Senator Al Franken got an enthusiastic reception from all the techies at South by Southwest Interactive, talking about what he calls the First Amendment issue of our time, net neutrality. He framed the issue for this group as a way of avoiding having to sell out, just as he tried to avoid selling out in his early years as a comedian. In other words, net neutrality allows start-up companies, as well as independent filmmakers and musicians, the possibility of competing on a level playing field, with product sponsored by major corporations. Otherwise, these artists and entrepreneurs are going to have to surrender an unfair share of their future worth to distributors.
Franken was here to ask the help of the entrepreneurs in the audience, who may not realize the political power they possess by virtue of being job creators. This power is needed to combat the power of Comcast and other corporate lobbyists, who receive an unfair share of attention on Capitol Hill. They operate by using what Franken described as an old rhetorical device, called "making stuff up." For example, the effort to preserve net neutrality is portrayed as a government takeover of the internet, just as the effort to reform health insurance was falsely portrayed as a government takeover. Franken mentioned that a Congressman on the floor actually asked why we need net neutrality. Why shouldn't we leave the net the way it is? But of course net neutrality is already the way it is, and that has allowed the internet to become the powerful force it is today. It is the effort to slow down or speed up the flow of information, based on how much content providers are willing to pay, that would represent a dangerous change.
Since the Senator asked the help of those in the audience to get the word out on this important issue, and we all said yes, I am obligated to post this to respond to his call.