A President Obama Will Silence Catholics

Senator Obama has stated that he wants the Internet to be regulated. CNET had this exchange of a MoveOn.org member asking Senator Obama this very question:

He asked Obama: “Would you make it a priority in your first year of office to reinstate Net neutrality as the law of the land? And would you pledge to only appoint FCC commissioners that support open Internet principles like Net neutrality?”

The answer is yes,” Obama replied. “I am a strong supporter of Net neutrality.”

This “Net Neutrality” law would be something along the lines of the Fairness Doctrine. Conservapedia states that the Fairness Doctrine required broadcasters who aired material on controversial issues to provide “equal time” for the expression of opposing views.  The end result was censorship, broadcasters simply refrained from airing public affairs programing.

Assuming that Senator Obama and the Congressional Democrats were to be victorious in the 2008 Elections, we would see all types of legislative and executive actions taken against free speech.  A Federal Net Neutrality law would be enacted.

How would a this piece of legislation to require “equal time” on the Internet work a la Net neutrality?

This would only work if the Democratic Party were to win both the executive and legislative branches, then we would see the end of the wild, wild web, ie, the Internet.  Well, not that dramatic, but the immensity and profusion of content available to access would be significantly reduced.  Through legislation the Democratic Party and President Obama would make the FCC regulate the Internet by making the Internet providers ensure equality of opinion. Brian C. Anderson of Investor’s Business Daily explains this quite well (paraphrased):

…something called “network neutrality.”  (Net) Neutrality would give government overseers at the FCC the power to ensure that Internet providers treated equally all the information bits surging across the Web’s “pipes” – its cables, fiber optics, phone lines and wireless connections.

In essence this would be the equivalent of the Internets version of the Fairness Doctrine.

What would this mean to blogs and websites such as American Catholic?

We would basically shut down.  For example, the American Catholic website adheres to the teachings of the Church, such as abortion, the Sacrament of Marriage, and other hot button cultural issues that tend to be on the opposite political spectrum to the dogmatic liberalism of the Democratic Party and Senator Obama.  They would make the FCC require that the Internet provider for American Catholic offer a counter blog to ‘balance’ out American Catholic.

Essentially since this ‘counter’ blog would probably be difficult to maintain, ie, money and time costs to the Internet provider.  American Catholic, as many other Catholic websites and blogs, would have to be shut down due to these (and other circumstances).

Not just the Catholic blogosphere, but any website or blog that runs counter the world view of these liberal Democrats.  We would then have the end of free speech on the Internet.

The U.S. Constitutions Bill of Rights specifically states in the First Ammendment that expressly prohibits the United States Congress from making laws that infringe the freedom of speech and infringe the freedom of the press.  American Catholic, among many other Catholic and political websites and blogs, fall under this in the Bill of Rights.

Am I missing something here?  Is there some loophole that allows Senator Obama to think he can do this to American Catholic’s free speech rights?  Because in addition to many other important issues, I fear that once he and his cronies come in power, what will stop them from doing more in a power grab to silence the opposition?

17 Responses to A President Obama Will Silence Catholics

  1. Tito,

    I think you (or perhaps the author you’re citing) is misunderstanding what “net neutrality” means here — it is largely a technical term in favor of free speech and no restrictions on content:

    Put simply, Net Neutrality means no discrimination. Net Neutrality prevents Internet providers from blocking, speeding up or slowing down Web content based on its source, ownership or destination.

    Net Neutrality is the reason why the Internet has driven economic innovation, democratic participation, and free speech online. It protects the consumer’s right to use any equipment, content, application or service on a non-discriminatory basis without interference from the network provider. With Net Neutrality, the network’s only job is to move data — not choose which data to privilege with higher quality service.

    The counter-position is also chiefly economic — to quote from your own ‘Conservapedia’ source:

    Broadband providers want to manage more actively — and thus profitably — those information bits. They’d like to offer, for instance, new superfast delivery for sites or users willing to pay more (not unlike how FedEx speeds delivery of packages for a fee), or other new services such as online video or telephony.

    Network neutrality would render all that illegal. But why, then, should broadband investors keep building the Web infrastructure needed to keep pace with surging use? Where’s their financial incentive?

    It could be argued that if “net neutrality” were not enforced, internet content providers could effectively slow down or impede access to religious and public-service websites because they were not deemed commercially profitable.

    This is why the USCCB currently situates itself in favor of this principle:

    Bishop Kicanas urged that such protections, termed “net neutrality requirements,” be included in the Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement Act (“COPE Act”). As approved by the House Subcommittee, the COPE bill lacks net neutrality protections.

    “Those protections have particular importance for religious organizations which must rely on the Internet to convey information on matters of faith and on the services they provide to the public,” Bishop Kicanas said. “The Internet is an indispensable medium for distributing USCCB’s views on matters of public concern and on its religious teachings. The Internet was constructed as a unique medium without the editorial control functions of broadcast television, radio or cable television. The Internet is open to any speaker, commercial or noncommercial, whether or not the speech is connected financially to the company providing Internet access, whether it is popular or prophetic,” he said. “Those characteristics make the Internet critical to noncommercial religious speakers,” Bishop Kicanas said. …

    “That open environment, however, is threatened by a lack of response by Congress to the recent decision by the FCC to end the decades-old regulatory regime which fostered the unique freedom and openness of the Internet,” he continued. “When the FCC classified cable broadband service (and later telephone broadband) as an ‘information’ service, it ended more than thirty years of regulation which prohibited the companies which control the infrastructure connecting people to the Internet from interfering with the content distributed on the Internet. Unless Congress requires telephone and cable companies to act as neutral providers of Internet access, as they had been required to do since the birth and through the spectacular growth of the Internet, those companies will use their control over internet access to speed up or down connections to Web sites to benefit themselves financially.”

    At the present time, radio, broadcast television and cable television are largely closed to religious messages, Bishop Kicanas noted. “Years of deregulation and growing consolidation of the media industry have inevitably led to a hostile environment for noncommercial religious voices in broadcasting, whether in the form of short Public Service Announcements, programs on religious themes, news coverage of religious events, or local public affairs programs featuring representatives of local religious organizations. If the Internet becomes, as it inevitably will without strong protections for net neutrality, a medium where speakers must pay to deliver their messages, religious speech will be effectively barred from the Internet,” Bishop Kicanas said.

    So I’m having some difficulty seeing how an advocacy of ‘net neutrality’ actually translates into “a fairness doctrine” which mandates government censorship of all content the Obama administration presumably wouldn’t like. In fact, you couldn’t have that happen without violating the very principle under which people are supporting net neutrality as a concept.

  2. Donald R. McClarey says:

    Obama’s campaign has demonstrated on several occasions that they like attempting to silence and intimidate critics. If he is elected, I expect a full court press against all groups who stand in his way.

  3. Rebekka says:

    What would be stopping people from using servers abroad? Unless US regulations suddenly are enforced all over the planet, this wouldn’t be the end of free speech on the Internet — just on American servers.

  4. Rebekka says:

    Which is not to say that any such regulation doesn’t totally suck, but that it wouldn’t be as universal as is presented in the above post.

  5. Donald:

    Obama’s campaign has demonstrated on several occasions that they like attempting to silence and intimidate critics. If he is elected, I expect a full court press against all groups who stand in his way.

    This would be true and is already happening (pressure from the Obama campaign to silence criticism they don’t particularly like) — but this isn’t the same thing and shouldn’t be identified with the principle of “net neutrality” — I think there’s some degree of confusion or misrepresentation of what we’re talking about here.

  6. Donald R. McClarey says:

    Christopher my comment was directed in general in regard to Obama and freedom of expression and not directed towards the net neutrality issue itself. A good overview of the issue is here at the Popular Mechanics Webite.


  7. Chris Burgwald says:

    Honestly, I’m not overly concerned about blogs being shut down; while I accept Jonah Goldberg’s thesis regarding liberal fascism, I think we’re a long way from that in this country, even under an Obama presidency.

  8. That’s a great presentation of the issue — thanks, Don.

  9. Tito Edwards says:

    Christopher Blosser,

    Like the Internet, this legislative/regulatory concept is new and difficult to grasp. I can see where confusion can reign, especially in our day and age where technology is moving at such a fast pace, congressional reaction/oversight may seem confusing and misinterpreted to say the least.

    I’ll take a wait-and-see attitude while the dust settles down on this. I hope you’re right on the misconception of Net Neutrality.

  10. Irrespective of the legal nuances & technicalites, the reality is that Barack Hussein Obama, Jr., & his goose stepping minions has shown both in the US and abroad (see Kenya & Corsi being kicked out) a predeliction for silencing and attempting to legally destroy their opponents.

    See Missouri, see Chicago, etc.

  11. I may be overly optimistic, but I think any kind of serious regulation of TV, radio, print publications or blogs would never get passed — because it would so clearly be a double-edged sword and because it’s the sort of thing that would unite the civil libertarian wing of the left with nearly the entirity of the right.

  12. Carlos,

    While I think that the Obama campaign has shown a mildly disturbing tendency to try to have criticism shut down (based, I think, on a worldview that holds that those opposing them are necessarily morally and intellectually bankrupt, and a conviction that Democrats have lost in the past through not being “tough” enough) — as an editor here I need to ask you to avoid throwing around Senator Obama’s middle name (Hussein) as a pejorative and that you avoid loaded terms like “goose stepping minions”.

    It’s hard to keep a site focused on politics civil, and in order to do so we believe it will be necessary to avoid this kind of inflammatory terminology. Believe me, I don’t want to see Obama elected president at all — but we can express that without getting enflammatory.

  13. S.B. says:

    Christopher’s first comment is right: “net neutrality” has absolutely nothing to do with forcing content providers (e.g., bloggers, newspapers) to be neutral. All it means is that the internet service providers (such as AT&T or Comcast) shouldn’t block or slow down certain types of traffic. Net neutrality would mean, for example, that Comcast couldn’t block an independent VOIP (voice over internet) service like Vonage from letting people make phone calls over their internet connection. Instead, Comcast should be “neutral” towards however people are using their internet connection. That’s the basic idea.

  14. Mark DeFrancisis says:

    Just post outrageous claims, in non-inflamatory language….

    Example: this post.

  15. Eric Brown says:

    I think Christopher Blosser is a 100% correct on this matter. Sen. Obama has expressed support for Net Netruality for many of the same reasons that the American Bishops have. Net Netruality would have little effect on the internet as it currently is. In fact, opposition to net neutrality would change the internet as we know it.

    Who is advocating Net Neutrality? “The nation’s largest telephone and cable companies — including AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner — want to be Internet gatekeepers, deciding which Web sites go fast or slow and which won’t load at all. They want to tax content providers to guarantee speedy delivery of their data. They want to discriminate in favor of their own search engines, Internet phone services, and streaming video — while slowing down or blocking their competitors.”

    Essentially big corporations advocate net neutrality, not most people. It affects us. So in this regard, I think you’re mistaken on what you believe that a potential President Obama would do.

  16. Ryan Harkins says:

    To be a computer scientist and not know much about net neutrality is somewhat shaming, but then I’m a theorist. We only like to touch the real world with a long stick, and then only justify the existence of a new complexity class with a natural example.

    That aside, having spoken a little with our Systems Administrator here at the University of Wyoming Department of Computer Science, it would seem that the issue of net neutrality is almost of reverse nature to the issue of the Fairness Doctrine. Fairness is involved in both cases, but in terms of the Fairness Doctrine, we’re speaking essentially of being forced to provide products, whereas with net neutrality, we’re speaking of being forced to avoid throttling products.

    The concern is that ISP’s will grant easier access to big companies, like Google or Microsoft, and make other companies lower priority. Or perhaps that ISP’s will block certain sites, certain blocks of IP addresses. Net neutrality wants to pose limitations on how ISPs can limit customers to accessing certain sites.

    The analogy our SysAdmin used is the following: suppose we have Wal Mart, K Mart, and Target right next to each other along a strip, but the designer of the parking lot makes K Mart readily accessible, but Wal Mart and Target nearly impossible to access. That will funnel customers to K Mart and choke off business to Wal Mart and Target. Net neutrality wants to make the parking lot have equal access to Target, K Mart, and Wal Mart.

    The concerns about net neutrality are more along the following lines:

    1) Without careful crafting of law, net neutrality would make it impossible for ISP’s to block sites with illegal material, like child porn

    2) Smaller ISP’s would face a financial burden of giving equal access to low traffic sites and high traffic sites. With concerns about bandwidth and the huge amount of online games and media streaming, ISP’s would prefer to throttle access to those sites so that customers who are frequenting low-bandwidth sites don’t have to wait forever to connect.

    3) Conversely, ISP’s can get a financial edge by giving preference to certain groups, like Google, Microsoft, and other corporations. While this means slower download times on competitors like Yahoo! and Apple, it also means the ISP’s are able to provide services for less money to the customers.

    4) ISP’s would not be able to make prudent calls by throttling IP’s known to make DoS attacks, carry viruses, or contain objectionable material. This is especially true in terms of pornography in general.

    So from what I understand–and granted, there are a huge number of legal details that have been discussed, and it would probably take a year of study to understand them all–we potentially stand more to lose without net neutrality, because ISP’s could decide that, for example, it would be better business to throttle or block all IP’s associated with Catholic sites.

    On the other hand, things seem to be working fine as is, and I read that net neutrality is a “solution looking for a problem”. But remember the government motto: If it ain’t broke, fix it ’til it is.

  17. Anthony Rowe says:

    If obama, when asked a direct question, gives a straight answer… I immediatly must begin to investigate WHY he is for it, cause it can’t be a good thing.

    it deservs to be scrutinized to the fullest extent.

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