WHAT’S IN A NAME?
Arianna kicks our collective asses about the poor marketing job being done on the “net neutrality” issue.
Why are the bad guys so much better at naming things? Especially legislation. Especially bad legislation.
No Child Left Behind. Healthy Forests. Clear Skies. The PATRIOT Act.
They have a special gift for coming up with monikers that are easy to remember and easy to get behind. Sure, they’re deceptive, but they’re also very effective.
The same can’t be said for the utterly befuddling “Net Neutrality” — the critically-important push to ensure that the Internet stays democratic and uncontrolled by the telecom giants that want to become its gatekeepers. (For those not fully up to speed on this vital issue — and that’s most everyone I’ve talked to — check out savetheinternet.com, and posts by Rep. Ed Markey, Adam Green, Josh Silver, and Matt Stoller). Now, I understand that “Net Neutrality” is a technical term used to describe the separation of content and network operations, but what political genius decided to run with such a clunky name? The marketing mavens behind the Kerry ’04 campaign?
When you first hear “Net Neutrality”, what immediately pops into your head? A tennis match in Switzerland? Basketball players who don’t choose sides? Tuna fishermen who don’t have a position on being dolphin-safe? Absolutely nothing? Bingo!
And that’s the problem.
Net Neutrality legislation should be a no-brainer. A slam-dunk consensus-machine supported by every American not drawing a paycheck from Verizon, Comcast, BellSouth, Time Warner, or ATT (which leaves out Mike McCurry).
Run by the average voter the notion that Internet providers are going to be able to control which Web sites are available to them (and give the highest paying mega-sites better treatment than smaller ones), and he or she will tell you that it’s a horrendous idea.
Who besides the telecom companies looking to cash in would be against keeping the Internet a level playing field? No one.
That’s why groups as diverse as MoveOn.org and the Gun Owners of America — as well as the editorial pages of the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and Christian Science Monitor — are backing Net Neutrality legislation. As Gun Owner spokesman Craig Fields put it: “Whenever you see people on the far left and far right joining together about something Congress is about to do, it’s been my experience that what Congress is about to do is basically un-American.”