, say and do.

There is one and only one thing you need to know about the "positions" that the Tea Party Ditto-Heads take:

They are mental slaves of corporate propaganda.

That's it. Period. End of story.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on August 13, 2010 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

This is how the mind of a moran works (or doesn't).

Posted by: square1 on August 13, 2010 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

I heard Huckabee interviewed on NPR this week.

He was asked about his lucrative gig with Fox News.

He responded that Fox News "had a right to free speech", especially since "the other networks" are all controlled by "the far left".

Tea Party Ditto-Heads hear drivel like that, and they nod their heads and drool.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on August 13, 2010 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

You left off ACORN from your "liberal company" provided list, dude.

Posted by: Ian on August 13, 2010 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's falling on deaf ears. The Tea Party and the conservatives will always be against whatever liberals are for, even if they once supported it (take the mandate for example).

If tomorrow the Democrats came out in favour of tax cuts for the rich, the Republicans will come out and label the Dems as not patriotic enough and start espousing that we need to actually just give money to the rich IN ADDITION to tax cuts in order to jumpstart the economy.

They will always be against you, period. So no need to explain to them.

Posted by: P-Dog on August 13, 2010 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

What they'd prefer is a level playing field, where all content is equally easy to reach.

You give them far too much credit, Steve. I don't think they believe that at all.

Controlling things and worship of authoritarianism is in their genes, and this is a zero-sum game for them. As long as they win, it's fine. In this scenario, I'm sure they think that if they support internet speed control, they'll be rewarded with faster internet speeds over dark people.

Posted by: terraformer on August 13, 2010 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

Steve writes: "Tea Partiers. . . deeply confused, people let their anti-government zealotry get in the way of reason."

Yes, and 'Reason' is just 'Treason', without the Tea. . .

Posted by: DAY on August 13, 2010 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

Gilda Radner captured the character of the people who never listen, never understand, and are deeply outraged by what they do not understand, in her "Emily Litella" commentary.
Who coulda knowed there were that many perpetually confused among us.

Posted by: thebewilderness on August 13, 2010 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

The media giant that this family pays for Internet access wants to make it easy for customers to access socialist content, send around pictures of Karl Marx, coordinate with the New Black Panther Party, and send money to gay illegal immigrants...

That's gay illegal TERROR BABY immigrants, pal!

Posted by: Cap'n Chucky on August 13, 2010 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

The gay illegal terror baby immigrants were seeking abortions. Get it right.

Posted by: Anonymous At Work on August 13, 2010 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

Teabaggers all unite in their contempt for and their opposition to...fairness.

Posted by: Daddy Love on August 13, 2010 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

For those who present a semblance of resistance , causing stress to the thin skinned uber sensitive Tea Baggeur , there is no such thing as excess in relieving said stress .
There once existed a guaranteed cockroach defense strategy and elimination routine . This was sold with the Tea Baggeur in mind . For one dollar and ninety nine cents or nineteen dollars and ninety nine cents you would receive two blocks of pine with the dimensions at or about , two" by four" by six" . The invaluable instructions directed the owner to place the cockroach on one the two pieces of pine , and then to strike firmly with the remaining piece of wood .
The absolute beauty of this guaranteed system was at least as attractive as the logic in resisting a government of the people , by the people , and for the people with government by corporate fiat .
The ease with which any position takes on a personality from retail goods , to up or down , Al Gore traveling in anything that produces greenhouse gasses , is designated not the far left , but the far far left with the occasional loon , moon , or worse attached comfortingly . Is it worth even mentioning that the calm waters of the centrist Tea Baggeur would find comity only amongst the Eisenhower era John Birch Society that fought against fluoridating the water amongst its more practical and less deadly original thinking ?
So lets hoist our cups to the implacable enemy of civilization , Hail Knights of the woeful countenance .

Posted by: FRP on August 13, 2010 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

What they want to do is turn the Net into cable and have tiered pricing and ultimately rip off consumers. More and more content is on the web and they want a piece

Posted by: BurghMan on August 13, 2010 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

I suspect what the Tea Partiers really want is to make sure their guys own the ISP (more likely the case than other way around, anyway) and are in a position to favor Tea Party faves while blocking or impeding unfavorable.

Posted by: Dave on August 13, 2010 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

Not that I think any rational argument would convince them, but I think you're on the wrong tack here. Just as they are absolutely certain that tax cuts never cause deficits, they are absolutely certain that The Free Market(tm) in the absence of government regulation will always produce the best result for everyone, so any government regulation can only make it worse. Yes, they may want the kind of access you're talking about, but that just means that of course the free market will provide it, and the kind of constraints you're talking about just wouldn't happen (despite any evidence to the contrary, just as with taxes, etc.)

So explaining to them how they want net neutrality is pointless; yes, they want what is conceptually net neutrality, but they're passionately opposed to Net Neutrality, because that's a liberal effort to have government ensure it, which therefore must be an assault on their Freedom(tm).

Posted by: Redshift on August 13, 2010 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

Idiots.. My partner may get an offer from a Vancouver entity which I can not mention here. Please, please, please! Forces of nature, candles and bullshit spiritualism, hear my plea!!!

Posted by: Trollop on August 13, 2010 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

My take is slightly different. You say it's just as likely that the corporation censoring speech would be liberal as conservative. I sorta doubt it. The fact that the tea party opposes net neutrality and corporations do as well is no accident. The tea party just happens to favor all sorts of things that Republicans and corporations love, but it's filtered through a lingo of I hate Washington that makes it sound folksy and populist. What exactly is new about this, I'm not sure.

Posted by: clb72 on August 13, 2010 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

It always amazes me how corporations are completely invisible to these people. It's this libertarian idea that the only power is government power. There's no such thing as private power, and it's just inconceivable that the actions and policies of private corporations could ever infringe on anyone's freedom.

Posted by: Stephen Stralka on August 13, 2010 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

It always amazes me how corporations are completely invisible to these people.

There's an easy explanation for that: corporate personhood. The legal doctrine that has allowed corporations to behave like swine (meaning no offense to swine) has made these entities look just like little helpless sole-proprietorships to the teabaggers.

They think: Poor little BP, being made to cough up all that money, just because of a little oil in the Gulf, without stopping to think that BP is tens of thousands of workers and billions in assets because BP benefits from corporate personhood. This also explains how they can be POd at Washington for not cleaning up the oil in the Gulf: it isn't BP's spill any more now that it's big and nasty and washing up onshore.

It's the same with the Internet. They just don't understand that nearly every mile (if not absolutely every mile) of service is in private ownership, because people - even corporate persons - just can't own that much so it has to be a gummint thing.

Posted by: boatboy_srq on August 13, 2010 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

"Now, like most of this crowd's positions, that's obviously backwards."

Further evidence that the American RightWing came here from Bizarro World.

Posted by: Joe Friday on August 13, 2010 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

I get the obvious point but..."liberal company, which contributes heavily to Democrats. The media giant that this family pays for Internet access wants to make it easy for customers to access socialist content, send around pictures of Karl Marx, coordinate with the New Black Panther Party, and send money to gay illegal immigrants,..."-Benen...

But Steve, you just gave these goobers the support they needed to link liberals and Democrats to Karl Marx (who is more linked to communism), Black Panthers and illegal immigrants... and all that without even linking Sarah Palin to the Black Widdow or Chemical Ali.

The tea party has proven over and over again that they are merely the lunatic fringe of the republican party and like their candidates will do exactly what the corporate lobbyists tell them to do. Next they'll be saying, "We don't want the federal govmunt telling us which laws we can break and which we can't" while calling themselves the law and order party.

When confronted with facts they simply ignore them and go on believing what they want to believe or simply change the subject...just like congressional republicans.

Posted by: bjobotts on August 13, 2010 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

Has anyone seen a survey on whether Tea Baggers actually drink tea?

I'll bet they can't stand the stuff.

Posted by: cld on August 13, 2010 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

In fact, I'll bet that of all groups surveyed it will be Tea Baggers who like it least of all.

Posted by: cld on August 13, 2010 at 7:46 PM | PERMALINK

I'm surprised Fox opposes Net Neutrality. Comcast (a cable company and ISP) is merging with NBC. If it goes through, Comcast will have a vested financial interest in MSNBC and have reason to make msnbc.com load and run really fast, and foxnews.com be very slow.

Posted by: Isaac Hill on August 13, 2010 at 11:40 PM | PERMALINK

Has anyone seen a survey on whether Tea Baggers actually drink tea?

If they did some research, they would find Kenya is an exporter of tea. I do believe they are second largest in the world. Ask them if they have tried the Obama blend.

Posted by: flyonthewall on August 14, 2010 at 5:42 AM | PERMALINK

following on from isaac hill....in my neck o the woods, time warner, which owns cnn is an internet provider...do teabaggers want them to have the right to clog access to fauxnews.com?

magic eight ball sez "no"

Posted by: dj spellchecka on August 14, 2010 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

cld,

Has anyone seen a survey on whether Tea Baggers actually drink tea?

They don’t drink tea, they drink the Purple Kool-Aid.

Posted by: Joe Friday on August 14, 2010 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

the bird in England is, and how long it's been in England? Thanks for the replies

Posted by: Bird Watching on January 14, 2011 at 8:33 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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