So says Ask a Ninja in this hysterical, and incredibly important, riff on net neutrality. Don’t miss it:
Though admittedly late to the game on this one, I am now convinced that net neutrality is without a doubt the single most pressing issue of the moment. And yes, I believe it is even more fundamental than stopping the War in Iraq. I realize that sounds ridiculous, but please allow me to explain…
Duncan Black, as he so often does, perfectly frames the problem (my emphasis in bold):
I’d say that roughly speaking there are 4 kinds of people in this country when it comes to politics and current events (of course these are broad brush categories). There are the people who really don’t pay any attention at all, and whose only real knowledge comes from passive absorption of random things that they happen to hear. There are the people who get all of their information from Limbaugh and the rest of the conservative media. There are the people who imagine that they’re paying attention, and think that by listening to NPR and reading gullible idiots like Joe Klein they’re “very informed.” And then there are the readers of this blog who know what’s really going on (joke).
It’s the third category of people I worry most about how to reach. They’re the ones who absorb and regurgitate Maureen Dowd’s latest bon mot, or the latest bit of Washington “conventional wisdom,” and think they’re really on top of things. They aren’t necessarily stupid people, they just haven’t come to terms with the fact that the mainstream media is something to be treated with great skepticism.
Need proof? Compare the New York Times’ “Gonzales Denies Improper Pressure on Ashcroft” headline with Josh Marshall’s “Gonzales to Schumer: Blow Me” version. Watch the video at the end of Josh’s post, then read the NYT article. Not convinced? See this New York Times’ jewel “President Links Qaeda of Iraq to Qaeda of 9/11″ versus Dan Froomkin’s Bush Can’t Make the Sale. In both cases the NYT version is complete and utter bullshit, but you would never think so if you didn’t know where else to look.
Like it or not, America is still governed by the court of public opinion, and until very recently the ability to shape this narrative rested solely in the hands of the rich and powerful. We have only begun to challenge the status quo and the media machine that enforces it, but the difference is clear: they seek power, we seek the truth. We can only gain power by exposing more people to the truth, which is why Duncan’s third category is so critical to our cause.
The mass media triumvirate of television, newspapers, and magazines is dying, and what will replace it is a hybrid of all three and more, something that can only exist on the internet. In that regard, we are clearly a threat: we understand this brave new world better than they can, both today or tomorrow. By necessity, their game plan is to ignore, omit, and silence any viewpoint that does not match its own, but that plan works only when there is no other compelling venue in the market.
Net neutrality ensures that all of us have a voice in our nation’s destiny, and creates a marketplace where the best idea, and best expression of it, wins. It creates a productive discussion, a natural balance, a healthy tension. It yields a place where honesty and integrity matter, where lies have consequences, where injustices can be made right.
We can even end a corrupt and craven presidency, and along with it the war in Iraq, but before we project our voice we must first protect it. Come to think of it, they’re one in the same.