I was about half-way through a blog about the collapse of Chicago’s plan to provide wireless internet service throughout the city – and I still wonder whose greed scuttled what could have been a noble effort to empower citizens -- when I ran across something, that, for lack of a better cliché, makes my blood boil.

See, I was also going to talk about the issue of Net Neutrality. For those who aren’t familiar with it, it seems as if communications giants like AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, and others who provide internet access would very much like to limit that internet access. For example they’re touting a kind of pay-to play tax on website operators (think about it, writers....unless you fork over the dough, your website might languish in some sluggish back alley of the net that takes forever to load and crashes easily.) They’re also thinking about a tiered system for which internet users, like you and me, would pay. Kind of like cable TV. They have to make money somehow, don’t they? It’s the American way.

A bill that would start the process was – thankfully – defeated in Congress last year, but rest assured the battle over what really does constitute First Amendment rights on the internet has just begun. (Btw, for more information, click here.)

At any rate, that’s not what this blog is about. In my research, I came across a group called “Hands Off the Internet.”

Now.. if you came across an organization with that name while researching internet freedom, what would you think? Wouldn’t you think it was an earnest, grass-roots organization? A group who wants to empower everyone with equal access to information? Wouldn’t you assume it was an ally in the fight to keep Big Business off the net?

If you did, you’d be wrong. It turns out Hands off the Internet is funded by the same communications giants I mentioned above. In fact, under the guise anti-government regulation, this group is actually PROMOTING the very same initiatives mentioned above.

Talk about twisting language. Misinformation. Deception. Orwellian Newspeak. Winston Smith would feel right at home.

As someone who tries to choose words carefully, and often anguishes over the right one, I am personally and professionally offended. Admittedly, we’ve come to expect Newspeak from the Bush Administration. Consider:

“No Child Left Behind...” which has left public education worse than before it started

“The Clear Skies Act...” which significantly weakened the 1970 Clean Air Act and gives companies license to pollute

“Sectarian violence...” a euphemism for Civil War

Touting "democracy" in certain Central American countries: Check out David Corbett's "Blood of Paradise" for an eloquent depiction of the pretense...

“Either you are with us, or you are a terrorist”... do we really need an explanation?


But here’s the worst part. One of the co-chairs of Hands Off the Internet is Mike McCurry, President Clinton’s former press secretary. Clinton. Not Bush.

Can you spell “sell-out?”

Okay, since it's clear that Newspeak is not just the penchant of the current Big Brother – er, Administration, nor is it new to American culture and politics, it's time to take notice. If only to warn each other how easy it is to dissemble.

So, dear blog readers, give me your Newspeak-isms. What pearls of twisted, mangled language can you offer up to further confuse the issues? To show hypocrisy, if not outright deception?

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