We don’t need no thought control

Thought for the day: “A threat to freedom anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – MLK

Amazingly, as the examples of case after case after case of ISP’s instituting content-based suppression of expression (or plainly said: Censorship) pile up, certain bloggers (mainly ‘libertarian’) continue to deny that this is talking place at all. Over at TLF James Gattuso makes an incredible assertion:

Net neutrality regulation has often been described as a “solution without a problem.” While supporters produce hypothetical concerns like little chocolate doughnuts, real-life examples of abuse have been virtually impossible to find. [emphasis added by e_f] That probably explains the excitement in the pro-regulation camp over an incident last week involving the unlikely combination of AT&T and Pearl Jam.

James, to find something, you do actually have to—look!

Here are four other examples, each of them would easily warrant creation of net neutrality laws. Taken together, however, they make an overwhelming case. And let’s not forget the many bands that have been censored recently–Pearl Jam was just the first big one that AT&T tried to censor.

In 2004, North Carolina ISP Madison River blocked their DSL customers from using any rival Web-based phone service.

In 2005, Canada’s telephone giant Telus blocked customers from visiting a Web site sympathetic to the Telecommunications Workers Union during a labor dispute.

Shaw, a big Canadian cable TV company, is charging an extra $10 a month to subscribers in order to “enhance” competing Internet telephone services.

In April, Time Warner’s AOL blocked all emails that mentioned http://www.dearaol.com – an advocacy campaign opposing the company’s pay-to-send e-mail scheme.

And here’s an account of At&T’s pattern of censoring political speech by bands:

“I read your article about this and it makes me so angry that AT&T say this is a one time mistake.

“They did the same thing on the webcasts from Bonnaroo in June during the John Butler Trio show when he was talking about the lack of response from our government during Katrina, and also during the Flaming Lips show when the lead singer was talking about how much George Bush had screwed up. I was at both of those live shows and saw the webcasts later. The sound did not cut out at any other time – only when someone was talking about George Bush or the goverment in a negative way.

“It was not a mistake, it is full out censorship.”

And from the daily swarm, a whole list of censored acts:


Alleged: Nightwatchman (Tom Morello) @ Bonnaroo 2007 (Nightwatchman message board)

Did anyone else watch The Nightwatchman live stream from bonnaroo? Everytime Tom began to talk the audio would cut out. I’m assuming that it wasnt just me.

Alleged: Lupe Fiasco @ Lollpalooza 2007 (Pearl Jam message board)

I actually missed the Pearl Jam set, but I saw Lupe Fiasco’s performance earlier in the day. He has a song called “American Terrorist”, and while the song itself seemed to go by untouched… Lupe’s lead in to the song was. It went something along the lines of “Some of you might know him as George W. Bush… The President. I know him as George W. Bush ___________ (dead air)”. Having seen Lupe in concert before, I know that muted out section was a “American Terrorist”. He pretty much yells it into the mic before launching into the song.

Alleged: Lily Allen @ Bonnaroo 2007 (Lollapalooza message boards)

They were definately censoring what Lily Allen was saying in between songs. When there are technical problems, the picture will stop and sometimes the word playlist above the buttons on the video screen will change to buffering. During Lily Allen my picture would keep playing fine and the sound was gone. The sound while the Roots were talking in between songs just cut out for the first time.

Alleged: Ozomatli (and everyone else!) @ Coachella 2007 (MicheBella on Rotten Tomatoes)

In nearly every band I watched, there was a moment when said band spoke to the crowd. Suddenly, the sound disappeared. I just watched Ozomatli, a very political band, and at the end of a long segment of talking with no sound, the guy turned around and had a picture of George Bush on his back for a split second.

Alleged: Tom Petty (and everyone else!) @ Bonnaroo 2006 (FunknJam Productions messageboard)

A big WTF? to the people in charge of streaming this webcast!! At first I thought that maybe it was a glitch in the streaming or my computer behaving funny. But every so often, the audio would cut out. And it always cut out while there seemed to be some interesting lyrics going on. I didn’t fully realize that the webcast was being CENSORED FOR CONTENT until Tom Petty sang for the third time, and had censored for the third time, “Let’s get to the point, Let’s (dead air) and turn the radio on….” Like that song hasn’t been played on the radio to death?!??! I can’t help but think this all had something to do with…. “Hey Wakarusa Policeman…”

Alleged: Buddy Guy @ Bonnaroo 2006 (webcast setlist)

Talks about Hip Hop/sings about a Cow/Bull/Mule ( censored )

Personally, it would seem that a pattern of behavior exists which has had the effect of denying people their civil rights. I am reluctant to advocate prosecution at the drop of a hat, but in this case, AT&T went far beyond any bounds of propriety.

Relevant here is Amartya Sen’s Development as Freedom, and in particular his discussion on informational exclusions of libertarianism.

We don’t need no thought control

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