Breitbart is too dumb to survive the net neutrality apocalypse

One of my touchstones is the idea that "every pirate wants to be an admiral": that is, everyone is all in favor of disruption, rule-breaking and tearing down the old order when they're a scrappy insurgent, and once they attain power, they change sides and dream of deploying the tactics that kept them at bay for all those long, hard years.

Case in point: Breitbart News. The only reason Breitbart was able to be economically viable and politically influential is because of net neutrality: if their ability to contact their constituencies was contingent on approval from the establishment they decry, they'd have been strangled in their cradle.

This is true of many things I love and many things I hate: insurgencies rely on free, fair, open infrastructure and suffer under systems of control and incumbency. Boing Boing thrives because of the same free, fair and open network that let Breitbart arise.

What Breitbart doesn't realize is that the weapon they fashion for Trump and his FCC will remain locked and loaded for the administrations that come next: once you erode the principle of net neutrality, then a 2018 Democratic Congress or a 2020 Democratic President could simply turn Breitbart off.

Breitbart can bet on a Thousand Year Trump Reich and hope that the day will never come when they are staring down the barrel of the gun they're slavering to use today, but it's a stupid bet.

This is a point that so many people miss about principled support of a free, fair and open internet. "Principled" doesn't mean that you don't loathe your ideological opponents and wish that their message could be buried: it means that you're smart enough to know that any such attack on freedom, fairness and openness will someday be turned on you. It's not pie-in-the-sky, privileged libertarianism that relies on a perfectly spherical marketplace of ideas of uniform density travelling on a theoretical frictionless internet: it's pure, informed self-interest guided by the self-control and foresight to know that the weapons you fashion know no allegiance to you.

Lucky for Breitbart, we're going to fight for the free, fair and open internet, but not because we won't dance on their graves.