Time to cancel your internet service! Just kidding. The decision by the FCC to repeal the codes established under the monicker, Net Neutrality, has sparked outrage by many regular internet users and by web-based companies nation-wide. I wanted to state my recent observations surrounding the controversial decision. My purpose is not to take a stance on the issue, for I believe this particular issue to be deeper than could be addressed this soon after the decision. I also believe that there is much misunderstanding as to what “Net Neutrality” actually accomplished and enabled. I seriously doubt many of those offering complaints have read the four-hundred-page order updated in 2015. There are too many people hastily concluding what the result will be, and the truth is that most of this is mere speculation as are many political predictions that turn out to be fallacious. We simply don’t know the result.
The introduction of Net Neutrality classified broadband internet connection as a telecommunications service and placed broadband service under the regulative authority of the FCC rather than the service providers privately. This 400-page regulatory document can be seen here: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-15-24A1.pdf. The repeal was initially given the moniker, Restoring Internet Freedom Act, in the Senate earlier this year and sought to remove the FCC’s regulative authority over broadband service by unclassifying broadband as a telecommunications service. The two-page bill can be found here: https://www.congress.gov/115/bills/s993/BILLS-115s993is.pdf.
One government order places government regulation over the use of internet and the other removes governmental control from the broadband business. While everyone is worrying about having to pay more for certain content to be delivered to them, the truth is this: There was never such a thing as genuine and comprehensive Net Neutrality. It was not until “Net Neutrality” that there was a commission placing lawful regulatory boundaries on the internet’s use. There, I’m sure, are pros and cons whether we have Net Neutrality or Internet Freedom.
What I have witnessed in the last few days has me thinking less about how much I will have to pay for internet or my ability to access freely any information that I want and more about our status as a nation. Doubtless, there will be readers, here, who are conservative, progressive, and liberal regarding their political views. I must make it known that the statement I make here is less political and more moral. I believe that information ought to be freely and equally accessible to all (though I witness that most people choose to remain ignorant or choose to mistreat the available information). I do not think that broadband companies ought to charge more for certain content. I do not believe that government should have the authority to regulate information. Thus, I make my moral plea.
The voices screaming loudest so as to make themselves the advocates for social internet justice are the companies that profit most from the government regulations that were in place. These companies include most prominently social media outlets and pornography sites. On Social Media sites, we witnessed mass censorship even under Net Neutrality (NN only regulated broadband companies). If you don’t believe me, post a selfie and a Bible verse separately and see which receives the most attention, report an offensive post, or consider how many political opinions actually make it into your feed and from which political viewpoint. Information has never been free and equal and it probably will never be. It is why we must be responsible in our learning, in our investigation, and as we form our opinions. Secondly, 44,000 people visit the leading porn site every hour. This alone proves what our values are as a society and exactly what information we are looking to access (information that has little positive impact on the human condition). We are hedonists with lustful eyes who desire to be gratified instantly. We’ve applied the idea of instant gratification to our intake of information and, ironically, it has retarded our society as we tend to always jump on the latest social band-wagon without seeking to understand the depth of the issues facing society and shaping the person. I guess Niel Postman was right. We are tossed to and fro by the waves of abundant information and entertainment without having any bearing for ourselves. No wonder society is full of so many people who don’t know how to speak to one another or reason. Evidence of this is our tendency to condemn, accuse others of immoral action or character flaw, and write off the beliefs of those who dare to disagree with us because it means we may be wrong. In philosophy, we call this an ad hominem attack or fallacy. The general public, for some reason, hears the fallacy and thinks it to be a valid argument against another’s political, religious, or moral viewpoints. We see this on Social Media, we see it in our presidential debates (we should start having these debates in a UFC ring), and we see it as bullies push around the smaller kids on the elementary school playground. If those who are regarded as the most intelligent among us are reduced to fallacy and to convincing their supporters that fallacy is a valid way to debate or reason, then we are perhaps in the worst place both politically and morally than we have ever been as a nation. We can’t talk politics without the ability to reason well and dialogue, neither can we speak well of morals, philosophy, art, human nature, theology, science, emotion, or anything else.
The greatest problem of our day is not Net Neutrality or Internet Freedom, it is that we have no idea how to consume, communicate, and debate the Olympus of information that is available to us.
“One who isolates himself pursues selfish desires;
he rebels against all sound judgment.
A fool does not delight in understanding,
but only wants to show off his opinions.
When a wicked man comes, contempt also does,
and along with dishonor, disgrace.
The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters,
a flowing river, a fountain of wisdom.
It is not good to show partiality to the guilty
by perverting the justice due the innocent” (Proverbs 18:1-5 HCSB).
Should we choose Net Neutrality or Internet Freedom? I leave that contemplation to you, dear reader. Seek first understanding. Practice such a love for those who disagree with you that you would not also be reduced to fallacy of any kind. For even the naturalist, reason is a sort-of moral fabric and reason is the very thing that is lost on our society.
I believe that this moral fabric can be recovered, but the people first need a heart to reason. I can’t just sit here at my keyboard, pounding away trying to convince you to just begin to reason again. You must have a heart for it. You must desire to not just instantly consume any information that you want but to seek understanding. Without this desire, there is no point in my trying to convince you. The nation, I don’t think, will be made better or more competent by our belligering one another with our burdens or opinions. We, in a very real way, need new hearts. Never before have I witnessed the corruption of the human heart as I do now. The message of the Bible becomes even more clear as we weigh it in light of current events. People are fallen because of sin (this includes the insufficiency of human reason). Only in Christ are we restored, and this includes human facilities. My plea is not for you to agree with me. It is not for you to just be better. I desire that Jesus begin His restoring work in the minds of people in our nation. Romans 1 encourages us to understand nature and to practice the sciences. God’s creative work in Genesis 1, especially regarding our bearing of His image, inspires us to be excellent artists, inventors, creators, and composers. Romans 12 states that our spiritual act of worship to God is the renewing of our minds so that we can discern God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will. We need transformation that the FCC cannot bring. We need Christ to regenerate our hearts and renew our minds.