NRA Gives FCC Boss An Award For 'Courageously' Killing Net Neutrality, May Have Violated Ethics Rules

from the idiocy-supernova dept

The NRA last week thought it would be a good idea to give FCC boss Ajit Pai an award for killing net neutrality. More specifically, the NRA gave Pai the Charleton Heston Award for Courage at the CPAC conference for killing the popular consumer protections. The entire affair was a tone deafness supernova from beginning to end, with American Conservative Union (ACU) Executive Director Dan Schneider making it abundantly clear that he and other attendees have absolutely no coherent idea what net neutrality even is. Schneider went so far as to declare the unpopular agency boss the “most courageous, heroic person that I know”:

“Pai “fought to preserve your free speech rights” as a member of the FCC’s Republican minority during the Obama administration, Schneider said. Pai “fought and won against all odds, but the Obama administration had some curveballs and they implemented these regulations to take over the Internet.” “As soon as President Trump came into office, President Trump asked Ajit Pai to liberate the Internet and give it back to you,” Schneider added. “Ajit Pai is the most courageous, heroic person that I know.”

Of course if you’ve been paying even a shred of attention, you should realize there’s nothing courageous about ignoring the public, ignoring the experts, ignoring all objective data just to give a sloppy wet kiss to despised telecom monopolies like Comcast. Pai’s repeal is widely derided as one of the worst tech policy decisions in the modern internet era, making the backlash against legislative shitshows like SOPA look like a cozy beach side picnic in comparison. And despite every effort by the telecom industry to frame net neutrality as a partisan issue, that is, and continues to be, bullshit.

While a petty and blatant attention-seeking move, the stunt may have given both the NRA and Pai a little more than they bargained for. As part of the award Pai was given an antique musket, a move former Office of Government Ethics boss Walter Shaub was quick to criticize as a violation of FCC ethics rules:

It’s possible Pai can tap dance around this by claiming the musket (which the NRA said would be stored and displayed at their offices in Virginia) never formally entered Pai’s legal ownership. Of course that doesn’t make this effort any less idiotic and tone deaf. CPAC apparently doesn’t realize that Millennials are starting to vote in greater numbers than ever before, and while CPAC leadership may have thought combining the NRA (while in the middle of a massive PR kerfuffle) with the attack on net neutrality was an “epic troll,” all younger voters are going to see here is a giant neon sign blinking the words “incompetence” and “corruption” in endless repetition.

Pai wasn’t alone in potentially violating ethics rules during CPAC. Under the Hatch Act, FCC Commissioners can’t openly pitch for a specific political candidate, a rule Pai’s fellow Commissioner Mike O’Rielly violated when he urged CPAC attendees to vote for Trump:

“O?Rielly, however, later found himself embroiled in his own controversy. His trouble started with a question about what the FCC could do to stop the constant ?ping-pong? of issues, such as net neutrality, every time the party in power changes in the nation?s capital.

?I think what we can do is make sure as conservatives that we elect good people to both the House, Senate and make sure that President Trump gets reelected,? O?Rielly began.

The GOP commissioner?s plug for the president riled some ethics watchdogs. Under a set of rules known as the Hatch Act, government officials such as O?Rielly generally aren?t supposed to use their stations to advocate for election outcomes.

Remember, these are the same FCC staffers that had an epic hissy fit a few years back when they claimed the former White House “improperly” violated nonexistent ethics rules by openly advocating for tough net neutrality rules. They’re now embroiled in numerous GAO inquiries, face a growing mountain of lawsuits, and now face an FCC Inspector General Inquiry for potentially being too cozy with the industries they’re supposed to be holding accountable on behalf of the American Public. Keep digging that hole, gentlemen.

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Comments on “NRA Gives FCC Boss An Award For 'Courageously' Killing Net Neutrality, May Have Violated Ethics Rules”

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Nathan F (profile) says:

Check the audience

Well, consider the audience that this guy was speaking too. If it was filled with industry execs (and possibly the big telecom execs) then what he said was the truth. The Obama FCC did in fact pass rules and regulations that took away the free and open (cash pipe) internet that they wanted. Then Trump and Pai come along and repeal the rules and gave it back to them.

Machin Shin says:

I just don’t even know what to say. You have the NRA in the middle of a huge negative media storm because of that school shooting, so tons of negative press going on. Then they think, hey lets give this massively unpopular guy an award for pushing a massively unpopular policy.

I am STRONGLY pro second amendment. I really like my guns and will fight for my rights to have them. So in the past I would have been supporter of the NRA. Now…. they kind of make me want to go throw up. Especially now that they are so disgustingly over the top that they are actually in danger of destroying gun rights by being such scum.

Machin Shin says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Matters because the NRA was already in a shit storm for being “pro gun” after that shooting and they thought “Hey, lets jump into another shit storm, lets present an award to Ajit Pai for being anti-net-neutrality”

So anyone on the fence about if NRA was total scum, this helped tip them over. I care about guns, but I also care about the internet. They will never see ANY support from me ever again. So they now have lost at least one rifle instructor.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

It only matters to intellectually dishonest people.

If you are okay with hating people for supporting rights because of a recent event then it is the same as saying that it is okay for people to hate Muslims for holding a prayer session right after another Muslim bombed something.

It is obsessive and oppressive to make those connections.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

The NRA is clearly more about politics than rights, but the problem here is not about what the NRA is doing, it is about other people are doing in response of what the NRA did.

Two wrongs don’t make a Right! The idea that guns rights should be abolished because the NRA is full of scum is a bad argument. Then again… I bet I am talking to someone that would support repeal of the 1st Amendment because someone said something they did not like. Or at the very least support hate speech laws.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“What does a school shooting have to do with this?”

Optics, largely. To insiders, it might be nothing more than a gift of appreciation from similar minded folk.

To the outside world? It’s tone deaf to be publicly giving a gun as a gift in the current political debate, especially for activities have have nothing to do with weaponry. Giving it to, say, a police officer who was heroically wounded in the line of duty might be one thing, but this just seems totally out of whack.

But, the icing on the cake? It was the Charlton Heston award. Heston and the NRA are associated with each other in much of the mainstream for his “cold dead hands” comment and his appearance in Bowling For Columbine, which is absolutely associated with school shootings. They might not like the fact, but that’s the association a lot of people will have made.

NRA fans do seem to be in a bit of a bubble when it comes to understanding how they appear the those on the outside, but this gift is utterly inappropriate in the current climate. Whether you think that’s rightly or wrongly, that’s the reality.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

Care to tell that to the parents of the schools in Florida?

I think they would care a whole lot right now. If your constant conclusion to someone you disagree with is to essentially go to a false extreme then you are damaging your position. A lot of people care about that. In fact if you agree with him, you should care more than the people listening because now you look like an Occupy Wallstreet nutter that does not even know what they are protesting about. But by all means, go and protest because that is the “in” thing to do even though it is a total waste of time.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Massacres and bad days

To be fair, the world has massacres daily on even good days.

US outrage about the Syrian attacks, which killed more kids than the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting — or rather the lack of outrage — was deafening.

Our dear president Donald Trump has even used the for me it was Tuesday excuse.

During the apex of the drone strike program in Afghanistan, we were typically killing more than seventeen kids in a week (500 sorties a year, approximately, all of which were scorching villages and population groups with Hellfires. It’s okay, though because we told our press to call these families militants). These days, the Afghanistan program is ramping down, but Pakistan is getting its daily dose of Hellfire and Trump was insistent on opening up new programs for other theaters of conflict.

So yeah, a massacre in the United States is a bad day. But a massacre outside the United States, by the United States, or condoned by the United States is Tuesday.

orbitalinsertion (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Also it clearly shows how wrongheaded the NRA is about NN, so you might question their other thinking and activities. Further, why did they even dip their toe into this? I find it just plain odd they are weighing in on NN.

I would guess that one thing they were thinking was that they might look good involving themselves in something not gun-related. By presenting a weapon that can’t possibly be used in the manner in which maniacs in our culture like to do every month or so, i am sure they imagined no one would make any negative associations.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I wish we could hear more from the sensible gun owner representative organisations. I didn’t know there was such a thing (weren’t the NRA the sensible gun ownership advocates back in the day?) or that there are many of them.

All I ever hear on the gun control front is a zero-sum argument in which you either ban all guns (and possibly rude hand signals as well) or you let every Tom, Dick, and Harry have them regardless of whether or not they’ve got a criminal record or mental health issues. It would be most refreshing to hear from sensible, moderate groups on the issue.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The NRA is weak on the 2nd, they supported Open Carry bans and are not very friendly with Open Carry people and are okay with banning weapons.

The NRA is just another organization of human waste that says they support something but really does not. I love it when they try to get me to sign up at Gun shows… I tell them they don’t stand for 2nd Amendment rights and they get all incensed about it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Over the years the NRA has become a mouthpiece for right wing politics rather than a special interest group with gun rights and safety as its mission. Their own spokespeople have been anti-LGBT for years with wacky opinions ranging from gay marriage causes mass shootings to transgender people “appropriating gender.” They’ve really dug themselves a hole on all the issues which makes them basically a dead organization. It’s going to be odd to explain to NRA members why Dana Loesch even mentioned anything about transgender people when her job is being a defender of gun rights (basically wtf does gender identity have to do with gun rights?).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Well yes, food is politicized.

I’m sure some food processors out there do not want to spend money maintaining a clean environment and call upon their representative to gut the FDA. Seems that food poisoning is on the rise but some politicians do not care – we don’t need no food inspectors. They figure when people get sick, it’s their own fault and missing work is not an option.

In addition, I doubt many people would dine at an establishment knowing that they do not provide sick days to their employees.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“I’m sure some food processors out there do not want to spend money maintaining a clean environment and call upon their representative to gut the FDA.”

Sure there are, because it is good business to run calculated risks. If the cost is lower to risk food poisoning lawsuits rather than paying the expense of a clean environment then why should any business care? It’s just money.

“Seems that food poisoning is on the rise but some politicians do not care – we don’t need no food inspectors.”

Why should they care? They created the FDA to care for them, and as long as the FDA is good and no one is barking up their tree, it’s all good.

If you really want to solve the problem then you stop issuing fines for no compliance and start issuing mandatory jail time. No CEO will want to go to jail if they are found to knowingly refuse to spend capital on clean environments.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

Not sure that is the most fair statement. Think about it for a minute, how valuable is a life from an economic standard?

When they cut corners on clean, are they really putting a price? Nope, they are just being selfish.

Like the person that takes unsafe risks on the highway. Are they not ignorantly placing the value of someones or their own life as less valuable than the times they save taking that risk? They are really just being selfish and calculating the odds that they are going to die or kill someone from making a mistake as being to low to avoid doing what they do.

Same goes for being clean. The odds of someone being hurt is low, sure it is more than it was otherwise but still “acceptably” low to them, even if we would not agree.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

I was referring to cases where a corporation gets sued for loss of life and the lawyers argue about how much money the dead person is worth, was capable of earning, and their contributions to society … all in an attempt at determining how much the corp should be forced to pay the family members.
I was not thinking about any of the stuff you mentioned.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Here you go:

I don’t count the Media Matters references to Ted Nugent’s statements because I don’t think he’s ever worked for the NRA in an official capacity but the rest are shared among the current head, Dana Loesch, and two other spokespeople at the NRA.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I would think the NRA’s stance with the Mulford Act was good enough that the NRA is more about politics rather than 2nd Amendment rights.

If you check history, the first gun bans came when whites saw a black people with them. It is amazing how many republicans get anti-2nd amendment when they see a minority with a gun.

Very few people actually support the constitution, they are more than willing to let their fears and politics be used to remove every last stitch of freedom possible.

Kevin Hayden (profile) says:

Does the NRA really support a liberated internet?

Nice to see that the NRA thinks repealing net-neutrality will result in a free and open internet that isn’t subject to a lot of government regulation. I wonder if they’ll also speak out against the SESTA/FOSTA shitshow that’s currently working its way through Congress. That’s way more government interference and regulation of internet services than net-neutrality ever was. Come on NRA. Put your money where your mouth is, or are you too afraid to upset your bought-and-paid-for minions in Congress?

Anonymous Coward says:

With the present administration, it has become plainly obvious to even the most casual observer that our government is totally and completely corrupt. This has the case for some time but they were much more covert about their transgressions. Apparently the need to hide your bad behavior has become unnecessary and in fact can be used to inflate ones ego at cocktail parties without any guilt. This is a new low for humanity.

The flagrant, out in the open, lies are not helping anyone and yet it continues unabated.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“This is a new low for humanity.”

I love it when people show their ignorance like you do.

New low? you don’t even know the meaning of it. Every time people like you say shit like this it is infuriating.

Millions of innocents Children, Woman, and Men have been oppressed, raped, murdered, experimented on and generally treated like worthless organisms and you roll out “a new low” for a run of the mill corruption in Government?

Talk about having some fucked up perspectives.

Anonymous Coward says:

Couldn't finish the article before commenting

Here is what stopped me:

“CPAC apparently doesn’t realize that Millennials are starting to vote in greater numbers than ever before”

My reply is who gives a shit! The head of the FCC is not elected, he is appointed. He is a bureaucratic with WAY to much power. I deal with this shit all the time at the state level and when pressing my state rep even she can’t do anything about these entrenched power mongers.

James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: Couldn't finish the article before commenting

CPAC =/= FCC. CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, is as the name suggests, a conference to discuss and hash out conservative political actions in the next year. The CPAC hosting this award is going to hurt conservatives in the coming year, as Melennials and Gen Z increase their voting block, and given gun violence and net neutrality are major concerns for those voting blocks.

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m confused as to the NRA’s mission since when did Net Neutrality cover gun ownership and safety? This doesn’t seem to be out of their current behavior either. They’ve gone after LGBT folks and even side-stepped the Philando Castile case even though he was a lawful CCW holder. Why can’t they just admit they’re an auxiliary political party for the “moral majority” or whatever passes for social conservatives these days among the two major parties?

The Wanderer (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: bs/stupid meter

Uh, no.

A peroxide blonde is someone whose hair (on the outside of the skull) has been bleached, e.g. with hydrogen peroxide.

The comment was suggesting that it looks like these people have applied the bleach to the insides of their skulls, i.e., to their brains rather than their hair.

That says nothing whatsoever about the intelligence of people who applied the bleach on the outside of the skull – to say nothing of natural blonds or blondes, who haven’t had bleach involved in the first place.

John85851 (profile) says:

No punishment so no reason not to do it

One of the best ways to deter crime is to quickly catch the offender and punish him. On the other hand, if people learn that they can get away with things that are immoral, unethical, and wrong, BUT don’t get punished, then they’ll keep on doing it.

We can debate the finer points about whether the musket was a gift or if it never left the building and so on, but the point is that all of these people (from the president on down) have learned that there won’t be any punishment for anything they do. It’s not like the FCC boss is elected so he’ll stay in office as long as he pleases Trump.
Plus, there’s still no guarantee that *any* issue will cause *any* Republican to be voted out of office.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: No punishment so no reason not to do it

Tell me about it! Conservatism used to be about sane and sober sense and sensibility. We were the ones in the metaphorical flat lace-ups tutting over pointy-toed high heels, kind of thing. Now, the way things are going, conservatism is becoming a freakish cartoon in which the ugliest, most outrageous selfishness and cruelty are normal and anyone who complains about this is a leftie. I hate it!

If conservatism is to regain any kind of credibility going forward we’re going to have to work out what “morality” means and stick to it.

Ajit Pai, the NRA nor the benighted bunch of hypocrites at that event have sold us down the river for power for its own sake. That way madness lies, people!

Anonymous Coward says:

Many jobs performed by the minions require the annual signing of several compliance documents. There is the conflict of interest statement which includes declaration of any and all gifts received, their monetary value and from whom it was obtained. There are strict limitations due to the possible loss of the contract if found out.

Apparently, really rich and influential folk do not have to worry themselves about such trivia.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Has anyone else ever played the Steve Jackson game Illuminati?

This is one of those events that really looks like some kind of bad secret-society-overlord attempt of the NRA >> Gun Nuts chain to capture or link the Phone Companies >> FCC chain.

Or if we’re going to go full Illuminatus trilogy paranoid, a manipulation to get the free internet sector currently resisting the FCC to start resisting the gun sector as well.

Anonymous Coward says:


Coming up next: The NRA gives Pai (representing the FCC) the Completely Out Of Touch In Everyday Society (COOTIES) award. Awarded on the basis of their tone-deaf unbelievable responses to recent events and the outcry of the community at large in response. Just like the weird kid with cooties at school, no-one wants to hang out with the NRA, FCC or Pai anymore.

Anonymous Coward says:


I don’t understand. What motive would the NRA have to support Ajit Pai? What could be in it for them? Usually when these sorts of things happen, it’s because of some mutually shared political, financial or ideological interest.

Does the NRA think that the right to do whatever the hell you want with your ISP oligarchy have some equivalence to the right to do whatever the hell you want with guns? That’s the only possible “connection” I could see here, and I had to think real hard to make that one.

Is this really just about hardcore libertarian virtue signaling, or is there something else I’m missing?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Huh?

I realize I’m replying to myself here, but I just thought of something else.

If I’m right about this just being a political thing, the NRA are shooting themselves in the foot (har har). Think about it, who are the big players in the Western Internet? You know, the websites and platforms that will definitely get all the fast lanes. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google… noticing a pattern here?

All of these companies are currently suffering from varying levels of hard-left cancer, and all of them wouldn’t think twice to ban pro-gun material on all of their platforms. Thus, the NRA’s members would have to suffer slower or more expensive connections to platforms that allow their type of discussion!

How you liking that slow lane, NRA?

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