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]