Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!
Let's talk about the importance of net neutrality and trusted news sources. Combined, they are an essential part of the American political process. In the case of net neutrality, it is directly connected to free speech. (You know, that thing that conservatives go on about being an absolute right.) Net neutrality is also essential to the existence of small businesses--a big part of America's economy. In the case of trusted news sources...well...we all know the problems around allowing opinion to taint news. Don't we? And yet, conservatives are all about stripping these things. Particularly the current head the FCC: Ajit Pai.
Let's start with this article: Ready for Trump TV? Inside Sinclair Broadcasting’s Plot to Take Over Your Local News. That should give you the heebie-jeebies. How many of you have brainwashed relatives who subsist on Fox News? How much more difficult are our lives going to be when all news is Fox News? Even more importantly, YOU ARE NOT IMMUNE TO FAKE NEWS.
I've seen a number of laments along the lines of "the success of Fake news is the result of a failure in the average American's education. Americans are too gullible and stupid now." Horse shit. Intelligent people are not immune to conspiracy theories. This is why we used to have laws designed to prevent opinion from bleeding into facts reported on the news. I remember a speech Ronald Reagan gave in the early '80s. It was around the same time he was spouting that lovely Welfare Queen myth and the $500 toilet seat story. (I think it was a toilet seat. It may have been a hammer.) I remember Reagan saying that he was abolishing needless Federal laws like the one restricting the news. "Because Americans are smart. Smart enough to discern the difference between fact and opinion." You know what's wrong with that statement? Human beings can be manipulated. They can even be successfully lied to. Intelligence has nothing to do with that. We all fucking know this. Can we stop telling ourselves otherwise? Every successful con starts with a mark who thinks they can't be fooled. If it were easy to sort the difference, Google, Twitter, and Facebook wouldn't have a fake news problem.
We also need anti-trust laws. Specifically, we need FCC anti-trust laws that prevent the consolidation of media and the influence of foreign powers.
As if that weren't bad enough, Ajit Pai is proposing to gut Net Neutrality.
I don't know about you, but I've been increasingly frustrated with the constant push to rid America of a) Obamacare and b) net neutrality. It's like today's Republicans are creepy, entitled white males pressuring a woman for sex. They push the same damned agenda over and over and over in various ways in the hopes that eventually the a yes. Americans know this shit is a bad idea. Americans don't want net neutrality appealed. They don't want their Health Care repealed either. Republicans government know this. They're just pretending otherwise. In fact, they're doing everything in their power to make it seem otherwise. (Remember when Paul Ryan ran a phone survey on healthcare and how it was deliberately constructed to get the answer he wanted?) So..here we are again.
Why is net neutrality important? One of the main reasons Republicans haven't been able to control the US in the way they wish is because of the internet. Individual Americans have been able to repeatedly and effectively combat Republican attempts to remove the ACA among other things primarily because we're able to organize and act so swiftly. Free speech isn't just about stating your opinions. It's about being able to protest and resist bad laws. Control what people see on the internet by slowing down certain sites and you control protest.
In addition, small businesses require the internet to compete with mega corporations. The death of net neutrality kills small businesses. I'm not just talking about that small shop on the corner. I'm talking about crafters who sell their wares on Etsy. People who sell to collectors. Artists and writers. We're all in danger of this impacting our livelihoods. In the "Gig economy", this is extremely dangerous. (Not that I'm a fan of the concept. If you ask me pressuring everyone to be freelancers was an excuse for corporations to not pay benefits as well as dodge justified safety regulations and other worker protections.)
All in all, America, things are getting more and more scary out there. Let's not let this one slip through.
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is a Science Fiction and Fantasy author living in Texas.