Why shouldn’t we tolerate just a little repression?

OR WHY NET-NEUTRALITY IS ACTUALLY IMPORTANT

Lest anyone have doubts that corporate-controlled media will censor speech if given the opportunity, here’s this news about mysterious ‘black-outs” in the local affiliates of national networks in Alabama:

WHNT’s Technical Glitches
The New York Times | Editorial
Wednesday 27 February 2008

In 1955, when WLBT-TV, the NBC affiliate in Jackson, Miss., did not want to run a network report about racial desegregation, it famously hung up the sign: “Sorry, Cable Trouble.” Audiences in northern Alabama might have suspected the same tactics when WHNT-TV, the CBS affiliate, went dark Sunday evening during a “60 minutes” segment that strongly suggested that Don Siegelman, Alabama’s former Democratic governor, was wrongly convicted of corruption last year.

The report presented new evidence that the charges against Mr. Siegelman may have been concocted by politically motivated Republican prosecutors – and orchestrated by Karl Rove. Unfortunately, WHNT had “technical problems” that prevented it from broadcasting a segment (the problems were resolved in time for the next part of the show) that many residents of Alabama would no doubt have found quite interesting.

After initially blaming the glitch on CBS in New York, the affiliate said it learned “upon investigation,” and following a rebuke from the network, that “the problem was on our end.” It re-broadcast the segment at 10 p.m., pitting it against the Academy Awards on rival ABC, before Daniel Day-Lewis won the best actor Oscar. As public criticism grew, it ran it again at 6 p.m. on Monday.

Stan Pylant, WHNT’s president and general manager, assured viewers that “there was no intent whatsoever to keep anyone from seeing the broadcast.”

WHNT is owned by Oak Hill Capital Partners, a private equity firm whose lead investor is one of the Bass brothers of Texas. The brothers are former business partners of George W. Bush and generous contributors to Republican causes.

Of course, this has been exposed, but if, as is the case in much of the country, there’s only one high speed internet provider, what’s the chance of these little corporate censorship efforts undertaken by a high speed internet provider being uncovered always? And it’s really not that rare: here’s a list of a dozen or so examples of corporations censoring political speech, by violating net neutrality.

So it has been a problem. Is there such a thing as just a small violation of freedom of speech? Why should we tolerate just a little repression? MLK said: “A threat to Freedom anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Let’s not forget those words. Net neutrality deserves to be on the agenda in 2008, and the only way it will get there is by the electorate telling those running that net neutrality is important.

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