Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The First Amendment Blues

By Alan Caruba

“Congress shall make no law, respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” - First Amendment, U.S. Constitution

What part of the First Amendment does the Federal Communication Commission, led by Chairman Julius Genachowski, and three of its five appointed commissioners, not understand?

If the Internet is not about free speech, then nothing is.

For the record, the two Republican commissioners voted against “Net Neutrality”, an expansion of the FCC’s original 1934 mission to regulate radio. In May, more than 300 members of Congress, including 56 Democrats, contacted the FCC to urge that it stop pursuing Internet regulation.

Need it be said that President Obama made it known that he supports “net neutrality” as “an important step in preventing abuses and continuing to advance the Internet as an engine of productivity growth and innovation.” Blah, blah, blah.

Dictators hate any form of mass communication they cannot control. Consider the news in early December that Venezuelan dictator, Hugo Chavez, was defending plans for a law that would, according to the Washington Post, “impose broadcast-type regulations on the Internet, saying Sunday that his government should protect citizens against online crimes.”

In Venezuela, criticizing Hugo Chavez, who has just been granted power to rule by decree, will no doubt be considered an Internet crime. Chavez thinks Obama is the best thing that ever happened to America and so does Cuba’s Fidel Castro.

Even a small step toward the regulation of the Internet is a very big step toward curbing free speech and free access to information of all kinds, good, bad or just plain evil. In America citizens are expected to sort out lies and make their own judgments. That’s why a million of them showed up in Washington, D.C. in March to demand Obamacare be rejected.

Nor is this to suggest that there aren’t plenty of laws that exist to protect consumers. The FCC decision, as one of its members, Robert M. McDowell, noted recently, ignores the fact that “the Obama Justice Department and the European Commission both decided this year that net-neutrality might deter investment in next-generation Internet technology and infrastructure.”

In the same fashion that the lame duck session of Congress has been used by largely defeated Democrats to push through legislation that had been either long delayed for political purposes, such as a budget for the government or Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal, the Democrat-controlled FCC has used the week leading up to Christmas to push through a measure that is universally condemned.

“The rules the FCC will impose are unenforceable without Congressional approval—as a federal court made clear in April,” notes Bruce Walker, managing editor of The Heartland Institute’s InfoTech & Telecom News. ”The FCC has now only prolonged the regulatory uncertainty its net neutrality threats originally created. This will negatively impact jobs and investment in the Internet industry.”

This is not the end of this abomination, but it is a loud signal and indication of the way the leftist administration of President Obama has striven to harm the economy, imposing huge debt, grasping control of the healthcare sector, the financial sector, major auto manufacturers, the insurance industry, and now the power of the Internet to inform Americans against its tyranny.

The November midterm election results rejected those efforts and, no doubt, a House controlled by Republicans and a weakened control by Democrats of the Senate, will seek to obviate these treacherous attempts to destroy the economy.

It is, however, the FCC’s attack on free speech and freedom of the press via the Internet that tells Americans everything they need to know about President Obama and his lackeys.

© Alan Caruba, 2010


TexasFred said...

I have heard several folks state, confidently, net neutrality will be overturned early next year...

I hope they are correct..

sdkar said...

the creation was discussed at length one day in Constitutional Law class in law school years ago. If I remember correctly, the reason the FCC was originally created was because there were only so many channels a radio or TV could have. There was a limited number of frequency channels and therefore, the FCC's job was to regulate stations and make sure they use their own frequencies and not step on others or takeover frequences they did not own. However, that argument doesn't work with the internet as there is no limit to the number of web addresses available. Somewhere along the way, the FCC went from policing a limited number of frequencies and who uses them to an entity that had more control of censorship. Somehow, when this occurred, no one said anything and at first it did seem like a good idea. Remember, when the FCC first came to being, the govt was trusted by its citizens, unlike today, which we scrutinize everything the govt does now...and rightfully so. The FCC just kept taking more and more power. Now, the FCC controls CONTENT instead of just managing who uses which frequency.

Now here comes the FCC again with its sights on the internet. Not to make sure the web addresses are used by who has permission to use it, but will now control based on content. The FCC will seem like a good idea at first...going after internet scams and kiddy porn. But you watch, they will eventually control content and who says what. And when that happens, the govt will control the message...which is what they want. And when that happens, we will lose one more little piece of our freedoms given to us by our founding fathers. Like Ben Franklin said, "You have a republic, if you can keep it."

Alan Caruba said...

@sdkar: Thank you for a valuable insight regarding the FCC.

No doubt you will find my forthcoming discussion of nullification of interest, too.

Ronbo said...

FCC Julius "Seizure" should remember the fate of the Roman dictator on the Ides of March in 44 B.C. and the daggers of the Republicans.

This is treason: pure and simple.

LarryOldtimer said...

When radio first began to be broadcast, there were few radio stations, and radio broadcasting is "line of sight" with weak signals. A single station could influence a broad but relative local audience. I.e, an entire city or "urbanized" area.

No valid excuse at all for "neutrality" for a long time.

I have to chuckle at the way the snooze media expressed Chavez becoming a dictator. The very word "dictator" itself is, it seems, out of bounds for the snooze media.

The reason for the Second Amendment is clear if one reads the Declaration of Independence, which was required reading when I was in high school.

". . . when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security."

As far as the new Congress overturning anything, the power of executive order is limited only by the willingness of both the House to impeach, and the Senate to convict on impeachment charges. Both together have never occured, regarding a president of the US. The new House might well impeach, but a conviction by the Senate is doubtful, in my mind.

Legislation has to pass both the House and Senate, and has to be signed by the President. For a veto to be overridden, it requires a 2/3rds majority in both houses. Once again, the new House would, but the Senate is unlikely to do so.

January 2013 is a long time away, the way things are going.