Net Neutrality and Freedom Online

Sometimes there are things that happen in the world around us or in our communities or our country that I feel the need to talk about. Normally I leave politics at the door here. Mostly I talk about faith and my family or my life in general. This is one of those rare times that I feel the need to talk politics.

There is a lot of talk going on right now about the FCC and Net Neutrality. Those in favor of net neutrality are telling us how great it will, how free the internet will be with the government regulating it. Really? I would say that the internet is pretty free right now.

When I decided I wanted to start a blog, I googled hosting websites and came across a couple different ones that were free to get started. I checked them out and finally settled on wordpress.com to host my blog. I came up with a name, put in my email address and chose a password and *BAM* a website was born where I have the freedom to put anything I chose. I didn’t have to ask permission from anyone to start this. I can say anything I want to here. I am FREE to do with this area as I please.

If the FCC classifies the internet as a telecommunication service rather than an informational service, everything changes. No, it won’t change overnight. You won’t wake up the next morning and everything be different, but things will change. The government will suddenly be regulating the internet.

Let’s say you’ve got this great idea to make soaps and lotions. You start out making them just for yourself, but they are so great that you start making them to give as gifts to your friends and family. Your friends and family love your products and tell you that you should start selling them. You think about and decide to go ahead and give it a try. You decided to start a web-based business selling your soaps and lotions. Today you can do it. Find a hosting company to host your website and start selling your products.

When the government takes over the internet, what do you think they are going to want you to do before you start selling your products? Well, what does the government want (force) you to do if you want to start a business in your town? Well, you are definitely going to need a business license ($). There are going to be some fees ($). You’ll definitely need an inspection ($), and probably several of them ($). You did get a permit ($) to make those lotions and soaps here, right?

Let’s say you are a great baker. You love baking cakes and decorating them, and it turns out you are pretty good at it. Some friends ask you to bake a cake for their baby’s first birthday. They take a bunch of pictures at the party and post them to Facebook. “WOW! Great cake! Where’d you get it?” And suddenly, you’re getting asked to make cakes for birthdays and weddings and all sorts of special occasions. You decide to go ahead and give your cake business a name and a Facebook page so you can start taking orders regularly. Maybe you can even make a living out of doing something you love.

And businesses aren’t the only changes that could be coming with government regulation of the internet. Maybe you think the internet could use some regulation. I’ll be the first to agree with you that, along with the many, many good things, there are many, many bad things as well. Although I’ve never looked for it, I am positive that you can find any type of porn you could ever want on the internet. There is probably a site for every type of hate and oppression imaginable. Let the government regulate that, you say. Let the government shut all of the hate down, you say.

Well, doesn’t that sound great in theory. But who gets to decide what stays and what goes? Who gets to pick what qualifies as hate? Right now a lot of people who have never listened to a word he has said would tell you that Glenn Beck spews hate, even though every day he says we should love each other regardless of our differences. But he spews hate, they say. Shut him down, they say. And if you don’t agree with him maybe you think that is a great idea.

But think about this. What happens when we have a different president? What happens when power changes hands? What if those in charge thought that everything on MSNBC is hate and start shutting those people down?

What if those in charge decide that talking about God is hate speech? Or if you write about being anti-vaccination? Or if you home school? Or if you just disagree with the things that are going on around you? Slowly you’ll start seeing the bloggers disappear. What about all those bloggers that share news and political opinions? What if the government decides that they aren’t real reporter, they aren’t real news sites? And then they disappear, too.

Right now you can go online and say whatever you want. You can take videos and millions of people can view them.

Right now the internet is free.

 

I would ask you all to please go to this website and sign the petition asking the FCC not to take over the internet.

Can we agree that the government doesn’t belong in marriage?

This week there’s been a lot of talk about a CEO being forced to resign from his position for donating $1000 to a proposition in California.  This proposition called marriage a union between one man and one woman and received a lot of attention all over the United States. Tonight I read what Matt Walsh had to say on this issue. My original idea was to share his post on Facebook with a little bit of my thoughts. Then I realized that my thoughts were too big for the little room Facebook would give me (or that my friends would read) and my  only choice to share my thoughts would be here.

So, for those of you who read my blog because I write about my faith, here is a warning. This post is a little different. I’m not including a bible verse (sorry, that was a lie. Go check out Philippians 2:12 which tells us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling). This post is not about my faith. This post comes from the libertarian side of me (which I believe I’ve always been but just recently learned what to call it.).

Almost 10 years ago, my husband and I decided to get married. I never dreamed of a big wedding (and my parents offered me money to go to Vegas to get married). I knew I wanted the dress, but other than that I wanted small. Maybe to get married outside, barefoot in the grass. Maybe in a small church (one that even in 2004 looked like the doors were always unlocked) like the one my parents were married in. My husband had a different idea. He thought a sandy beach in the Caribbean would be the perfect place to exchange our vows.

It turns out he was right. Once he said beach, I was sold. It was the best of all worlds. Our closest friends and family would be willing to make the trip, but we wouldn’t have to invite everyone we know. It would be outside. It would be intimate. And let me tell you, it was perfect.

However, it almost didn’t happen like that. My uncle is a preacher, and there was no one else I would have wanted to perform the ceremony that day. My uncle was more than willing to travel with our group of 17 to Saint Thomas, Virgin Islands and do the ceremony. We had a great wedding planner who handled all the details for us. There was one little thing we had to do when we landed on the island 36 hours before the wedding. We had to get the marriage license, and my uncle had to show that he was licensed/ordained to perform the ceremony and the judge had to approve it.

Less than 36 hours before my wedding, my preacher was told he could not do the ceremony and it be a “legal” marriage. There are not words to describe to you how 23 year old me reacted to this news. It was not pretty, and there were a lot of tears.

There was no one for us to call to step in. There was no one else I wanted to be a part of our day. I had been waiting 23 years for this day and the United States government told me my uncle’s pocket membership card with his official information on it was not good enough to perform my marriage ceremony.

Once I was talked down off the ledge, we started discussing options. We didn’t have another minster so just switching was out. We didn’t know anyone on the island (except the wedding planner who was amazing at dealing with my crazy calls). What we did have was each other and faith in God.

A decision was made. The next morning, less than 24 hours from the start time of my wedding, my uncle, my future husband and I would go back to the courthouse and ask the judge to reconsider. If the judge still said no, the wedding would go on as planned, and when we got home we’d go to the justice of the peace and get the official paperwork. And that ceremony would be just as Holy in the eyes of the Lord as if the judge said yes because that piece of paper from the government means nothing to God,

This is my point. I find it insane that the government has to “approve” a marriage. Had the judge said no a second time, we would have had a wedding, and we would have been married in the eyes of our family and the Lord. And it would have been Holy and beautiful.

That day the judge approved our request the second time, but that’s not what this is about. Why is the government telling us who we can and can not marry? How is it possible that one judge in a small family court had the power to approve or deny my marriage?

And why should anyone have that kind of power? Why have we given the government that kind of power over us? Why are they in the marriage business at all? Why should a judge be able to deny my marriage because he didn’t like the paperwork my minister had?

He shouldn’t.

I truly believe that marriage is between the people getting married and God, and the government shouldn’t be involved at all.

If you want to stand before your friends and family and God and vow to love each other until death separates you, then you should be able to. I don’t care if it’s a man and women, two men, two women, a man and three women, or you and your horse. And the government shouldn’t care either. As long as no one is being forced into it, marriage is none of the government’s business.

Again, this is not a faith based discussion, and that leads me back to Philippians 2:12. Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. My personal beliefs and yours on this issue are not important. That’s for a different discussion. What is important is that the government shouldn’t be deciding for anyone who can and can not be married.

I won’t force you into my beliefs if you won’t try to force me into yours. And let’s get the government out of all of it.

There are three of us in my marriage: my husband, my God and me. I have no room in my marriage for the government, and there is no reason for the government to be in it.

There’s something wrong in Boston

Since November, I’ve been following a news story out of Boston. At first it just seemed crazy, unbelievable that this could happen in the United States. I listened to the story and read what I could find on it. Because Justina Pelletier’s parents disagreed with Boston’s Children’s Hospital about their diagnosis and wanted to take her to a different doctor, Massachusetts Department of Children and Families got involved and took custody of their child. This is not the first time this has happened.

I don’t want to get into all the medical issues with this. You can find more information here and here and here about what’s going on with this case.

What is going on with our government and hospitals if they can take custody of your child because you want a second opinion?

Okay. Maybe you think the state is in the right here. Maybe there’s more to this story than we know. I know that I thought there had to be more to it when I first heard about this. This kind of thing doesn’t happen here.

So, instead of talking about the medical side of this, let’s talk about the faith side of it.

Last night I watched another interview with Lou, Justina’s dad, about the case. In the last 13 months that the state has had custody of Justina, she has received no schooling. Along with no schooling, she has also not been allowed any contact with a priest. She comes from a religious family. So not only has she missed birthdays and holidays with her family, she also missed communion at Easter and Christmas. Is there a shortage of priests in Boston that I haven’t heard about? Does the hospital not have chaplains on staff? (Yes they do.)

Matthew 19:14 says, “But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not forbid them; for such is the kingdom of heaven.'”

If everything else that Boston’s Children’s Hospital and Mass DCF has done makes sense to you, can we at least agree that it doesn’t make sense that she’s getting no schooling and is unable to practise her faith? What reasoning could you possibly give for this?

I’m asking you to do your own homework on this story. You don’t have to believe me that what’s happening here is wrong. But, as you read the stories and watch the interviews, think what if this was my child. And if at the end of your research, you find that you do believe what the family is saying, I ask you to get involved.

There are a number of ways you can get involved:

-pray.

-contact the Massachuetts governor, Deval Patrick, here.

-contact your federal representatives (find yours here)

-share these stories with your friends on facebook and twitter (use the hashtag #FreeJustina to connect with others talking about this.)

-visit A Miracle For Justina’s facebook page

-go to www.freejustina.com where you can read more about this story, sign a petition and donate to the family

-there is a prayer vigil for Justina Saturday, March 1 in Merrimac, Mass

-pray.

If this can happen in Boston, it can happen anywhere. If this can happen to the Pelletiers, it can happen to anyone.

What would you do if this was your child?