The coalition pushing Congress to enact Net Neutrality legislation lost one of its key players after Red State questioned its judgment in selecting political bedfellows. Gun Owners of America announced their withdrawal from Save the Internet after it became clear that the group had strong ties to MoveOn, SEIU, and ACORN, among others. STI had bragged about GOA’s membership as a way to paint their coalition as broad based:
A bipartisan coalition in favor of net neutrality has lost a key conservative supporter amid signs that the issue is becoming divisive.
The Gun Owners of America (GOA) severed ties with the net-neutrality coalition Save the Internet after a conservative blog questioned the association with liberal organizations such as ACORN and the ACLU.
The blog RedState described Save The Internet as a “neo-Marxist Robert McChesney-FreePress/Save the Internet think tank” and questioned why GOA would participate in a coalition that includes liberal groups such as the ACLU, MoveOn.Org, SEIU, CREDO and ACORN.
Why now? GOA claims that the times have changed, and that the Net Neutrality movement has changed over the last four years:
“Back in 2006 we supported net neutrality, as we had been concerned that AOL and others might continue to block pro-second amendment issues,” said Erich Pratt, communications director for GOA.
“The issue has now become one of government control of the Internet, and we are 100 percent opposed to that,” Pratt said.
Er, what? The Net Neutrality movement has never been a grassroots effort aimed solely at private enterprise. It has always aimed at government intervention and regulation of Internet access and network management. That was as true in 2006 as it is today.
Arguably, the issue is free speech, but the problem with that is that NN advocates want government-imposed neutrality on content delivery, which makes sense for a monopoly — but the Internet isn’t a monopoly. (STI still has Parents Television Council and the Christian Coalition inside the tent, at least for now, two groups not known for their opposition to government intervention in speech.) The NN argument treats the Internet as a public utility, an argument that FCC chair Julius Genachowski explicitly made this year, but it’s not, and it’s not even close. Consumers can choose between several different providers, and content handling certainly can inform those choices.
Clearly, GOA’s participation in the Save the Internet coalition depended mainly on whether their ox would get gored or not. With the Heller and McDonald decisions, perhaps GOA feels more sanguine about their future than they did in 2006.