For freedom of speech to have any meaning, others must be free to hear us. And we all deserve the same freedom to be heard.
If a tree falls in the forest, and is not heard, does it make a sound? Yes, if the forest is freely connected to the Internet, and if we’re all equally free to find the site where we can see, and hear that tree falling.
This has not been the case in the U.S. for more than a century. Ever since the creation of the "mass media," through the newspaper industry, your ability to be heard has depended entirely on your ability to get the attention of that mass media.
Those the mass media willfully ignored had enormous difficulties. Yes, this willful blindness spawned many mass movements over the century, but the media control of the flow of information — their ability to determine who would be heard, and to what degree — became controlling.
Today, we assume this is the way it is.
But it’s not the way it has to be.
The Internet has changed the rules over the last decade, and we’ve
loved it. On the Internet, no one can tell you’re a dog is the old
saying. What it means is you don’t know, reading this, whether I work
for a major media institution, or by myself, in my dining room.
My freedom of speech is unlimited, because you are all free to hear me.
That is a new concept, and that is what is threatened in the net neutrality debate.
If the Bells and cable companies can favor one set of speakers over
another, because they paid an additional tariff to use "their" access
to "you," then those favored speakers are more free to be heard than
you are, or I am.
That is what is at issue here.
Free speech, freely heard.