Monday, November 17, 2014

What Net Neutrality Means to Your Dog

Net neutrality.

What is it?

I can let Wikipedia explain it. Or I can let The Oatmeal explain it, which frankly is a lot more fun (and makes more effective use of crab tacos than Wikipedia).

Personally, I prefer my crabs and tacos separately,
but that's neither here nor here.
In a nutshell, however (or a crab shell or even a taco shell), net neutrality means that when it comes to the internet, content providers control the content, and internet service providers control the service. Period. ISPs can charge for faster connections or better reliability, but they have to provide the same internet to everyone. They can't make parts of it faster for customers who pay more, or charge websites extra in exchange for less downtime.

Think of an airline. Sure, it can charge more for bigger, comfier first-class seats. But it can't charge blacks more to sit in them than whites. The price is defined by the service provided, not the customer served. In that way, net neutrality is kind of like civil rights for the internet.

Maybe that's why so many conservatives have come out against it.  Or maybe they just automatically think net neutrality is bad because President Obama thinks it's good.

Or maybe it's the same thing.

In any event, some prominent Republicans have been saying remarkably ignorant things about net neutrality lately.

Here's what Senator Ted Cruz had to say: In short, net neutrality is Obamacare for the Internet. It would put the government in charge of determining Internet pricing, terms of service and what types of products and services can be delivered, leading to fewer choices, fewer opportunities and higher prices.

Here's what Texas Governor Dick Perry added to the debate: President Obama’s call to saddle 21st century technology with outdated, unnecessary regulations from the era of the Great Depression is alarming and will stifle innovation and growth.

And here's what Speaker of House John Boehner spewed forth: An open, vibrant Internet is essential to a growing economy, and net neutrality is a textbook example of the kind of Washington regulations that destroy innovation and entrepreneurship.  

What all of these statements share is the strong implication that the far right has not moved much past George W. Bush's "series of tubes"-level understanding of what the internet actually is, does, or represents in today's world. Also, that conservatives no longer seem to pay attention to what they're saying, as long as its anti-Obama.

Did John Boehner really say "An open, vibrant Internet is essential to a growing economy" as an argument AGAINST leaving the internet open to all? Yes, yes he did.

But you know, I want to give these old white guys the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it's not that they don't understand what "net neutrality" means. Maybe they just didn't hear it correctly.

Must be all that freedom ringing in my ears.
Maybe, instead of "net neutrality," they actually think they're opposing pet frugality. You know, like the government telling us what we can and can't buy for our pets. That's actually a valid point. I mean, if I want to dress my pets in hand-knit sweaters and hats, that's my business. As Americans, we shouldn't have to limit how much we spend on heated cashmere doggy beds and imported artisinal catnip. I scrimp and save in a lot of areas so that I can occasionally splurge. I don't need Big Brother looking over my shoulder, making sure I'm frugal when it comes to my pets! They're like my children. Are you going to regulate what I can spend on my children next, Mr. President? I say, no way! Screw your nanny-state pet frugality boondoggle! Guinea pig armor for everyone!

I totally just wanted to use this picture.
What's that? It actually is "net neutrality," not "pet frugality"? 


Never mind.*

Net neutrality is the way to go. GOP, by making it a political football, you're coming out against free speech, which is absurd even by your logic-warping standards. Keep the internet a level playing field, and keep service providers out of our content. 

But keep up the fight against pet frugality. Because that really is dumb.

*with apologies to Emily Litella


  1. Not only is this an excellent explanation of net neutrality it also makes me want crab tacos. And I want to buy a guinea pig. And I appreciate the history lesson from Dick Perry. I guess the Great Depression wasn't that bad. At least people had the internet and could download free porn.

    And never apologize for channeling Emily Litella. As Roseanne Roseannadanna said, "It's always something."

  2. Perhaps these morons should be kept away from the internet by a literal firewall? I would like to see them kept away by a literal firewall.

  3. This is so distressing to me...holy hell...


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