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Debasing Free Speech as No-Cost Speech -- Part 1 Defending First Principles Series

The genuine U.S. Constitutional principle of "Freedom of Speech" in the First Amendment -- that protects us from the real and time-tested threat of governmental tyranny -- continues to get debased, devalued and misrepresented by the free-of-cost tech movement of Free-Culture, the Free-Software Foundation, Public Knowledge, and their corporate online-advertising allies who commercially-depend on free content and the no-cost sharing of others' private property. They justify their means of debasing, devaluing and misrepresenting Constitutionally-protected freedom speech because it advances their ends of an Internet information commons.

Ironically these freedom-from-cost interests just argued against a Constitutional interpretation of protecting freedom of speech in a brief before a Federal Appeals Court in opposing Verizon's challenge to the FCC's Open Internet Order, because Verizon had the temerity to assert its Constitutional right to freedom of speech, in addition to other legal and Constitutional defenses.

  • Even more ironically, these interests also argued for their owned contrived-special-interest definition of "freedom of speech," i.e. that preemptive government regulation of communications companies with net neutrality is freedom of speech because somehow communications companies, of all companies, have an inherent desire to restrict the speech or communications that customers pay communications companies to make happen hassle-free.

I believe they have made a strategic mistake here in making obviously political arguments to a Federal Appeals court that effectively trample on the legal authority of the Constitution and the concept of the real Bill of Rights.

  • While many may be fooled by the free-of-cost-tech movement's buzzword blackmail of claiming to preserve "a free and open Internet" (which they really mean as "The free (of-cost) and open (to-piracy) Internet"), expect the Federal Appeals Judges steeped in the U.S. Constitution to evaluate Verizon's freedom of speech argument in the context of long established court precedent.
  • Don't expect them to come from the perspective of the unprecedented legal overreach of three unelected FCC commissioners attempting to self-legislate the FCC unbounded new authority to regulate the Internet and all it reaches in the U.S.
  • It is never smart to lecture Appeals court judges about the Constitution, especially when one is arguing it is effectively irrelevant and that an independent agency has invented a better construct for freedom of speech than the founding fathers.

The proof that their construct of freedom of speech is self-serving, contrived and not based on Constitutional principles and precedents, is that when Google effectively argued that it had a freedom of speech right of protection from antitrust enforcement, none of the free-of-cost allies of Google made a peep in opposition to this company asserting its Constitutional right to freedom of speech.

  • Tellingly Google, a company that DOJ, FTC and EU have all have ruled to be dominant, claims freedom of speech for itself, but claims Verizon, a competitive broadband company, should not have any Constitutionally-protected freedom of speech.

This isn't the first time the free-of-cost-tech movement has debased, devalued and misrepresented the concept of freedom of speech. In defeating anti-piracy legislation (SOPA and PIPA), the free-of-cost-tech movement claimed that preventing rampant online theft of propertied Internet content was censorship of people's freedom of speech.

At bottom, the problem the free-of-cost-tech movement has is that they are trying to transmogrify the U.S. Constitutional concept of protecting individuals' freedom of speech from government tyranny into an imagined system where only some corporations, which are in the business of seamlessly enabling people to communicate, are censors and threats to freedom of speech which require preemptive government regulation to prevent.

This has happened because the free-of-cost-tech movement does not seek traditional citizen freedom from government tyranny, they seek the government to protect their unjustified expectation that all digital content, software, and bandwidth should have no cost to them.

Simply, they have turned the cherished principle of freedom of speech inside out, and perverted it from a real and recognizable "freedom," into a self-serving, anti-commercial and anti-property political agenda.