Michelle Connolly, a professor of economics at Duke University, took a serious, but cheeky jab Friday at supporters of so-called “net neutrality” rules imposed under former President Barack Obama’s administration.
During the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland, Connolly sat down for a panel with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioners Ajit Pai (the chairman), Michael O’Rielly, and Brendan Carr — who are all Republicans.
“I’ll start with the big picture. How many here have heard of wardrobe malfunctions?” Connolly asked the crowd, pausing to determine the level of applause. “How many heard of the FCC? How many of are you are currently on the internet using their cellphone, right now?”
“Still works,” Pai said proudly.
“So I guess it’s still working,” Connolly agreed.
Connolly was presumably referencing the never-ending hysteria surrounding the undoing of internet regulations imposed by a differently configured FCC in 2014. The federal agency repealed the net neutrality rules in December in a 3-2 vote directly across party lines.
Well before, around, and even after that bureaucratic mandate, mostly people on the left end of the political spectrum clamored for others to join in their protests of the imminent decision, and do whatever it takes to stop it. Aside from the vile and racist attacks against Pai, many non-bigoted arguments against repealing the 2014 internet regulations were still littered with extreme, unreasonable, hyperbolic language.
“Trump’s FCC Wants To Kill A Free And Open Internet,” reads one headline.
“White House Endorses FCC Chair Ajit Pai’s Quest To Murder Net Neutrality,” reads another.
“Everything Ajit Pai Has Fucked Up in the Last Three Months,” yet another irreverently critical article from Gizmodo reads.
The brouhaha grew so bitter — and in most instances elusive of actual nuanced policy debates — that Jon Leibowitz, a Democratic commissioner at the FTC from 2004-2013, felt the need to write an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal (which officially endorsed Pai’s rollback) titled “Everybody Calm Down About Net Neutrality.”
With her half-serious, half-joking comment, Connolly showcased how ridiculous some of those arguments that Pai and the FCC wanted to “murder” the internet are.
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