Blogs > Liberty and Power > The Masses are Asses: 49 Percent Want to Regulate the Internet

Jun 21, 2008 5:16 pm


The Masses are Asses: 49 Percent Want to Regulate the Internet



Back when I was politically active in antiwar groups in Minnesota, one of the people I came into contact with was a Steve Radow, a self-described"independent." Though very much on the political left, Steve always reminded us that"The masses are asses." I thought of Steve when I read this:

Nearly half of Americans (49%) believe that the federal government should regulate the Internet the same way it does radio and television, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national survey.

Thirty-five percent (35%) disagree, and 16% are undecided.

Americans also believe overwhelmingly -- 73% yes to 13% no -- that it should be a crime to harass someone on the Internet.

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Anthony Gregory - 6/24/2008

I agree: Support for bombing Afghanistan -- which necessarily meant killing innocent children -- was as much a retreat from libertarianism as support for mild censorship. Neither is necessarily the mark of an ass, although by some very high standards they both are.


Mark Brady - 6/23/2008

I don't think you can draw the distinction that you wish to make -- not least because there is no choice between what to do seven years ago and what to do now.

I understand that in fall 2001 probably most self-identified libertarians supported the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan to capture Bin Laden. That said, two questions arise. First, whether this was the right way to bring him to justice. And second, whether this was the sole or even the primary objective of the U.S. (Removing the Taleban, as part of a policy to extend U.S. influence over the country, was a different and probably more important policy objective. And, I would add, doomed to failure as it did not address the underlying realities.)

The U.S. continues to seek to project its military and political power in that area. Although the U.S. and its NATO allies have changed their policies in response to the evident failure of their previous policies, it is clear they have yet to face up to the fact that the Taleban are going to be around a lot longer than public opinion in the U.S. and NATO member states are likely to be willing to support military intervention on the scale necessary to secure the puppet state that U.S. and NATO intervention brought about. Specifically, there is little or nothing to suggest that Obama would bring fresh thinking to the question of Afghanistan. And, one might add, to much of any other policy issue.


Keith Halderman - 6/22/2008

I think you need to make a distinction between those having favored an invasion of Afghanistan to get Bin Ladin with the added bonus of removing the odious Talaban regime (not a justification in itself but as long as you are there) and those favoring what is going on there now. They are two different things. When Obama says we need to renew are effort in that country you realize that there is no real change coming.


David T. Beito - 6/22/2008

Good point. Most, however, at least show a pretense of believing that the masses are not exactly asses but misled by others.


Mark Brady - 6/22/2008

1. I'm not surprised to learn that a majority of Americans polled favored Federal regulation of the Internet "the same way it does radio and television." Probably respondents had in mind FCC prohibition of obscenity.

2. And I'd be very surprised if a majority of Americans polled didn't favor making harassment on the Internet a crime. After all, intimidation is a crime in most, if not all, jurisdictions across the world.

3. I'm therefore not clear this is evidence that "the masses are asses." Perhaps by libertarian standards they are but then whose libertarian standards should we use? I find the proposition that, say, the U.S. should have invaded Afghanistan, and that NATO should continue to maintain a military presence there, equally wrong-headed yet my understanding is that members of this blog, let alone the libertarian movement, were and are divided on the issue. I don't think it would be very useful if I wrote that a majority of libertarians are asses, although I think in some sense they are.


Aeon J. Skoble - 6/22/2008

David- You say "Though very much on the political left, Steve always reminded us that "The masses are asses."" - your use of "though" here implies that this is an unusual or remarkable attitude for a leftist to have. It was my impression that this is not at all unusual or remarkable. The left has a tradition going back to Marx of seeing the masses as benighted.

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