Maine Governor Tells 16-Year-Old Worried About Net Neutrality Repeal To 'Pick Up A Book And Read'

from the you're-not-helping dept

As more than a few folks have noted, many opponents of net neutrality (from FCC boss Ajit Pai to Mark Cuban) are following blind ideology. Many of them quite honestly believe that no regulation can ever be good, and that government is absolutely never capable of doing the right thing. That kind of simplicity may feel good as you navigate a complicated world, but it’s intellectually lazy. As a result, the decision to use net neutrality rules as an imperfect but necessary stopgap (until we can reduce corruption and drive more competition into the sector) simply befuddles them.

Of course this kind of blind ideology is particularly handy when you don’t actually know how modern broadband markets or net neutrality even work, but your gut just tells you why the whole nefarious affair is simply bad. That’s why you’ll see folks like Ted Cruz consistently doubling down on bizarre, misleading claims based on repeatedly debunked falsehoods. Needless to say, this sort of lazy thinking is not particularly productive. Especially when you’re a member of the same government purportedly tasked with analyzing real-world data, listening to constituent concerns, and actively tasked with making things better.

Case in point: one sixteen-year-old Maine high school student recently wrote to Maine Governor Paul LePage, clearly worried about the impact the broadband industry’s attack on net neutrality will have on her ability to freely access information online. Camden Hills Regional High School sophomore Hope Osgood actually took the time to write her governor, expressing concern about how the repeal could pose problems for free speech, competition, and the health of information exchange:

“The internet is the easiest way to access anything. News, information, etc. Companies being able to put restrictions on internet usage isn?t ideal! People will be left in the dark about some things. All my school work is internet-based, but what happens if I can?t reach what I need to? What about my lessons in school?”

Osgood said she is concerned that big companies “might have more control over everything. If you wanted to go to a certain website, it might be slowed down. You might have to pay to access that, or it might be completely blocked off what you can see. They could filter news, media, or things they don?t agree with. I don?t think that should be able to happen. Everybody should be able to get information.”

Le Page’s response to her concerns? To scribble a response in the margins of her letter telling the kid to “pick up a book and read!”:

His response not only is insulting, but makes no coherent sense. How would reading a book solve letting telecom monopolies run roughshod over competitors and the health of the internet? It wouldn’t. Like so many others, LePage’s disdain for net neutrality is being fueled entirely by blind ideology, and much like Donald Trump, the Governor probably couldn’t tell you what net neutrality even is in one-on-one conversation. Needless to say, Osgood and her family didn’t walk away charmed from her first run in with civil engagement:

“Osgood showed the letter to her grandfather, Rick Osgood, a LePage supporter who didn?t like the tone of the governor?s response. Rick Osgood has voted for LePage twice and supports much of what the governor is doing in Maine, but he called LePage?s message ?just a snide remark.? ?I think it?s mighty rude,? he said.”

Again, a lot of the folks that aided and supported this latest attack on net neutrality don’t really understand the backlash that’s headed their direction, especially among younger voters. In their heads, they’ve heroically fought back a “government takeover of the internet” because they’re letting blind ideology drive the car. In reality, they’ve made a stupid, unpopular, economically unsupportable decision that’s going to impact voting decisions for the next decade. Watching many of them realize this when election time rolls around should provide at least a modicum of entertainment value in the wake of one of the worst tech policy decisions in a generation.

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Comments on “Maine Governor Tells 16-Year-Old Worried About Net Neutrality Repeal To 'Pick Up A Book And Read'”

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Machin Shin says:

Re: Re:

Even worse, this is a 16 year old who actually bothered to write to the Governor. So you know, the kind of 16 year old who is apparently interested in government and trying to be active in it.

I can see this backfiring in spectacular fashion during the next election. The news loves covering stories about young people being active in campaigns and I could easily see this kid destroying the Govenor’s chance at reelection.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I can see this backfiring in spectacular fashion during the next election. The news loves covering stories about young people being active in campaigns and I could easily see this kid destroying the Govenor’s chance at reelection.

I kinda doubt it, seeing as he’s term-limited out and his chances of being reelected are already zero.

McGyver (profile) says:

A dickish response to a perfectly reasonable question.
Also, I don’t get what I’m looking at… Did he just scrawl his dipshit response on the bottom of her letter and send it back?
What a piece of shit.
While reading books is still good advice, completing homework today requires Internet access, not just for research, but to access teacher’s notes, school portals, worksheets as well as for updates to class schedules and important school information.
If this ill informed dickwad is unaware of the necessity of unencumbered internet access then he better take his head out of big telecom’s ass and take a peak at reality.
“Read a book”… What, is he that sock puppet “Handy” from The Tick.
But figures this sarcastic fat old peice of crap is a republican.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Don’t worry, we at Comcast would never block any websites. Sign up for our new Full Internet Package which includes full unlimited access to the entire unfettered Internet for only $199 a month.

If you’re looking for a more affordable option, see our Comcast Favorites plan which includes access to many of your favorite sites such FaceComBook, Coogle, and XFinity News.
(additional sites may be accessed for $1.00 per view plus applicable DNS processing fees*)

Greedy Insurance Scam says:

Re: Re: Re: Future Ads You May See

Hey folks, how’s it going?

You all need our Internet insurance plan – it provides coverage for when the ISP with whom you do business cuts off your access to the internet thus causing you to miss payments, homework assignments, doctor appointments … you get the idea. Well, we are here to help. For just 9.95 per month such things are taken care of and you need not worry.

orbitalinsertion (profile) says:

How does he know she doesn’t read a book every two days or something. What a dickbag.

Let’s also look at etiquette, which is something dickbags like this enjoy throwing at people as another avoid-the-question tactic if they find an angle.

This young woman formatted a proper letter. An honest snail-mail letter, by all appearances. Used a polite tone.

Governor Dickbag over here just scrawls some bullshit onto the bottom of the letter she sent and send it back? Seriously? Ex-fucking-scuse me?

I am sure this fuckit is one who complains about other internet activities of the young, bemoaning how the art of writing letters is dead. (As if he ever writes them, or reads books…)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Oh the ignorance of Hope is great indeed.
She thinks that books can only be printed on dead trees for them to be real, like so many who thinks badly about the current generation.
The truth is that the younger generation is probably reading more material than ever: Online book collections like Safari books and the like with thousands of books on a subscription.
Online guides and instructions from posts, blogs, and the like. Discussions on a subject with many pages of text, where they participate themselves and contributing to the knowledge.
Then there is also videos that, in some cases, might be superior to books if the instructor is a good one.

And despite this, Amazon is still selling physical books by the truckloads.

I do believe that Hope should pick up a tablet, computer, or other device with internet access… she might learn something.

Anonymous Coward says:

Idiot politician just created a vote against him and everything he stads for when this kid reaches voting age. Rather than trying to adress the concerns and potentially gain a young mind to his cause he just brushed it off in a rather rude form. In all it tell volumes avout the intellingence of the 16 old versus the ignorant and shortsighted governor.

Anonymous Coward says:

The revolt against the destruction of the Internet may well start with the kids making life unbearable for their parents. Read me a story, and take me to the Library, or buy me that DVD and CD can put the pressure on the parents to get the politicians to fix the problem, as the kids try to fill in what they are missing on from the Internet.

PaulT (profile) says:

Just to point out one thing before the troll brigade appear, I think this is one of the more notable things to look at here:

“All my school work is internet-based”

That sentence alone should be enough to question what was scrawled, even if you agree with his “just read a book stance”.

What does that sentence mean? It could mean that there’s an easy online depository of materials, which the student will have to waste time searching for offline if they don’t have that ability. On the other hand – does it mean that there is study material that’s *only* available online (in which case, you can read all the books you want, but won’t be able to refer to the actual course materials)? Does it mean that the school operate an online submission service as the way for students to receive and submit their coursework? Does it mean that a student without reliable internet access will be at a disadvantage, or unable to get a grade at all?

I’m not sure, although a quick look around the school’s website does show that they seem to be heavily invested in iPads and a service called “schoolology” that certainly does seem to offer online assessments and the like.

In other words, not only is this guy a condescending asshole, he might actually be less aware of how his district’s schools operate than the teenager he’s mocking! Hopefully, he and those who think and act like him get what’s coming to them.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“He’s probably not too worried about “district schools”. If he has any kids, they probably go to private schools.”

Sadly true, but then such a person has no business representing the people who need them if he cannot understand anything that doesn’t affect him and his directly.

This type of thing does happen far too often in politics but, from the evidence I can see here, he’s literally pushing for the education of many of his jurisdiction’s children to be crippled, and he’d rather mock them than understand why they might have a problem with this. Such people have no business being in the positions they too often find themselves in.

Anonymous Coward says:

Everything on the Internet is absolutely true and unbiased, clean and decent, non-commercial,

and not selected so as to keep you in a propaganda bubble, no drawbacks whatever!

That’s actually what you kids believe, with the exception that as here you get to yap your tiny little heads off when EVIL UNBELIEVER dares show up.

What the Governor meant is clear except to you who are absolute slaves to propaganda (Of course you don’t recognize that! You don’t even suspect nothing!): there are other sources of information, and will give you perspective.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Everything on the Internet is absolutely true and unbiased, clean and decent, non-commercial,

there are other sources of information, and will give you perspective.

1) the Internet allows access to almost all of them.

2) How many miles are you as a parent prepared to drive so that you Kids can use the library?

3) How near, and how good is your nearest Bookshop?

4) Have you seen the price of informational books lately, they make Comcast’s price gouging look positively benign.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Everything on the Internet is absolutely true and unbiased, clean and decent, non-commercial,

As PaulT pointed out in his comment above, it’s not even necessarily about consuming information.

The school she goes to may require her to submit all of her assignments online. Even if she could do all the research and assignments offline, she may be required to turn it in online. Many schools are going this route.

So in the case of homework submission, it’s about uploading to the internet, not consumption of information.


Re: Everything on the Internet is absolutely true and unbiased, clean and decent, non-commercial,

Ok, I’m here – now what?

It must be frustrating for you to live in a world in which there is no gray area – everything is either this or that. It could lead to mental issues – but you probably already have realized this.

Wolfie0827 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Everything on the Internet is absolutely true and unbiased, clean and decent, non-commercial,

“It must be frustrating for you to live in a world in which there is no gray area – everything is either this or that. It could lead to mental issues – but you probably already have realized this.”

Maybe not, but I bet their psychologist has realized it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Everything on the Internet is absolutely true and unbiased, clean and decent, non-commercial,

Good freakin’ luck trying to milk a copy of IEC 60950 out of a general-service, or even a general university, library. In the collection? Nope. Inter-library loan? Not happening. Getting them to add it, considering the $600-$700 running price for a hardcopy? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!

Keep in mind this document I’m talking about isn’t some antiquity that only exists in a few copies in the whole wide world, by the way. It’s the fundamental electrical safety standard for IT equipment worldwide. And unless you happen to be extremely blessed with a dedicated engineering library in your hometown, the only access you can get to it is online.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg regarding codes and standards…

John85851 (profile) says:

I'm going to be cynical...

I’m going to be cynical and I hope I’m proved wrong, but I don’t think there will be a “voter backlash”. (Again, please prove me wrong.)

In the 2016 election, we had to most qualified woman run against the least qualified man and the man won. You can say it’s due to Hillary having political baggage or what not, but I say it’s because Trump and the Republicans knew how to press people’s buttons.

I have the bad feeling that the same thing will happen in the 2018 elections:
Democrat: “Vote for me because I support net neutrality.”
Republican: “Vote for me and I’ll bring coal jobs back to the state and I’ll build a wall to keep Muslim terrorists from shooting up our schools.”
Democrat: “But he’s accused of being a child molester.”
Republican: “At least I’m not a Democrat who wants to continue Obama’s policies, am I right?”

And the Republican wins.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I'm going to be cynical...

“most qualified woman” – That’s not saying much.

Neither were really qualified for the job, they both sucked hard. Trump, as you say, just knew how to push people’s buttons better and he was riding the ever present pendulum of dissatisfaction following whatever party was in power in the previous administration.

Given the MAJOR dissatisfaction (and entertaining disillusionment occurring with Republicans right now) with Trump, if the Democrats run a halfway competent and palatable candidate, they’ll have it in the bag.

Granted of course this doesn’t result in everyone finally voting third party and getting rid of this red/blue partisan nonsense. (Yeah I know I’m dreaming, but I can hope)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: I'm going to be cynical...

Just to be clear, not dissing on women, there are plenty of women I consider to be highly qualified to be President, far more so than our current POTUS. Hillary Clinton is just not one of them. A lot of Democrats agree that she wasn’t a good choice.

Calling her the “most qualified woman” is an insult to women everywhere. She was just the most well known woman candidate.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: I'm going to be cynical...

Calling her the "most qualified woman" is an insult to women everywhere.

She’s been in politics most of her life, and not just as the wife of a President and Governor. She’s a former Secretary of State. A U.S. Senator for eight years. And there’s her legal background outside of politics.

Just out of morbid curiosity, what candidate in the last few election cycles, male or female, in either party, do you consider MORE qualified than her?

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 I'm going to be cynical...

Yeah, I’m not a big fan of Clinton but she was certainly experienced; it’s absurd to claim otherwise.

I don’t know that I agree with the refrain that she was the most qualified candidate ever to run — even if we disqualify sitting presidents running for reelection, I’d probably tip George HW Bush as the most politically-experienced candidate ever to run for president — but she was pretty high on the list.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 I'm going to be cynical...

My apologies, I was using terminology already provided but I should clarify.

I agree that she was very experienced politically, but political experience alone (IMHO) does not make one suitably qualified to hold the office of POTUS. Politics is one of those weird jobs where the most experience in it doesn’t automatically make you the most qualified. If for no other reason than because the decisions you make don’t solely affect politics, they affect industry, economics, technology, foreign relations, transportation, private citizens, etc… That’s not to say political experience isn’t valuable, but it’s not a good indicator of whether you are the most qualified.

@Roger Strong, I would consider Barrack Obama as very much more qualified (but not necessarily more experienced) than Clinton.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 I'm going to be cynical...

Do explain how Obama’s 7 years in state senate and 3 years in the Senate made him more qualified than Clinton during her ’16 run? I would love to hear it, because even by your own metrics Clinton was still more qualified from the various offices and positions she’s held. You say political experience isn’t a qualifier, but I’d also like to ask what you think political experience actually is.

Unlikable and robotic? Sure. Poorly qualified? Lord no.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 I'm going to be cynical...

You can have more time experience and be less qualified than someone in the same field. For example, I work in IT and have worked with people who are older than me and have worked in IT for 20+ years but they are less qualified than I am because their knowledge is not as extensive as mine.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 I'm going to be cynical...

I guess I can’t give a lot of other specific examples off the top of my head and the ones I could I’m not sure I’m remembering correctly. Sorry to disappoint. She lost to Obama in the 2008 primaries so at the very least I feel like most Democrats consider Obama to be more qualified than her.

I agree with her on several issues but I dislike the way she conducts her business and affairs and don’t particularly trust her. Kind of like how I dislike the way Trump conducts his business and affairs and don’t particularly trust him either. And I don’t consider someone qualified to be president that isn’t at least vaguely trustworthy.

I do admit that she is very experienced and has an extensive legal and political background. But, I don’t feel that she would be a good choice for leading a nation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8 I'm going to be cynical...

Fair enough, but I feel saying she’s less qualified because she lost in the primary discounts a lot of what Obama did to break out from being the underdog.

It also implies that Clinton is less qualified than Trump because she lost the election (popular vote aside), which just isn’t true right on its face.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:9 I'm going to be cynical...

Fair points.

Though I would say as a counter argument that it doesn’t discount what Obama did in the primaries because it just showed how much more qualified he was.

As for vs Trump, you have the whole Rep vs Dem thing going on so I’m not sure that’s as fair a comparison as within the Dem primaries. But yes, I agree, definitely not less qualified than Trump.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 I'm going to be cynical...

She’s also dirty as hell.
she got a dead-to-rights rapist off and mocked the victim afterword, various instances of wrong doing or just plain shady crap. We had two shit choices at the end and most chose the one we saw doing the LEAST damage. It just so happens part of the damage is the internet, but that was going to happen either way, one way or another.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 I'm going to be cynical...

“various instances of wrong doing or just plain shady crap”

You’re surely not suggesting that Trump doesn’t have such things in his history?

“We had two shit choices at the end and most chose the one we saw doing the LEAST damage.”

I have no idea how you could have looked at the platforms of those 2 people and thought that Trump would be the least damaging of the two. The man has a history of bankrupting businesses, screwing creditors and stealing from the poor to pay his rich friends. The only saving grace is that he’s not been competent enough to actually get through his more damaging desires through the checks and balances of the US government despite Republicans having control, and that former allies are too busy staring open-mouthed at his crassness to take action in response.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 I'm going to be cynical...

> "We had two shit choices at the end and most chose the one we saw doing the LEAST damage."

I have no idea how you could have looked at the platforms of those 2 people and thought that Trump would be the least damaging of the two.

Ah, but he said "most". Most people did not choose Trump.

(Technically most people did not choose Clinton, either, but 3 million more voted for her than for him.)

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Choosing between Satan and Cthulhu

This is and has been one of the problems of the US two-party system. It presents a race to the bottom. No-one needs to be a good candidate, just slightly less bad than the other guy.

Sadly, our two-party system, while leaving the public voting for a lesser evil that will not actually serve the public, it is really great for monied interests that want their pawn in power (in some cases, not caring that they have to buy two pawns).

Would Clinton have been a good president? Doubtful. I think she’d continue all of Obama’s worst policies, such as continuing drone strikes and perpetual war. Expanding the surveillance sector. Letting the police state continue to gain power, letting law enforcement departments turn into espionage departments, allow overclassification to continue so that more and more of the nation’s government works out of public oversight and so on.

But all of that was also going to happen on Trump’s watch. Only Trump has really made it clear that he only values white Christian affluent red-voters as real Americans and the rest of us are the enemy.

Clinton would at least run the country and not fuck up all the quotidian things a president is supposed to do. Trump is wrecking the US standing in the international sector.

Yes, Clinton has a few scandals. Trump has hundreds, many of which are still in court, and many of which he hired enforcers to intimidate away.

What moved me is Clinton can be petitioned. We can actually talk to her. Trump believes global warming is a Chinese Hoax, and that Obama literally founded the Islamic State (I guess on a secret trip to Iraq while President). Trump can’t understand problems, let alone be petitioned to address them.

We would have been better off with Satan than Trump. Or Cthulhu.

Ultimately, Trump is the watch the world burn president. If you voted for Trump, whatever you thought you were doing, what you got was a flaming wrecking ball that is unmaking the United States. Whether or not this causes the nation to fragment, it’s going to take over a century to recover, and all of the elites that are bleeding us dry will try to escape abroad before it collapses.

And we’re going to be left to war on each other like starving rats.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: I'm going to be cynical...

I’m going to be cynical and I hope I’m proved wrong, but I don’t think there will be a "voter backlash". (Again, please prove me wrong.)

Cynicism has nothing to do with it; there won’t be a voter backlash because Paul LePage will not be on the ballot. Maine governors are limited to two consecutive terms, and this is his second consecutive term.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

This is a classic dismissal.

Pick up a book and read It’s a non-answer to a real concern and demonstrates he doesn’t actually care about real constituents with complex needs, but it also signals to his base that he thinks simply about problems relying on good old fashioned horse sense (and does not suffer academics or intellectuals, which this teenager obviously is.)

Compare to:

Let them eat cake.

While not actually said by Marie Antoinette, certainly attributed to her, and sped her way to the guillotine.

Anonymous Coward says:

When I went to college for network engineering, we were required to submit our homework online, our schedules were on our own student portal page, teachers would update students about cancelled classes and most importantly, several of my classes involved exercises and homework that was distributed online by textbook manufacturers.

In my HTML/CSS class, the textbook publisher decided to make the textbook assigned in my class obsolete, pulling the online exercises from their website and directing students to ‘stay up to date in their education’ by picking up the new edition with updated links.

They did this MID-SEMESTER.

So… well after we all paid $100+ for their now ‘obsolete’ textbook.

The teacher was at a loss for what to do. He was saying we wouldn’t be able to do exercises or really continue with practical homework until he revised the lesson plan. I almost lost out on 2-3 weeks of lessons…

Key word almost. One of the students in my class had backed up all the exercises earlier in the year and told the teacher ‘I’ve got them all on a thumb drive here, if you want to distribute the exercises to your other classes, and I can share them with everyone here.’

If that student hadn’t planned ahead and spoken up, my education, from my hard copy book, such as the sort this governor insists this teenager pick up and read, would have been at jeopardy.

This is without even mentioning a fact most of these luddites like to ignore.

Looking information up online involves READING.

I am sick and tired of people acting like reading something on a computer magically makes it unreliable or simplistic or damning or a thing that is weakening our education and intelligence. The two mediums require the EXACT SAME LITERARY SKILLS.

With information being accessable, indexed and easily searched on the internet, students are capable and indeed encouraged to read and research MORE on the internet than they are with hard copy books.

Rather than leaving my house, going to my local library, flipping through a card catalog, sourcing a backpack full of hardcovers, trudging through them for the relevant information, doing so multiple times to cross-reference and verify information and possibly relying false information for convenience or under tight deadlines; students are able to quickly source multiple authors, search for peer review of information to ascertain validity, communicate with other educated individuals for assistance and more efficiently study and do assignments, allowing them to source a wider variety of information and ensure greater validity in the research they are doing.

I can carry around maybe a dozen textbooks in my backpack, OR I can carry around the sum total of human knowledge and culture on my tablet. Which one do you think allows me to read more governor?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

A good point, but I feel it’s worth noting that according to many in the Copyright Is The Best Thing Ever brigade your education was almost certainly resting on the back of massive infringement, such that the student, teacher, and probably the other students as well would have been threatened with enormous fines for infringement had the publishers learned that you were able to dodge their attempted shakedown.

Anonymous Coward says:

Open Letter of Reply to Govenor Luddite


Thank you VERY much for you attempt to address concerns. The first one was “news” well Governor when it is found in books it is called History. The term is different because time changes the relevance and it is no longer the same thing. I have learned about yesterdays news being distributed with ink on dead trees delivered like daily Amazon packages, I suppose if changes to the Internet make that a more efficient method then it is the closest kin to your suggested books. Also mentioned was school work and studies. Can you direct me to books with the *current* information found on the Wikipedia website? Which book exactly is the substitute to submit homework to the automated systems and take the interactive tests? If there were plans to make gasoline $200 per gallon can I assume concerns about that would be addressed by you with suggestions of horses, buggies and buggy whips.

Hope (for brighter future),

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