How Do You Sell Neutrality?

Josh Breitbart of MediaTank and Clamor has been blogging lately, and raises a really good question about the framing of the network neutrality debate:

Only a Democrat would think people could get excited about neutrality. What’s the opposite of “neutral”? Non-neutral… Partisan… In gear…?

The same issue has been bugging me, but I haven’t been able to put a point on it as clearly as Josh does. With a bit of explaining I think I’ve been able to demonstrate to folks how the internet as we know it is threatened by the big telcos, but it always takes me more than 25 words (which is not an unusual problem for me to begin with).

While network neutrality is a very succinct and clever way of characterizing this policy question, I agree that it’s less useful as a slogan.

As an alternative, Josh suggests:

We are in favor of an open internet. We must not let Congress close the Internet. Take action now to keep the Internet open.

Why is it important to talk about open/close rather than neutral/non-neutral… besides being more accurate and more readily understandable?

For starters, it fits with our values. We believe in an open society (to use a trademarked term). We believe our government and our communication networks should be open to all.

It is about an open internet, and I think I’ll keep that point in mind.




3 responses to “How Do You Sell Neutrality?”

  1. phlegm Avatar

    I read the same piece and came away thinking, “excellent – another progressive too wrapped up in word-play and messaging to realize they are already way the fuck behind in the fight.”

  2. Paul Avatar

    I don’t think you’re being fair. I think it’s reasonable to consider issues like framing and how to explain and package concepts so that it doesn’t become a barrier to organizing and action.

    I do agree that this does not take the place of action, and that it isn’t useful to worry about these things and attempt to solve the question before acting.

    It can be a continuous dialogue, and a constructive one at that, provided it doesn’t become an end in itself.

  3. […] Yet, while SaveTheInternet has a nice ring to it, I think the organizers should give some consideration to Josh Breitbart’s thoughts on framing the issue I blogged about earlier.   […]

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