Growing up, my grandmother used to say, “Stand up and face the adversity.” Listening to her wise words has served me well throughout my life and to this day I refuse to be bullied – which is exactly what groups like Free Press and others on the supporting side of the net neutrality argument are trying to do to.
This isn’t the best of times for those groups, like Free Press, who push net neutrality rules. Prior to this month’s elections, their side trumpeted that 95 Congressional candidates promised to support the policy if elected. Not one of them won.
Meanwhile, the most notable Democratic voices opposing net neutrality are increasingly the major unions, which criticize the policy as being a job killer, and civil rights groups that are concerned with the impact that increased regulation will have in bridging the Digital Divide.
These groups seem to rub Free Press especially raw. After the wipe-out at the polls, Joseph Torres at Free Press now seems to be accusing well respected civil rights organizations of selling our positions for a few pieces of silver. He told Christi Morales of New America Media that civil rights groups deep down support his view but refuse to make a public statement since they get funding from the other side.
Which ones? He declines to say. Who did he talk to? He won’t say. How does he know that their position “deep down” is similar to his? No comment.
The irony here is thicker than you could imagine. Both Free Press and New America Media are funded by pro-Net neutrality organizations such as the Open Society Institute and the Tides Foundation.
But the bigger issue is why Mr. Torres feels the need to attack civil rights voices for what is ultimately a difference of opinion about reaching a shared goal.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that Free Press has shown a severe insensitivity to the civil rights community. One of the group’s founders once compared minority groups to “hungry people fighting over food.”
Since no one should like this level of anger coming from within the community (Look, we have enough problems coming at us from the outside), I would like to offer a gesture of good will in hopes that we might try again to put these allegations behind us. I presume that Free Press, New America Media and reporter Christi Morales genuinely believe what they say. I do not presume there is some conspiracy or dishonesty behind their arguments.
I would hope they would extend the same courtesy to those of us on the other side of this debate.