Thursday, April 30, 2009

Cass Sunnstein and the Fairness Doctrine

One of BarackObama's now obscure nominees has big plans to regulate the internet. Cass Sunnstein according to World Net Daily has known Barack Obama since they attended University of Chicago law school together. World Net Daily reports as follows about the nominee to head the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

"Barack Obama's nominee for "regulatory czar" has advocated a "Fairness Doctrine" for the Internet that would require opposing opinions be linked and also has suggested angry e-mails should be prevented from being sent by technology that would require a 24-hour cooling off period. "

The extent of concern shown by Sunnstein for the most obscure aspects of American's private lives is truly mind boggling. When he proposes installing software that would link to opposing viewpoints, Sunnstein was just warming up. If he has his way, there will be enforcement of politeness in e-mail communications. How does it work? WND tells us how.

Perhaps Sunstein's most novel idea regarding the Internet was his proposal, in his book "Nudge," written with Richard Thaler, for a "Civility Check" for e-mails and other online communications.

"The modern world suffers from insufficient civility," they wrote. "Every hour of every day, people send angry e-mails they soon regret, cursing people they barely know (or even worse, their friends and loved ones). A few of us have learned a simple rule: don't send an angry e-mail in the heat of the moment. File it, and wait a day before you send it. (In fact, the next day you may have calmed down so much that you forget even to look at it. So much the better.) But many people either haven't learned the rule or don’t always follow it. Technology could easily help. In fact, we have no doubt that technologically savvy types could design a helpful program by next month."

If you thought are worried about a nanny state, Sunnstein has plans that have not even been dreamed of. Welcome to the "Civility Check" which Sunnstein himself describes in his own book as follows.

"We propose a Civility Check that can accurately tell whether the e-mail you're about to send is angry and caution you, 'warning: this appears to be an uncivil e-mail. do you really and truly want to send it?'" they wrote. "(Software already exists to detect foul language. What we are proposing is more subtle, because it is easy to send a really awful e-mail message that does not contain any four-letter words.) A stronger version, which people could choose or which might be the default, would say, 'warning: this appears to be an uncivil e-mail. this will not be sent unless you ask to resend in 24 hours.' With the stronger version, you might be ableto bypass the delay with some work (by inputting, say, your Social Security Number and your grandfather’s birth date, or maybe by solving some irritating math problem!)."

I am struggling to visualise the brave new world according to Sunnstein. His proposal would be the dawning of a new age.... How would life change? Let me count the ways. First please rise for our new anthem.... "Sunnstein on My Shoulders".

1) I would live forever. Since there is always some ill advised thought or sentiment on the tip of my tongue, my life would be on hold I would never get older.

2) People would find ways of circumventing the software, using words that would not trip the restraints.( "You are a regal posterial vexation and a veritable proctological phenomenon. The cessation of your vital signs is a matter that deserves the highest priority. I am seriously considering the possibilities and means of tracheal compression with an aim of intedicting the oxygenation of your circulatory system.")

3) Eventually, people would show up in person to have unfettered communications. In the first step of the New Order, people would wear pendants. Anyone who is offended by what is being said to them could press a button on their pendant. Then the Politeness Police could come in and restore civility.

4) Crime would drop. "I'm sorry sir. I can't put unmarked bills in the bag you provided. You forgot to say please."

5)Study of foreign languages would skyrocket. People would start sending letters laced with profanity in Urdu or curses in Quechua.

6) Eventually, even the face of crime would be transformed. "Before you shoot him, tell him to have a nice day".

7)If you had to type in your Social security Number to talk dirty, you would start to get "Profanity hackers" typing in your Social Security number and cursing each other out. Senior citizens would get fined a quarter from their Social Security check each time they use dirty words.

8) If you had to solve complicated math problems to cuss, America's teenagers would become math geniuses overnight. ("If you pass your calculus exam, I'll let you tell five dirty jokes.")
9) Rahm Emmanuel would be forced to learn sign language.

Sunnstein has even written about animal rights, proposing that animals should be permitted to file lawsuits with human representation. Imagine the possibilities. Sooner or later, Lassie would sue the estate of Elvis Presley for derogatory references to canines in "You Ain't Nothin But a hound Dog." Eventually, couches would be desegregated as dogs across the nation start a civil disobedience campaign of lying on couches in their homes.

I once had a glimpse of a world filled with Sunnstein back in high school when I called a kid a jerk in the lunch room. The teacher on duty said "Rudi ! You can say how you feel. But name calling is unacceptable. Now apologise!"

Full of contrition I replied, "OK. I'm sorry. I feel that you're a jerk."

Cass Sunnstein is very worried about protecting us from regretable e-mails. I think the American people need to be protected from regretable appointments, such as that of Cass Sunnstein. Sphere: Related Content

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Its Sunstein, not Sunnstein. Maybe he'll be appointed to the Supreme Court and the internet will be safe again.