Friday, December 1, 2017

The crazies at LifeSiteNews managed to find a crazier person to explain net neutrality

Daniel John Sobieski is a rather prolific writer in Tea Party circles. Sobieski has two active Twitter accounts that seem to re-tweet each other. I have been unable to find out who, or what, this guy is — other than a self-promoting Internet persona who is an apologist for Donald Trump. According to one of his Twitter accounts, Sobieski is a pro-life Catholic which is all LifeSiteNews needs to know to deem him an expert.

Net neutrality is a very simple concept. It prohibits ISPs from preferencing anyone's traffic over anyone else's traffic. In other words the big carriers like Verizon and Comcast cannot block or throttle the path to some content. Nor can they provide a superhighway to other content. Competing content is preferenced by the consumer rather than the ISP.

I hate to be a cynic but there could be considerable economic incentives to treating traffic in a way that favors one company over a competitor Let's say, for example, that your connection to Bing was two to three times faster than a connection to Google. Your ISP is, in effect, shaping a consumer preference for Bing, presumably because it receives compensation for doing so from Microsoft.

Well this is all part of some sinister conspiracy according to the incurious and uninformed Sobieski. His polemic is titled “President Obama’s net neutrality is a globalist tool for control. It must be repealed
.” According to this bit of crackpottery:
Liberals oppose the free flow of information they can’t control and in the name of providing equal access to all they sought to regulate the access of everybody. They., in effect, sought to put toll booths and speed bumps on the information superhighway.
Huh? Since the rules were put in place, where exactly are these toll booths and speed bumps? If anything, net neutrality prevents consumers from encountering speed bumps to content disfavored by the consumer's ISP. Ah, but as you might have guessed the conspiracy goes much deeper and gets much more sinister:
President Obama feared the free flow of information as a threat to his power grabs and attempt to fundamentally transform the United States. Just as cable news eliminated the old guard network’s role as gatekeepers of what we saw and heard, the Internet freed information consumers to seek the truth and speak their minds in an unfettered environment.
Huh? Net neutrality essentially guarantees the free flow of information. It is that “unfettered environment” that net neutrality seeks to maintain. Connectivity does not depend upon the ideology of, or incentives to, your ISP. As it stands, someone like Sobieski (were he the unlikely head of an ISP) cannot make it difficult, or even impossible, to connect to Planned Parenthood. Would we want our political campaign connections dependent upon the affiliation of ISP executives?

This gets even more idiotic and conspiratorial:
Under net neutrality, the FCC took for itself the power to regulate how Internet providers manage their networks and how they serve their customers. The FCC would decide how and what information could flow through the Internet, all in the name of providing access to the alleged victims of corporate greed.
Huh? The FCC does not decide, in any shape or form, “what information could flow through the internet.” Is this person insane?
The Internet, perhaps as much as the first printing press, has freed the minds of men from the tyranny of those gatekeepers who know that if you can control what people say and know, you can control the people themselves. And that is what President Obama feared. In a May 2010 commencement speech to graduates at Hampton University in Virginia, President Obama complained that too much information is actually a threat to democracy.
Huh? It's tyranny I tells ya. Obviously this guy hasn't so much as a clue about what net neutrality does because it is the exact opposite of his conspiracy theories. He actually goes on to supposedly quote President Obama:
“With iPods and iPads and Xboxes and PlayStations -- none of which I know how to work -- information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a means of emancipation…”
Here is the complete quote:
You’re coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don’t always rank that high on the truth meter. And with iPods and iPads, and Xboxes and PlayStations — none of which I know how to work — information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation. So all of this is not only putting pressure on you; it’s putting new pressure on our country and on our democracy.
There is nothing evil expressed in that statement and — obviously — it has nothing whatsoever to do with any aspect of net neutrality. He is suggesting that people are now compelled to determine the credibility and truthfulness of the information they receive. Sobieski's piece provides the perfect example because he is claiming that net neutrality is just the opposite of what it really is. He is doing so, presumably, for political advantage — a means of praising Trump. I will quote just one more paragraph before I skip to the conclusion. You can read the piece in full if you care to do so:
In George Orwell’s classic 1984, the control of information and its flow was critical to “Big Brother” maintaining is control over the people and in manipulating their passions. Authoritarian governments and dictators worldwide know that lesson well. Now the Obama administration wants globalists to be the “Big Brother” of the Internet.
The problem with all of this is that Sobieski is imposing a belief system which is based upon ideology. It is free of any evidence that net neutrality does, in fact, create control of information. Yet, absent even a coherent argument to that effect, we are already at Orwell. And the conclusion to all of this:
Net neutrality was not designed to liberate but to suppress. It is the Fairness Doctrine of the Internet that like Obama’s war on Fox News and conservative talk radio is designed to marginalize and silence those who disagree with those in power.
It is just naked statements free of argument and free of evidence. It is free of facts as well. Every supposedly factual building block of this essay has been incorrect. It is a regurgitation of right wing rhetoric demonstrating an utter lack of intellectual curiosity. The lack of curiosity creates a loss of critical thinking skills because every utterance is predicated on incorrect assumptions.

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