Felten Defends Stevens

Senator Ted Stevens

Ed Felten decided that he is not going to make jokes about Senator “Tubes” Stevens. In his blog, he tries to go against the grain and defend the poor guy from the ridicule.

Ed, we get it. No one is saying that delivering and impromptu, unscripted speech on a very important topic is easy. But as you pointed out yourself, even after cleaning up his examples made no sense. He screwed up. Badly!

This is precisely what happens when you try to pimp an idea that is very unpopular. If you mess up, you will be ruthlessly ridiculed by those who oppose that idea. Net Neutrality is a very hot topic right now, and many people have strong opinions about it. And most of those people do not agree with Stevens. This is not just about humiliating the poor, confused senator. It is about generating bad PR for the whole anti-neutrality camp.

Steven’s speech really helps net-neutrality supporters, by outlining the issue in a way understandable for a layperson:

Arguments for net neutrality:

  • it will prevent censorship and unfair competition by ISP’s
  • it protects freedom of expression using internet media
  • protects future internet technologies from discrimination by ISP’s
  • everyone already pays for their bandwidth

Arguments against net neutrality:

  • internet is not a truck, its a series of tubes
  • it is not something that you dump something on
  • big telecos will pay Sen. Stevens if this bill passes

Obviously this problem is more complex, but it paints an interesting picture. Supporters of net neutrality are big innovative companies such as Google, and legions of young technologically savvy bloggers and internet entrepreneurs. Opponents, are big telecos who want to throw their weight around, and one senile, technologically clueless senator who was lobbied into submission.

Stevens has been playing politics long enough to know that everything that he says in a public forum, may and will be used against him. He did not adequately prepare for his speech, and by fumbling it he provided his opponents with potent ammunition. All is fair in love, war and politics (and internet).

[tags]net neutrality, ted stevens, ed felten, freedom to tinker, series of tubes[/tags]

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19 Responses to Felten Defends Stevens

  1. Gavin UNITED STATES Internet Explorer Windows says:

    Stevens is getting the fair treatment that his actions have demanded. He has acted foolishly in the past for the cameras and this was just another such occasion. I feel no pity for the man whatsoever, and I can only hope the internet remains fair and open despite having individuals such as Stevens making such decisions.

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  2. Luke UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Stewens is a pawn. Fortunately using small minded people like Stevens as political pawns is a double edged sword. On one hand, they get to buy themselves a clueless senator who will push their agenda.

    On the other hand, Stevens is an idiot who can easily make a fool of himself in front of reporters. He is as much a liability for them, as an asset.

    Thus I don’t think we will be hearing much more out of him about this. Telecos will find themselves a more eloquent and coherent mouthpiece soon.

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  3. ZeWrestler UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Any idea whose the smarter moron that will be bought next?

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  4. Ed Felten UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    You’re more than welcome to criticize Stevens on substance. I just think the “tubes” soundbite is a cheap shot.

    If you want to know my views on net neutrality, see http://www.freedom-to-tinker.com/?p=1040

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  5. Luke UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    Well, here are the desired attributes:

    1. can’t be to bright
    2. can’t know too much about technology
    3. must be greedy
    4. must have better public speeking skills than Stevens

    This actually describes around 80% of our politicians! :P I’m excluding Bush because he does not meet the #4 requirement, and Darth Chaney because he is an evil undead robot sith lord sent here from the future.

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  6. ZeWrestler UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Ed: Already read them before commenting here. I’ll write something more thought out there when i’m not at work.

    Luke:

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  7. ZeWrestler UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Damm your blog for not letting me use my img tag in your comments. heh.

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  8. ZeWrestler UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    take three:
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v242/ZeWrestler/lj%20pics/darth_chen ey23.jpg

    ps. you need to get a preview feature so i can see if the tags work.

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  9. Luke UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    You’re more than welcome to criticize Stevens on substance. I just think the “tubes” soundbite is a cheap shot.

    Yes it is, I’m not denying that. But it is also really funny. Welcome to Terminally Incoherent Dr. Felten :)

    All politicians are subject to cheep shots. How many times have we made fun of Bush for mispronouncing nuclear? How many jokes are there about Chaney and his quill hunting skills? How about Bush literally talking “shit” with Blair, or putting a Vulcan death grip on the German chancellor?

    The point is that Steven’s speech is so bad, that it is difficult to extract the substance. Essentially the only points her is making are:

    1. if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it
    2. no one else has net neutrality
    3. antitrust + 4th amendment will prevent ISP’s from abusing this power
    4. we need it because internet will become congested

    But all of that is lost in the sea of silly mistakes, bad examples and incoherent stuttering.

    Besides, who would pass up a chance to create a new internet meme.

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  10. Luke UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    Ze: I just found a nice preview + captcha plugin :mrgreen: It is giving me some issues right now, and I don’t have time to deal with it. But I will play around with it in the evening today.

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  11. un4scene UNITED STATES Internet Explorer Windows says:

    I can’t thank you enough for posting the video of John Stewart on the whole ‘tubes’ fiasco. Totally made my afternoon!

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  12. Luke UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    John Stewart is my hero!

    Un4scene! I haven’t heard from you in ages. How is it going?

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  13. un4scene UNITED STATES Internet Explorer Windows says:

    Hi Poodle!

    (I was about to say ‘Poo’ for short, but that sounded all kinds of wrong.)

    He’s so my hero too. And I’m doing well, just so busy with work and stuff I don’t get around this verse much anymore. But I happen by as you can see! :)

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  14. Luke UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Ze: Ask and ye shall receive. Check out the new preview feature. Btw, img tags for some reason are a no-no in WordPress comments world. It does make sense though. Think cross-scripting + Windows GDI exploits.

    I put a little cheat sheet above the comment box to let everyone know what is allowed.

    I also installed a captcha to piss off the comment spammers.

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  15. Luke UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    un4: Stop by anytime! :mrgreen: I do post funny videos, and silly links quite frequently so it’s not all geek talk around these parts.

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  16. ZeWrestler UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    say that, looks good.

    Reply  |  Quote
  17. Luke UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Btw, do you get multiple email notifications when I post? I’m worried that the preview is messing up with the notification system here.

    Reply  |  Quote
  18. ZeWrestler UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    one e-mail per comment

    Reply  |  Quote
  19. Luke UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Cool. Must have been a glitch on my part then :)

    Reply  |  Quote

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