The other day FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn challenged participants in the debate over net neutrality and reclassification to cool down their rhetoric. The same day, Free Press launched a website accusing telecom and cable companies of “corruption.” This has followed weeks of screeching rhetoric accusing the FCC Chairman of essentially the same thing – simply because his staff has dared to meet with a group of people trying to resolve these issues, one of whom counts Free Press and Media Access Project as members.
In the five years in which net neutrality has been debated, opponents have accused our company and others of non-existent abuses, imagined plans, and mythical motives. None of it backed by a single shred of data. They have sought to demonize rather than debate the merits. In one instance, ISP policies — which have never, ever involved infringement of free speech — were compared unfavorably to state censorship by a communist government. And today we have the latest example: the head of the Media Access Project authors an op-ed in Politico where he compares ISPs to a fictitious company in a John Grisham novel — one that bribes, blackmails and murders people.
Surely this is a bit much. If our opponents in this debate somehow feel Commissioner Clyburn’s words don’t apply to them, at least they could show some common decency in their statements. Instead, they sound increasingly shrill and somewhat ridiculous.