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Richard Larsen: Government Control of Information

December 6th, 2010 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

Last May President Obama declared in a speech to graduates at Hampton University that information is a threat to democracy. He shockingly stated, “With iPods and iPads and Xboxes and PlayStations — none of which I know how to work — information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a means of emancipation. All of this is not only putting new pressures on you; it is putting new pressures on our country and on our democracy.”

Logically the statement is counterintuitive. Information is liberating, and the free-flow of information is the ultimate validation of our First Amendment rights of free speech. For those of us who are wary of the Obama statist agenda, such a statement is ominous. Parenthetically, when I refer to statism, it is Ayn Rand’s definition I employ which maintains “that man’s life and work belong to the state, and that it may dispose of him in any way it pleases for the sake of whatever it deems to be its own tribal, collective good.”

The only logical way that “too much information” is a “threat to our democracy” is if the masses have been taught what to think, and not how to think. In this context, information not conforming to the administration’s objectives can have a dampening effect on their agenda. The president has, over the past couple of years, made clear what he thinks of such nonconformist entities, like Fox News and talk radio personalities. The logical ancillary to the president’s statement is, you can’t have too much information if it’s the right kind (or left kind, if speaking politically) of information; you can only have too much information if it is nonconforming.

Information is the basis for acquiring knowledge and consequently is liberating. Information only loses its liberating power if it’s censored, controlled and manipulated. Even the radical activist Robin Morgan recognized that verity when she said, “Knowledge is power. Information is power. The secreting or hoarding of knowledge or information may be an act of tyranny camouflaged as humility.”

George Orwell characterized the president’s concept of approved, proper, or qualifying information as “Newspeak.” Used efficaciously as a paradigm through which to study Soviet Phraseology, Newspeak serves the interests of a totalitarian regime which seeks to curtail or eliminate alternative thinking by characterizing it as “thoughtcrimes” or “crimethink.” Those who are supportive of hate crime legislation, for example, subscribe to this forced compliance with official state doctrine by proscribing certain language and enforcing compliance.

Many of us who are ardent supporters of freedom of speech, the antithesis of “Newspeak,” have been observing with great apprehension the development of the Federal Communications Commission doctrine of “Net Neutrality.” The name itself sounds innocuous, but the title conceals not only economically destructive repercussions, but opens the way for eventual governmental control of the Internet. Remember, a critical component of fascism is government control over the means of production and the dissemination of information. Such proposed control is antithetical to our constitutional rights and an affront to our civil liberties.

The Center for Individual Freedom has said of the government’s proposed control, “Instead of an open Internet in which competing service providers and wireless carriers remain free to experiment with alternative models, Net Neutrality would for the first time impose regulatory control on one of the few flourishing sectors in our current economy. For instance, carriers would suddenly be prohibited from offering differentiated services, prioritization and other innovative methods to address the problem of bandwidth constraint…Net Neutrality would stifle incentives to continue investment to meet future traffic growth. It would take an Internet that has flourished since its inception precisely because it remained free of bureaucratic control, and dictate operating methods and business models for the first time.” In other words, Net Neutrality is a pseudonym for Net Control.

The DC Circuit Court has already ruled that the FCC lacks the requisite authorization from Congress to regulate the internet, but Obama’s FCC is intent on declaring autonomously that they can exercise such control with a vote scheduled for February.

Most media analysts have warned that the enactment of Net Neutrality is the first step in regulatory control over Internet content, equivalent to what the Fairness Doctrine did to broadcast media. Repeal of that restrictive regulation directly benefited freedom of speech by enabling the emergence and proliferation of AM talk radio. John C. Dvorak has said, “By redefining information services to telecommunications services, the Internet as we know it will be neutered as the FCC begins to crack down on whatever content it sees fit to proscribe.”

This all brings to mind the wisdom of James Madison, considered the “Father” to our Constitution, who said, “A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it is but a prologue to a farce, or a tragedy, or perhaps both.”

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