Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Call me paranoid...

Eugene Robinson is a terrific fool. All you need to do is read one column to know it, and his Heller column is no exception. It's been linked all over the gunblogosphere, and Roberta has done it more justice than I could, or could hope to do.

But in it, he makes a passing comment which strikes me as chilling. His premise is, yes, the individual rights interpretation was the original intent of the framers, but enough already, fanatical adherence to original intent is loony (his word). Then he continues:

as if men who wrote with quill pens could somehow devise a blueprint for regulating the Internet.

That is the part which gave me a shiver.

Correct me if you think I'm way off base, but does anyone out there believe the Heller decision would have even reached the Appeals Court if it weren't for the alternative channel of information allowing the pro-gun side to bypass the legal/scholarly establishment? Again, I may be way wrong, but it is my understanding the heavy lifting on Heller was done by people who don't publish in the major law journals, and thus, did not have to worry about being denied tenure for their unpopular opinions.

No humor intended, but there are two kinds of people, and they tend to take opposite sides on many different issues. It is not surprising, with due allowance for those who are genuinely iconoclastic, that pro-gun and anti-gun people are also on opposite sides of issues like free markets, taxation, and environmental regulation.

So my question is this - do you think the other side is going to take this lying down?

They are not stupid; they realize their astrourf cannot match our grassroots. But remember the fairness doctrine - if you can't win on the ground, lock the other side out of the stadium.

Here is where my sheer technical ignorance comes into play, and I wish someone with more knowledge would reassure me, because the next issue in the chain of reconquering freedom, whatever that issue may be, will assuredly depend on our ability to bypass the old media channels and get the message out.

So I've got to ask, is it possible by using the courts, legislatures, the university - government bureaucracy combine, and all the other tools at their disposal, that the enemies of freedom could lock the freedom loving out of the debate?

I await the reply from those who understand how the Internet really works (it's magic to me), telling me no, the flow of information is too vast, too complex, and too powerful to be yoked to some tyrant's whim.


Mark Alger said...


Tehcnically, it's possible to censor Internet discourse. There was some discussion of this awhile back when people wanted to lock Chinese domains out of the root servers. (DWL, I know I'm not using the correct terms.)

But, as many net-freedom advocates like to say, the Internet tends to view censorship as damage and routes around it.

The problem is that that assumes the backbone operators and the ISPs won't choose -- or be forced -- to meddle in content.

The 'Net ought to be seen as a utility -- a common carrier -- with no interest in or ability to affect content. But statists and leftists (redundant redundancy alert) really want to try to get around that with the so-called Net Neutrality initiative -- which, in a typical bit of Orwellian double-speak urges the exact opposite of net neutrality -- at least, as far as I can figure. (Claims of the various sides appear to contradict each other, so it's hard to tell for sure.)

Some want to "regulate" "porn" or "protect the children" (Here's a concept; keep the little brats off the net if they can't handle the content.).

Lazy indoctrin -- er, educators want to be able to use the 'Net as a babysitter, without regard to the fact that it's a trap for the immature with atrophied or underdeveloped critical thinking skills. They scream for intrusive filtering and law-enforcement initiatives that clog otherwise free-flowing pipes.

Law enforcement operators want extraordinary tools (greater than those available to your garden-variety cracker, for example) to enable them to get at information that would otherwise be protected by the Fourth Amendment. (And international treaties propose vitiating our 4A rights in international venues, even if the servers and all traffic are exclusively on American soil in American-owned wires.)

Despicable state initiatives such as the Canadian -- scorn quotes -- "Human Rights Commission" kangaroo courts will inevitably seek to extend their sway over Internet discourse -- without regard to national boundaries or sovereignty.

You're not paranoid. The battle here is on a par and of a scale to match the 2A battle. It's all of a piece with the defense of liberty, which is never-ending, and never gets any easier.

Get used to it.


Earl said...

Understanding power, I watch as bloggers are hacked to death and gone, as armed forces are censored and their creations and thoughts destroyed in cyberspace - so I think there is no right on the Internet, I don't think there is any protection - all they want to do is find your source code, the poor phrasing inciting rebellion and they will be on you liken crows on carrion... They are some bad guys, and afraid of independent thoughts leading to actions... Happy 4th of July!

Zee said...

You are not in the least paranoid. I have been trying to get a grasp of what net neutrality actually is and found these two articles helpful.

Tapscott's Copy Desk

Net neutrality: a primer for the rightosphere

Zee said...

Sorry, gave you the link to tapscott's blog, not the specific article.

Oldsmoblogger said...

A bit late to the party, sorry, but Robinson sounds a lot like Mark Kurlansky.