This is a disheartening, though not unexpected, tweet from Tumblr’s Andrew McLaughlin this weekend:
“Democrats: Don’t cede the future! GOP is starting to steal the pro-Internet, pro-innovation, pro-free-speech agenda…”
I guess this is either a freak-out of sorts, or an alter-world response to the fact that significant numbers of conservative activists helped progressives last month ensure that Congress didn’t “break the Internet” through its proposed (and now defeated) anti-piracy bills, SOPA / PIPA.
Not sure that such a “thanks” engenders trust, but, hey, knock yourself out, Andrew.
As to the facts of his statement, either he’s not a student of history, or he’s pushing some sort of propaganda to make his progressive troops soldier on, confident – in a middle-child kind of way – that they, and only they, propel the Internet’s onward progress.
Lean forward, my progressive friends, and let me cut you in on a secret that might shock ya’.
The law that that unleashed the Internet (e.g., the Telecom Act of 1996) came out of a GOP Congress, and passed overwhelmingly in a bi-partisan manner. Sure, it was also signed by a Democrat. But, taking its “pro-competitive, de-regulatory national policy framework” to heart, it was a GOP-led FCC, which opened the floodgates of Internet growth by ensuring that information services – a.k.a. Internet access – remained unregulated, keeping them out of the clutches of innovation-killing, 60-year-old telephone regulations.
Trillions of dollars of growth and innovation at the Internet’s core and edge ensued as a consequence, giving us the medium that we know and love today.
I’ll tell ya’ what isn’t pro-Internet and pro-innovation, though. It’s Net Neutrality regulations. Those weren’t imposed by the GOP, however. No. Those were McLaughlin’s and his partisan friends’ doing.
Net Neutrality regulations essentially confiscate the property of network providers, telling them what they or may not do with their private property. It even tells them who must be allowed to “speak” over their networks, forbidding network owners from favoring any type of content over others – almost in direct opposition of the 1st Amendment’s plain reading. Quite simply, they’re a throw-back to last century’s stifling telephone regulations.
Of course, these aren’t the only ironies of McLauglin’s nonsensical tweet. Perhaps even more profoundly ironic is how the SOPA / PIPA defeat came about. You see, it’s no secret that the progressive crowd – of which McLaughlin is a proud member – doesn’t believe corporations have free speech rights. Yet, last month’s anti-piracy legislation defeat couldn’t have occurred without CORPORATIONS like Google and Tumblr using their 1st Amendment rights to sink the bills.
You can thank conservatives – not progressives – that those Rights were still available and not shut down to produce “fair and equitable,” “pro-democratic,” speech-policed results.
Right-of-center groups have long been at the forefront of the Internet’s pro-growth, innovation and free speech vanguard. We’ve urged that the Internet thrives best with a minimum of rules and regulations – rules that have proven to stifle investment, innovation and healthy competition. We’ve striven for the proper protection of property that underpins the Internet’s ongoing development and true beauty. And, we’ve stressed the importance of keeping the medium free from speech regulation, the latter which threatens the very intellectual undercarriage that makes the Internet such a bright promise for human thought, welfare and development.
It’d be nice that McLaughlin could lean forward and hear a little bit of that himself. Perhaps then next time, when he’s girding his progressive supplicants for the fight, he might actually say something respectful that inspires those on the other side of the aisle to join in the battle.
But, if it’s the same old “progressives are the saviors of the world, and conservatives are dumb and evil,” then count me out. Not only is that offensive, it’s just plain ignorant and wrong.
Andrew, the future was already ceded a long time ago. And it was conservatives who won it. Your tweet has it exactly opposite.