There are very few things on which every American can agree.  We fight over the War in Iraq, gay rights, abortion, etc.  But, when we fight, we are all practicing free speech. 


Free speech is the reason I can post this blog – whether you agree with it or not.  It is the reason you can post your own response, either through adding a comment or writing on your own blog.  Free speech means that we all have a voice (or in theory we should have a voice) in our government.  We can all stand up and show our support or our dissent for a sitting President.


To quote Michael Douglas in “An American President”, ” ‘You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.'”


And, that is what freedom of speech is all about.


Except, somewhere along the line, AT&T and Verizon (& I’m sure other companies) have forgotten that this is not just their country.  They want to limit our access to the Internet.  They want to sell bandwidth to the highest bidder.  If you want to view a site, you’re not going to get there unless the site’s owner has paid an extra fee to a communications company. 


That may be capitalism, but it certainly isn’t freedom.


Sometimes, when things are quiet and I have a few moments to think, I wonder what the greatest threat to our way of life is.  I’ve come to decide that it isn’t terrorists.  We were attacked on 9/11 and America didn’t crumble.  We joined together and survived.  It isn’t the war in Iraq or abortion or our disagreements regarding gay rights. 


No, the greatest threat to America is us.  When I say us, I mean all of us.  If we do not stand up and shout at the top of our lungs that we’re not going to stand by and allow companies to hijack the Internet, America will not remain the dissenting, fight among ourselves democracy that it is.  If we sit still and shake our heads, we stand to lose the best of our democracy.


And not one shot will have been fired.


I write a lot on this blog about what’s wrong with our country.  I write about how our leaders have let us down and what we need to do to fix things.  I’m sure that some of my readers agree and some don’t and that’s the beauty of it.  The freedom I have to voice my opinion and you to voice yours.   We don’t have to agree, we don’t even have to like each other, but I would defend to my death your right to say what you believe and vice versa (I hope).


But, if a communications company stands in the way, who’s views will get through?  Only those who can afford the extra fees?  Only those voices that follow the ideology of the companies in charge?


I just read somewhere that Clear Channel just cancelled a billboard because they a) didn’t agree with it and b) received complaints.  Do you want them controlling what you can and cannot see on the Internet?


I don’t.


Oh, and don’t think it’ll make surfing the web safer for children.  Porn is over a billion dollar industry.  I’m sure the porn sites will have the money to pay the fees.


We need to tell Congress, the President and the FCC that we – all of us – still believe in the freedom of speech.  That we want our right to gather and assemble on the Information Superhighway.  We don’t want our voices and words hijacked by corporations.  The Internet is free and it should stay that way.


God Bless all of us and God Bless America.


author’s note:  I will be posting a link to Save the Internet at a later time.  I don’t have it handy as I post this.