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.