Net Neutral 2

Net Neutrality

Back in 2016 the FCC made the decision to keep the internet equal, open and free. As soon as the decision was made several Internet Service Providers (ISPs), like AT&T, came out and stated they would not give up this fight so easily. Luckily enough for them, they don’t really have to. President Donald has placed Ajit Pai as Federal Communications Commission chairman. Ajit has stated that he is fully against Net Neutrality and just happens to be a former lawyer for Verizon.

ISPs, like Verizon and Comcast, have been scrambling the propaganda machine to further misconstrue their actual intentions with changing the ruling. They call it “different legal footing”, they say it will benefit the poor, but in the end, it can really only be described as one thing; cable company fuckery. John Oliver has managed to find the best way to describe what is going on in this extremely boring and beyond important fiasco. There is really no other way to explain this phenomenon to the average citizen. There are enough examples of cable companies or ISPs taking advantage of consumers and markets to merit real concern. However, perhaps more showing of their misdirection are the 128,000-identical fake anti-net neutrality emails that have been sent to FCC. Some people’s names and identities may have even been stolen to speak out against Net Neutrality. Many pro-net neutrality emails also had fake names and addresses, but were at least not blatantly identical.

Even though cable companies and late show hosts are attempting to garner our support the urgency that this issue deserves is still not there. This right now is a battle for the future of not only the nation but the world. We are talking about the internet; a world spanning system of connectivity with blazing complexity. The people have so far lost out and now corporations make the real decisions for us. A handful of companies against millions of citizens and they still don’t stand a chance.

The real question, for the individual, may be; is accumulated capital the only merit we are looking for to decide who governs the internet? If so, then let the ISPs do whatever they want. Let them charge their premiums for faster internet. We still have books, right?

The question I have for myself; if Ajit and Donald get their way, is this to be the last real battle? Is this the Gettysburg of Net Neutrality or the Fort Sumter? The beginning of our long fight, or the beginning of the end? Either way, we have a few options against Donald and Ajit, including emails to the FCC, voting for a better Congressman in 2018, insulting and belittling rhetoric (that he is clearly immune to), and voting with your feet, just to name a few. Although some companies are anti-Net Neutrality many are actually for it. Amazon, Etsy, Kickstarter, Mozilla and Vimeo are holding a day of protest on July 12th. We can show them some love and support for their action. In the meantime

Advertisements

Post-War on Drugs

A Vision for the Post-War on Drugs World

“Who lives longer? The man who takes heroin for two years and dies, or a man who lives on roast beef, water and potatoes ’till 95? One passes his 24 months in eternity. All the years of the beefeater are lived only in time.”

-Aldous Huxley

Recently, many media outlets and medical professionals have come to refer to the current opioid problem as an epidemic. At the same time alcohol continues to be an even greater threat to public health, as it can be mixed with other drugs thus increasing the chance of death and overdose (Pollack, 2014). Although this information is widely available, it is unlikely prohibition of alcohol will come back into effect. No one is saying alcohol should be a Schedule 1 Drug. To a certain degree people realize that the prohibition of alcohol only exacerbated the problem it was causing. During the era of alcohol prohibition people switched from mostly low-alcohol content beer to a stronger mixture of cocktails and spirits. What we are seeing today with rising heroin and opioid use is this same pattern. New and more dangerous substances continue to surface and are being sold unregulated.

Other opiates, methamphetamines, synthetics, and anything that can produce a kick, are becoming more prevalent on the black market, despite our law enforcement agencies’ most extensive (and expensive) efforts. It begs the question; why refer to the heroin problem as an epidemic when clearly it is capable of moving between multiple populations and between geographically separated people across the globe? Should this not be considered a global problem and be treated accordingly? A look at the United Nation’s report on the global opiate trade should be enough to convince governments around the world to look at this problem for what it really is; a pandemic (UNODC, 2010). After half a century of efforts to combat the trade directly, we have only seen an increase in drug use. It is time to start looking at the situation differently, and hopefully, time to adopt a healthier approach to fighting the trade of opiates.

First, let’s examine the claim that the war on drugs has been a failure. According to an article by The Economist, even when law enforcement has been successful in rooting out the supply line of one source, another quickly emerges elsewhere to satisfy the increase in demand (The Economist, 2011). The Obama administration also touts a change should be made to deal with the demand of these drugs as a health issue. However, this “change” has not been seen in any budgets or policies from the administration. Any efforts to move toward treatment have been overstated and are not sufficient enough (DPA, 2015). The CDC has found that since 1999 the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids has quadrupled, and half of those deaths involved a prescription for things like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone (CDC, 2016). They also discovered that not only have heroin related deaths tripled between 2010-2014, but that the largest increase in overdose deaths from 2013-2014 involved illegally made synthetic opioids, often without the knowledge of the user (CDC, 2016). An article by the Huffington Post pointed out, using graphics from 1999 to 2010, almost every state saw an increase in overdose mortality rates (Short, 2014). “The number of these deaths reached a new peak in 2014: 47,055 people, or the equivalent of about 125 Americans every day” (Park & Bloch, 2016). After decades of harsh policies on drugs and over $1 trillion invested in curbing the supply we have seen nothing in return in terms of overall citizen health (DPA, 2015). The Cato Institute found that ending current drug policies that attempt to stem the supply of drugs would save roughly $41.3 billion in law enforcement and government expenditure (CATO, 2010). Not only do the policies not work, as we have had a substantial increase in overdoses and use, but also they seem to be making the problem worse.

Although the current United States administration has continued with a harsh stance on the issue, the President has recently pushed to open up access to treatment. Part of this better access to treatment includes many solutions that lean towards fighting the demand of substances. They include; a Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Task Force, better access to Medicaid for substance use disorder, expanse of public health-public safety partnerships to combat the spread of heroin, syringe service programs, private sector commitments, community heroin specific policing, and a focus on solutions for rural communities (whitehouse.gov, 2016). With this declaration by the Obama administration, the US government has essentially admitted that it has not been doing enough. However, it has not yet acted to change the policies in place which do nothing, if not help sustain a global black market for opiates and narcotics.

There is a word in German, Verschlimmbessern; to make something worse in the very act of trying to improve it. I think it appropriately describes what has happened internationally since the United States went to war with drugs. According to a SIGAR report, 85 percent the worldwide market consists of Afghan opium years after the US led invasion (McCleary, 2015). Southeast Asian countries are also getting in on the trade of controlled substances. In Central and Latin America drug trade activity has led to violence, from 2007 to 2014 Mexico alone estimates 164,000 people were victims of cartel crime (Glenza, 2016). These cartels now operate not only inside of Mexico as their own little countries, but they also act internationally without regard to borders or any kind of law. The countries plagued by this sort of violence eventually called for the UN to hold a special session on drugs.

Back in 2014 former heads of state from Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, and Switzerland joined with other UN members to push for a new paradigm in Global Drug Policy. It was called Taking Control: Pathways to Drug Policies that Work (drugpolicy.org, 2014). They called for a move toward public health and social investment and away from criminalization. This comes with the understanding that to stop addiction and demand, users need treatment not punishment. Death and prison sentences for minor drug abuse in this perspective are essentially human rights violations.

The government, not criminals, should control drugs with a more sophisticated regulation system. This can reduce the power that black market organizations have. The solution calls for regulation and responsible institutions. While many claimed this is an unrealistic plan, the Commission maintains that an evidence and fact based policy is feasible and necessary. The Commission also pointed out that society and culture tend to change faster than institutions. That being said it is the grassroots movements we should be looking toward and not a decades old destructive drug policy. The Global Commission on Drug Policy hoped to take advantage of the 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session to implement this new policy. However, these bold and new actions were not accepted during the session. A ban on capital punishment for users was left out and there was no mention of “harm reduction” strategies (Glenza, 2016). Over 20 countries in the world have capital punishment for drug offences (drugabuse.com, 2015). “We are not expecting a lot from UNgass,” said former president of Switzerland Ruth Dreifuss. “In this sense, our provision is what the reality is: that the world community is not ready, is not willing, to have the change of politic that is absolutely necessary.” (Glenza, 2016).

It is unfortunate that another solid chance at changing policy and attitude toward the issue was lost. While some say a drug free world is impossible, and they may be right, we can still have a world with better treatment. We decide if we consider this epidemic turned global pandemic a question of health or a question of crime. Some supporters of treating this problem as a health concern are the American Public Health Association, the World Health Organization, the Global Commission on Drug Policy, the Organization of American States, the National Latino Congreso, the NAACP, the International Red Cross, and Human Rights Watch (Miller, 2016). However, it is not enough to say the war on drugs has failed. It does not solve anything but it is a step in the right direction. What we need now is actual policy change.

The call for a switch to treatment versus punishment is gaining ground. But proponents of keeping it a crime persist. They point out the dangers in turning criminals into victims. The argument is that at the end of the day every individual is responsible for their own choices. It is not untrue. More has to be done than just handing out help. The language used here is very important. We will not be able to get desperate people the help they need unless we can make a difference between criminal and patient.

Take for example accidental Governor Paul LePage of Maine. Recently, he vetoed a bill that would have made naloxone, an effective antidote for heroin and opioid overdoses, more readily available at pharmacies and for emergency medical staff. This veto came after Maine saw a spike in overdoses the previous year. The governor argued that “Naloxone does not truly save lives; it merely extends them until the next overdose” (Tesfaye, 2016). Many may feel this way about the problem but more still don’t see turning the blind eye as a solution. People who abuse should not be seen as inhuman or not worth saving.  Saving lives will not inevitably continue the drug problem if we can use the billions of dollars lost from enforcement to create better healthier treatment and offer safer preventative measures. In fact, it seems that when we let people slip through the cracks the cracks just get left open. The argument that abusers are patients of drug addiction instead of criminals has been argued before. An article by A.R. Lindesmith from the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology was written in 1941 about how addicts without treatment become more dangerous criminals (Journal of Criminal Law and Cimonology, 1941). And somehow US prisons in the 21st century continue to be filled with mandatory minimum abusers as well as the substances they abuse.

Whatever specific special interests are in the way of healthy drug policy change are of no real interest to us if we can educate ourselves and use democracy in a positive way. Treatment is a rational plan that must stop being ignored. Portugal became a contemporary model when they decriminalized drugs in 2001. Since then, the country has been able to free up resources to help people and addicts have been able to reach sobriety through their programs. The overall results after 14 years have shown that treating drug addiction as a health problem rather than a moral problem is effective (Aleem, 2015). Another example is Switzerland. In the 1980s they switched to a harm reduction plan by providing more clinics and social workers. The overall result was a decrease in syringe spread disease, overdoses, and a 60 percent drop in felony crimes by patients, 82 percent of which stopped selling heroin and spreading the drug (COP, 2016).

The threat of opioid abuse in our society is not just national, rather it has become entrenched worldwide. It has no regard for borders, and is more than capable of passing through no matter how tall we build our walls. It is true we must all tackle this problem individually but that does not mean we have to leave people behind. It doesn’t mean people have to face it completely alone. The FDA understands this need to help people, even if the administration won’t make drastic change. The FDA last year pushed to approve easy-to-use nasal spray to treat opioid overdose, with acting commissioner Stephen Ostroff, M.D. saying: “Combating the opioid abuse epidemic is a top priority for the FDA” (FDA, 2015).

Author Johann Hari’s recent book Chasing the Scream goes into his three-year long journey into the war on drugs. He talks about how humans look for relief in many ways. When they are cast out that relief becomes extremely rare and we look for things that have the best hooks; from pornography to methadone. We make it even harder for these people to find socially acceptable relief, like grabbing a beer (a deadlier drug) or meeting with friends, because of how society treats them. Users get their benefits, jobs, and support taken away with no way of returning to normalcy (Hari, 2015). Hari also points out that individual recovery is necessary but society also has to change how it treats ‘junkies’ and get rid of the negative stereotype.

In 2016 it does not look like the UN will be able to change the current international drug policy. But that does not mean the general international community needs to keep playing along with the idea that this is a problem that can be tackled directly. While this is truly an enormous global issue we can still make progress locally. Opening up clinics and providing better access to preventative treatment is something that can be done without widespread national and international support. Today with access to the internet and information around the world we can understand that what we are experiencing on Main St. USA is happening in India, Russia, and countless other places. This is no mere epidemic easily solved with a few more armored police cars. This is a pandemic and a health issue. Addiction is global concern.

It is also quite possibly a breadcrumb clue to a much bigger problem. It may be the red flag that alludes to a bigger dilemma of over-consumption. According to Clarissa Estés: “Addiction is anything that depletes life while making it ‘appear’ better” (Estés and Estés, 1992). In this light economic consumption tends to act like a drug itself. We see western social culture bent on consumption with casualties rising from the over-consumption of readily available, addictive, more potent, and legal product. We should not act so surprised. In other words, this is not the ‘Oh No!’ moment, rather it is the ‘Oh…right’ moment. And were it not for the too few systems in place to help victims of addiction the problem would surely be significantly worse. It becomes increasingly hard to ignore economic factors when you consider that a majority of users could not grow opium in their own back yards and these abusers and suppliers will go to great lengths to fill in that market for people looking to escape from reality. Here, ignorance is the real criminal.

The rhetoric so far has not matched what the data is clearly telling us. La aritmetica non è opinione (Italian proverb; arithmetic is not an opinion). We do not need more broken doors we need more conscious healthy citizens. Your average patient receiving morphine in a hospital does not immediately become an addict. The road to addiction and overdose is much longer, much scarier, and more desperate. It takes an environment of poor living conditions, depressed social life, and a psychology of unhealthy consumption to bring a person to the door of their supplier. Addiction is both a social and a health problem and it needs to be addressed as such. At the beginning of this article I left a quote by Aldous Huxley. We need to seriously understand the perspective he brings up. Who led the better life? The 21-year-old dead junkie or the 95-year-old potato eater? While each of us sits back and ponders this, and many may come up with the same answer, we have to realize that there are people who are looking at the world today and what they are saying through their actions is clear; that life in America is now better lived short for some. We need to understand why or we will continue to lose citizens and loved ones to opiate and substance abuse.

 

Bibliography

The Economist (2011a) Drug Policy: Supply and demand. Available at: http://www.economist.com/node/18772646 (Accessed: 25 April 2016).

UNODC (2011b) Drug trafficking. Available at: https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/drug-trafficking/ (Accessed: 23 April 2016).

Aleem, Z. (2015) 14 years after Decriminalizing all drugs, here’s what Portugal looks like. Available at: http://mic.com/articles/110344/14-years-after-portugal-decriminalized-all-drugs-here-s-what-s-happening#.vqrawG9jB (Accessed: 25 April 2016).

Alliance, D.P. (2014) New report: World leaders call for ending criminalization of drug use and possession and responsible legal regulation of psychoactive substances. Available at: http://www.drugpolicy.org/news/2014/09/new-report-world-leaders-call-ending-criminalization-drug-use-and-possession-and-respon (Accessed: 25 April 2016).

Alliance, D.P. (2015a) The federal drug control budget. Available at: http://www.drugpolicy.org/resource/federal-drug-control-budget (Accessed: 25 April 2016).

Alliance, D.P. (2015b) Wasted tax dollars. Available at: http://www.drugpolicy.org/wasted-tax-dollars (Accessed: 25 April 2016).

CDC (2016) Understanding the epidemic. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/epidemic/ (Accessed: 25 April 2016).

COP (2016) Citizens Opposing Prohibition (2016) Available at: http://www.citizensopposingprohibition.org/resources/swiss-heroin-assisted-treatment-1994-2009-summary/ (Accessed: 25 April 2016).

De Luce, D., Friedman, D., Hudson, J., O’Toole, M., Nossel, S., Johnson, K., Staff, F., Schwarzer, D., O’Grady, S., Francis, D. and McLeary, P. (2015) Afghanistan: Still the king of opium. Available at: http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/07/30/afghanistan-king-of-opium/ (Accessed: 25 April 2016).

Drug Abuse (2013) The 20 countries with the harshest drug laws in the world. Available at: http://drugabuse.com/the-20-countries-with-the-harshest-drug-laws-in-the-world/ (Accessed: 25 April 2016).

Estés, C.P. and Estés, C.P. (1992) Women who run with the wolves: Myths and stories of the wild woman archetype. New York: Random House Publishing Group.

Fact sheet: Obama administration announces additional actions to address the prescription Opioid abuse and heroin epidemic (2016) Available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/03/29/fact-sheet-obama-administration-announces-additional-actions-address (Accessed: 25 April 2016).

Glenza, J. (2016) Decriminalize all drugs, business and world leaders tell UN. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/21/un-special-session-global-drug-policy-failure-critics-say (Accessed: 25 April 2016).

Hari, J. (2015) Chasing the scream: The first and last days of the war on drugs. United States: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC.

Lindesmith, A.R. (1940) ‘Journal of criminal law and criminology the drug addict: Patient or criminal’, Inst. Crim. L. & Criminology, 531.

Miller, K. and BDN, S. to the (2016) Don’t let Maine keep fighting the failed war on drugs. Available at: http://bangordailynews.com/2016/03/27/opinion/contributors/dont-let-maine-keep-fighting-the-failed-war-on-drugs/ (Accessed: 25 April 2016).

Miron, J. and Waldock, K. (2011) The Budgetary Impact of Ending the Drug Prohibition. Available at: http://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/pubs/pdf/DrugProhibitionWP.pdf (Accessed: 25 April 2016).

Park, H. and Bloch, M. (2016) How the epidemic of drug overdose deaths ripples across America. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/01/07/us/drug-overdose-deaths-in-the-us.html?_r=1 (Accessed: 28 May 2016).

 

Pollack, H. (2014) Alcohol is still the deadliest drug in the United States, and it’s not even close. Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/08/19/alcohol-is-still-the-deadliest-drug-in-the-united-states-and-its-not-even-close/ (Accessed: 23 April 2016).

Short, K. (2014) The state of drug use in America, in 9 maps. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/22/america-drug-use-maps_n_5974592.html (Accessed: 25 April 2016).

 

War On Militarization

The War On Militarization

“History is but the record of crimes and misfortunes” – Voltaire

If history is this accumulation of crime and misfortune, then it would seem we have arrived at an interesting historical junction in which the perspectives of what constitutes a criminal and where misfortune falls are being brought into question. The definitions of crime have changed drastically in the past fifty years, and with this change comes a change in reactions. Many police departments across the US are seeing an increase in military equipment at the same time as growing distrust in these very same institutions continues. The once stable democratic relationship between citizen, police, and criminal has bent into an unsustainable fashion. And the question is now; how do we return to a balance? How do we want our police force to protect our general well-being? Is this up to the public, or administrative individuals in the government? This is what public and private interests need to negotiate over if we are to have a stable and safe society.

As private citizens we should have the Right to a warrant before searches of private property. And at the same time it is in the public interest to go after real criminals who may be trying to use this Right to continue to commit unlawful acts. As a private individual in the police force you may think your squad needs a bulletproof vehicle. And yet, the public may not want to see their police force escalate slowly into a military. It is a complicated issue to say the least.

If we are to unwarp the association between citizen and police force the elements of hostility should be reduced as much as possible. With a recent economic crisis, police departments across the nation have seen budgets shrink when it comes to training but not when it comes to surplus military equipment. This has led to more poorly trained officers sometimes armed to the teeth entering the force. Add that to a growing trust issues between the public and police officers and you have what can only be a recipe for disaster. There is, on one hand, this necessity for the police as an element in our democracy, but, on the other hand, perhaps the best way to protect both officers and people is not to have an all-out arms race with criminals or to scare our citizenry into submission. There are alternatives to combating crime that are far healthier for society, reach the same goals of protecting the public and still include a safe modest police force. Stress and scrutiny, at this junction in our history, should be put on what constitutes a modest police force. This analysis will show that a modest police force should not include a donations or trade system between local police and the military when it comes equipment and that such a system is detrimental to the over all goal of community protection and health. It will also go into the other reasons for the growing mistrust between community and police force.

Many people across the nation are starting to see their local patrol cars turn into armored response vehicles. This is not only in high risk areas either, this is happening in rural and typically safe towns across America, towns and communities that have almost no need for such tools in their force. And people are starting to get worried and voice their concerns. Who can blame them? It is quite a strange sight to see a SWAT team geared up and ready to go, at least in most of the country, and I think this is a good thing. Most people seem to be under the impression that this turn of events is out of the ordinary, although some might not care or even find the increase in strength necessary. It is interesting then to look back just a couple centuries and note that the government was not always the provider of such police services. The Boston PD touts that it is the first paid, professional public safety department in the country, with origins going back to the early 1800s (BPD). Before that the government had much less of a role in policing local communities. When it finally became normal for the government to provide this service it was still with certain restrictions. The Posse Comitatus Act was introduced following the Civil War with the intent to end the use of federal troops as a police force in the recently defeated south (RAND, 1997). However, over the years this act has had several exceptions added to it, including; exceptions for the National Guard, the president’s power to quell domestic violence, surveillance by military personnel, and a “drug exception” as part of the War on Drugs (RAND, 1997). With these exceptions and the handing over of military equipment to the police it is almost as if the Posse Comitatus act doesn’t exist anymore as a rule of law. This is no longer the faint suspicion of a police state but a bold shadowy outline of what is to come in the future.

The more recent increase in police armament all started with growing civil unrest in the 1960s and 1970s. This is when our famous Special Weapons and Tactics (or Attack Teams, which ever acronym you prefer) were brought into use (Haberman, 2014). Their utilization seemed to be justified for a time, despite calls that their use was sometimes overzealous. Fast-forward to the 1990s and one might assume that the increase in police force was for the best. It was in the 90s that crime rates started to significantly drop across the board. What is even more interesting to note about this, is that the cities with the highest immigrant populations were the ones that saw the lowest drops in crime rate. And even though no one was expecting an all-out de-escalation of efforts to fight crime, nobody expected what was to come next.

Police departments across the nation began adopting a new system called CompStat; which evaluated police officers and precincts on the quantity of arrests and not their quality (Taibbi, 2014). This development was coupled with a new stop and frisk policy, turning the police into fishermen and citizens the potential catch, regardless of innocence. The smallest offences were now subject to jail time in bizarre twists of legalese and mandatory minimums. Many have already heard that the US now has the world’s largest prison population with 20% of the world’s prisoners and only 5% of the world’s population (ACLU, 2011). And as the 90s continued the subtle arming of the police picked up pace. In 1996 the War on Drugs continuation prompted congress to alter a previous agreement that local police and the Department of Defense had. The National Defense Authorization Act Section 1208 had allowed for “transfer to Federal and State agencies personal property of the Department of Defense, including small arms and ammunition, that the Secretary determines is (A) suitable for use by such agencies in counter-drug activities; and (B) excess to the needs of the Department of Defense” (Wofford, 2014). Section 1033 was then added to help agencies continue to battle the war on drugs only this time with camo, assault weapons, bullet proof armor, smoke bombs, tear gas, and other tactical equipment.

With the police looking to fill their quotas in a decade of low crime they started treating drug addicts as enemy combatants. Even with prisons full, the government’s response was to further arm police departments to the teeth with surplus military equipment, sometimes free of charge. While many Police Chiefs have been able to responsibly use their SWAT forces to reach peaceful ends, we have seen that this is not always the case. In 1999 during the Seattle World Trade Organization riots the police were seen to have used heavy handed tactics on protestors sitting down holding up peace signs (Burton, 2014). This is certainly not what the government had armed these police for, well at least not explicitly on paper. Two years later, after 9/11, the government had even more reason to arm the police. The war on crime and drugs had already given them enough reason to create a police state, and now they had a war on terror to fight as well. All of these developments brought in new rules to how the police were allowed to play.

However, for some reason, it really wasn’t until August, 2014 that people started to really take notice. After the shooting of Michael Brown police in Ferguson came out that month and showed, not only the US but the world, that many towns in the country were ready to install marshal law at a moment’s notice. The incident has become a beacon example for police brutality and militarization. And it is about time too. As of 2014, according to Professor Peter Kraska of the School of Justice Studies at Eastern Kentucky University, the amount of police departments with SWAT teams had grown to over 80% (BDN, 2016). This is quite a staggering percentage when one takes into account that 48% of departments employed fewer than 10 officers (Fulton and Reaves, 2015). Small town America is ready for war, but with who exactly?

Whether it is crime, drugs, or terror, the War is On. Most people probably can accept that a good degree of police security involves police strength. It is their deadliness that is part of what makes them effective protectors of the public. They are the severe necessity for the unimaginable situation. However, strength cannot be everything for a police officer. There is also a responsibility to safe guard life and only take it when necessary. And although, the line between which of these is more important is being blurred in precincts across the nation, some in the police force argue that there is flat out no militarization. They are adamantly still peace officers first and tactical sharpshooters second. Protection of the community is still the constant goal here. However, the quality of that protection may need augmenting.

Special Weapons and Tactics teams are not only necessary in a lot of violent instances, they are also obligated to try and de-escalate the situation if possible. They should remain vigilant but non-lethal and their first priority should be to protect citizens. Unfortunately, defusing the tension in these situations is sometimes a near impossibility. Americans have somewhere between 270 million and 310 million guns, that is a gun for pretty much every individual in the country, and yet weirdly enough only around one-third of Americans admit to owning a gun (DeSilver and Posts, 2013). We are a nation of John Waynes. And remember, these are not just hand gun six shooters we are talking about. Some felons are armed very well and are not in best of psychological states, making them even more dangerous.

Police officers in America do need appropriate response firepower and armor in many situations if they are to be successful and save innocent lives. In the blink of an eye a suburban home somehow becomes a castle. There are plain clothed officers, ducking behind trees and cars, and the nearest armored vehicle that could get them close enough to the house to do anything is over an hour away. There is certainly a need here to protect these officers and make the best of a heinous situation.

It was not too long ago, in April 2009, that Richard Poplawski gunned down three police officers in Pittsburgh (Robbins & Hamill, 2014). He did this with an AK-47, a shotgun rifle, three handguns, and a bullet proof vest. During the four-hour long exchange of fire with Pittsburgh SWAT he managed to fire off some 600 rounds (Regnary, 2013). If our officers are potentially going up against Kalashnikovs in urban encounters they will certainly need adequate armor. And if their potential adversaries may also have bullet proof vests, they will need to have the tools to work around that too. Unfortunately, some parts of America are like that; a war zone.

In the past ten years the average number of officer deaths was 150 per year; according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund that is 1,501 all-together and one officer death every 58 hours (Malkin, 2014). Sometimes these deaths have even involved ambushes on officers, giving them little warning or chance to respond. We are ever grateful for their sacrifices and protection. And our ever present anxiety for these men and women is certainly worth the effort to better equip them. In a poll by Rasmussen, it was found that 58% of likely voters think there is a war on cops in America (2015).

This is an interesting point of view to have though, especially when one notices that police deaths have actually been steadily declining as fatalities committed by police have gone up. Data from the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund notes that the highest year for officer deaths was 1930 with 304 officers killed, this declined significantly during the war effort and remained in the low 100s until the 1970s (2004). From 1970 to 1974 officer fatalities jumped from 220 to 280. It would have been around that time that SWAT efforts kicked in and officer deaths have remained below 200 since those years. As it turns out 2015 marked possibly the safest years for police in a quarter century (Lartey, 2015). While police continue to get safer themselves it is increasingly more dangerous to be caught by them. It would seem the wars on everything have tipped the balance in the war on cops. We missed that crucial balance point, perhaps around the turn of the century. That was when crimes were going down in the 90s; including gun homicides which continue to decline (Krogstad, 2015). While no one is saying that we should accept high police mortality, many are concerned with the fatality of police. There are still too many unarmed victims and gun misfires for anybody to be content.

In a PBS special called Police and Guns, police chiefs, sheriffs, SWAT team leaders, as well as family members of victims of police brutality and heavy handedness, met and discussed the issue of whether law enforcement is becoming too dangerous. One victim, a mother, talked about the police had raided her house without warning or warrant, got the wrong house, and a tactical grenade landed in her child’s baby crib. The child survived but barely and with life altering complications. It was in front of her, and to others like her, that these police veterans and leaders had to give an explanation (PBS, 2016).

The officials offered their sincere condolences and properly laid out the reasons why we do need these kinds of tactical programs. One police chief pointed out that a lot of the military gear received was non-lethal, such as radios, and that the grenade launcher was for gas canisters and not grenades (PBS, 2016) For many of the other law enforcement officials in attendance the equipment was given to them so they could save money. Basically saying that it wasn’t their fault that they had the assault weapons and armored cars. They are however, still responsible for any acts of militancy that may come from the use of that hardware. Several also mentioned that due to budgetary constraints training for officers was becoming insufficient. It seems odd that the Department of Defense would be short-sighted enough not to see that military gear in the hands of non-military officers might eventually be abused.

For many police though, there is no militarization at all, everything is completely normal. VICE recently interviewed a Ferguson veteran black cop to talk about militarization and racial divisions. He had this to say about people calling for demilitarization in the city.

“So it was kind of surprising to see some of the backlash that people were saying about the military tanks. I’m a veteran myself, and I was in a tank brigade and those aren’t tanks. If you look at a Brinks truck, that’s basically what you’re looking at. As far as any type of gunnery or equipment that they would have used on that particular vehicle, that’s not given to us. They’re vehicles we’ve always had. I guess that’s my surprise: to see people seeing these vehicles for all these years, and we never heard anyone say, “We don’t [want] the police with the militarized vehicles” (Zimmerman, 2016).

It would seem many cops don’t see the problem as it is right up front, they look at the extra armor and from their perspective it is protection and not aggression. This is a dangerous mind set for our protectors to have. The divide between the police and the communities they watch over is becoming more and more apparent. When an officer finds that it is necessary to wear military equipment to deal with the community he or she works in on a daily basis, something is off. Until they metaphorically step out of the uniform, step into the shoes of the people they technically work for, they will never see the tank in the Brinks trunk.

Even the government has noticed steps need to be taken. But the administration can only do so much apparently. “Pentagon officials said they ordered Ferguson to return the two vehicles in June this year after discovering in a data review that the city had been given twice as many Humvees in 2013 under the so-called “1033” equipment transfer program as they had previously known, without proper federal authorization” (Swaine, Ackerman, and Siddiqui, 2015). However, weaponry continues to find its way to the police only now with more red tape in the way. Whether we like it or not a surplus extra army has been raised in America.

It is clear that in moments of social turmoil (including peaceful protests) there will be people who take advantage of the situation, looting, hurting people and property, using the shelter of other people’s constitutional right to assemble to bring violence to police. It is true that the media does not report often on successful raids enough (it isn’t good for ratings apparently). So much good work goes unnoticed and when a few cops step out of line suddenly they are all in question. It must be frustrating beyond belief. However, this is necessary of the media in one sense. The sense that the media is doing its job of checking the powers that be. So with the information at hand, should the American people be worried about their guardians increasing power? Or is the extra strength necessary to protect the collective citizenry?

While some preach the necessity of heavy weapons and tactics others point out that such military presence only escalates tensions. Those others are usually citizens. So do bigger guns and armored vehicles ignite a feeling of fear? In the light of a majority of opinions and my own, the answer is most certainly yes; militarization (or equipment overflow or whatever you want to call it) does escalate tensions for citizens. The minute it becomes normal for average police to view citizens as potential combatants and not human beings, that is the minute both sides start looking for more protection. When cops show that they are threatened by the community, the community will show that they are feeling threatened as well, just as any two animals in the woods might upon crossing each-others path. The police don vest, helmets, and load up bigger guns. The citizens start collecting more bodies and to show their frustration the sticks and stones may start flying. When tear gas and rubber bullets become the response it is usually answered with further disobedience. It is here that sometimes, perhaps too often even, violent opportunists ruin any chance for the police to see a gathering of people as anything but hostile.

When I think of armored cars I don’t think of tanks necessarily or all-out-war either. I think of someone in an office deciding which options are going to be cheaper in the long run. It is a cold calculation that says we are here to stay and to control the area. It screams of occupation. Tear gas, rubber bullets, real bullets, assault style weapons, are all now in the police tool belt all over the nation. We have seen this tool belt be abused on peaceful protestors merely acting in accordance with their rights. Haiku, of the Black Lives Matter movement, pointed out during the PBS sit down that weapons definitely escalate the situation (PBS, 2016). It is not out of our understanding of psychology to notice that military gear in any situation heightens tension and increases the chance for violence. Despite this violence already being present in some communities across the nation the weapons still send the wrong message. A friend of Mr. Poplawski (our AK-47 enthusiast from Pittsburgh) pointed out that the shooter felt his life was being diminished, he said he would be ready for an invasion in the US and had stockpiled guns and food just in case (Robbins & Hamill, 2014). He apparently thought that even a militarized police wouldn’t be bothered to help him out in any such eventuality or perhaps he thought they themselves would be the first to invade. We have a military for a reason and a police force for a very different reason. The police are not occupying or liberating us. They are our community guardians. However, some police officers, the bad eggs, are forgetting their specific role in society. Matt Taibbi points out in his book The Divide that putting an entire segment of the population on the defensive, leads to distrust of police and laws. Stupid behavior by police, stop-frisk strategies, dragnets, all these things lead to less respect for police (Taibbi, 2014).

There are several reasons for distrust in police. First of which is the lack of transparency. Steven Greenhut in California reported on a fix the Assembly Public Safety Committee got away with. “Police lobbyists and union officials were given reserved seats at the front. As I reported at the time, some onlookers in attendance openly mocked the people who showed up to support the transparency bill. The committee chairman gave a rambling chat defending police” (Greenhut, 2016). The court shut down public access to information about police who may have broken the law and abused their positions. A just democracy is almost impossible without transparency. It is even more concerning when that lack of transparency leads to a lack of accountability.

The absent accountability is the second reason for mistrust. Tess Owen from VICE shows us how bad things have gotten in America.

“Federal prosecutors in the United States declined to bring charges against cops facing allegations of civil rights violations in 96 percent of cases between 1995 and 2015, according to an investigation by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The newspaper sifted through almost three million records from the US Department of Justice, and found that prosecutors did not pursue 12,703 potential civil rights violations out of 13,233 cases. The same couldn’t be said for other kinds of cases against non-police defendants. The investigation found that federal prosecutors declined to bring charges in only 23 percent of other types of criminal cases.

The stunning findings provide the hard, nationwide data to back up one of the fundamental claims driving the Black Lives Matter movement – that police officers are rarely held accountable when faced with allegations of brutality or misconduct, and whose victims, more often than not, are black and Hispanic” (Owen, 2016).

This is a completely unjustifiable turn of events and it still isn’t the worst we have heard. The CATO Institute reported that police militarization has led to extreme constitutional violations. When SWAT raided Andrew Cornish’s home they made every mistake they could have and saw no rebuke. “First, the police violated the knock-and-announce rule when they failed to wait more than five seconds for him to answer the door after knocking. Second, the police violated the prohibition on excessive force when they shot him to death” (Sharipo & Meyer, 2015). The law then saw fit to let them get away with these infractions. You may also remember the Baltimore Riots last summer after the killing of Freddie Gray by police. Edward Nero, one of the six officers tried for his murder, recently received a verdict of Not-guilty (Marbella & Campbell, 2016). Citizens, including members of Black Lives Matter, have been calling for accountability that they may never see. The BLM movement thought that after Michael Brown and Eric Garner in New York City they might see some justice in Gray’s case; they were disappointed.

A third reason for the state of mistrust is the increasing fraternal feeling of the police force. When this comes in contrast with the community they stop being seen as protectors and start being seen as others. This otherness creates an ‘us versus them’ attitude for both parties involved. There are really only two things that can happen with weapons; the first is that they are used, the second is that they sit there do nothing and instill a sense of uneasy fear, like some sort of crazed mutually assured destruction within a single country.

The biggest reason for mistrust is that many see that race is still a playing factor here. The Ferguson police officer interviewed by VICE even admitted that “We cannot have the support of the community if the police are looked upon as racially profiling, [ticket] writing, shooting innocent people, unarmed people. Those types of images have done nothing but bring law enforcement back” (Zimmerman, 2016). A library could be written about these racial injustices and since the focus here is on police militarization I will only add that what I have read has made me sick. And to anyone who sits content with the fact that they are not a minority, realize that how the government treats minorities is an indication as to how they would treat everybody if they thought they could get away with it.

The fifth reason for distrust may be the dangerous mindset that some officers seem to have acquired. It is a perspective where they look down at the community instead of respecting it. I have come to think of this as the Die Hard problem. Too many cops now have this bizarre idea of what it means to be a cop because of this mass movie culture. As Hans Gruber puts it in Die Hard; “Just another American who saw too many movies as a child, another orphan of a bankrupt culture, who thinks he is John Wayne, Rambo…” (McTiernan, 1988).

Of course, not every cop has fallen prey to this. Some Americans can even still separate fact from fiction. But not every human being is so capable under such circumstances. Awhile back I was visiting a friend in Brussels. At a pub we met this police officer from the United Kingdom. After striking up a conversation and finding out that I was American, he began to reveal to me how he wished he was a cop in the USA. I did not have to ask him why. He told me he wanted to have a gun, he wanted to save the day, and shoot the bad guys; bang-bang. I told him straight to his face that I was glad he didn’t have a gun, most of the UK was glad he didn’t have a gun, and that he didn’t need one to do his job right. At least not in England and Wales, where there have been 55 fatal police shootings in the last 24 years (Lartey, 2015b). For comparison, police in the USA killed around 990 people just in 2015 (Somashekhar & Rich, 2016). (This is also the only instance in which I would over look police action in Northern Ireland, where another unjustifiable escalation of community and police violence existed for a long time.) The point here is that a demilitarized police force clearly reduces fatal shootings by officers. It should also point out the Die Hard problem, the psychology that shows how human beings want these admirable things like respect, adrenaline, and power. This is the insane idea that any old New York city cop can stop an invading troop of terrorists. I hope they can, but I don’t want them to go looking for it. That is the last kind of person, cop or civilian, that I want to have an assault rifle.

The reasons are many for the recent divide between the police and the communities they protect. They are mixed and varied and together they create quite a mess. The next questions are; are the police really as dangerous as people are starting to think? And if we want to demilitarize, is it already too late?

Fatal shootings by police have continued to increase in the past few years. It turns out militarization, like surveillance, may be used for enemies at first but later they are used on anybody. We have seen it here and we have seen it all over the world, even in western countries. Force is now being used in a highly inappropriate manner. The CATO Institute pointed out that: “SWAT teams and tactical units were originally created to address high-risk situations, such as terrorist attacks and hostage crises. Today, however, these extreme situations account for only a small fraction of SWAT deployments; they’re used primarily to serve low-level drug-search warrants” (Sharipo & Meyer, 2015). And if we remember there has also been an 80% increase in number of SWAT teams across the country. Rural American doors are being smashed in to fight the War on Drugs. Sometimes it may be dangerous drugs like methamphetamines but a lot of the time it is not worth the risk or loss of life. In January 2011 police did little investigation when raiding a house for pot, the owner Matthew David Stewart had no idea who was coming into his house, he shot back and killed an officer (Balko,2014). We will soon need a color coded threat meter for our own police departments. Not just for us but for them as well. What makes these men and women dangerous, what separates the good officers from the bad ones, is probably the lack of training that seems to be going around like a flu. While the budget doesn’t have room for better training it somehow has room for new weapons. These new military weapons are now being handled by untrained officers. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, nearly 1 in 4 local police officers worked for a department that required entry-level officers to have at least a 2-year degree (Reaves, 2015). Small police departments, the White House said, “often lack the resources for training and equipment accessible to larger departments” (Johnson, 2015). It is these small and local police departments that do not need an increase in firepower, while their training remains stagnant. How is it that military surplus equipment was ever seen as a cure all? The problem with lack of training is that it makes any police officer more dangerous and it makes them want to use their new tools. Some departments, when receiving equipment, have had to assure the Department of Defense they would use the tools at least once a year. They are just fanning the flames here.

This danger from under-trained and under-educated officers brings up an interesting instance from New London Connecticut. Robert Jordan had dreamed of being a police officer and after acing the test he was subsequently told his I.Q. was too high to be a cop. It turns out many police use the WONDERLIC personality test, which showed them that Robert would have gotten bored at such a job (Agorist, 2014). Or at least that was their excuse. How many other too smart civilians were turned away and didn’t know why? How many officers scored just above passing and were given a gun? I think it would be prudent to have police go through 4 years of training and university for all of our sakes.

Regardless of excuses we now have a heavily weaponized and untrusted security apparatus that is drastically under-trained with a score of members apparently no smarter than the guy flipping your burger at McDonalds. As it stands the national police force seems to be a danger to its own mission. The calls for demilitarization have been heard but is it the answer? I believe it may be too late for that. The guns are out there, the armored bobcats are out of the bag, and de-arming the police would be almost as difficult as disarming the gun toting population of the country. So what are the alternatives to our desperate situation here?

First let us take a look at the quality of our police force. There has been a clear decline in trust, an increase in military equipment, a lack of transparency and accountability, abuses of power, excessive force, and abysmal training. These things make it difficult for good police officers to do their job, to stop crime, and to protect citizens and themselves. There is almost no logic behind these developments. Our police were not always so feared. Our citizens have also never been so innocent (drop in crime rates) or so armed themselves (gun ownership). It is more important now than ever to have the democratic oversight necessary to hold police accountable to the terrible distinction they have to make between civilian or criminal. We must realize it is a difficult choice to make but we must also not let them be immune to scrutiny. If there is no response to mistakes who knows what they will start to think they can get away with. Corruption itself is already problem enough.

In my local community I get annoyed when I am pulled over, but in general I am glad they don’t perceive us all as potential criminals. But the mentality is not the same across the board. This is especially true in the more dangerous neighborhoods in America. This is where things need to change to help the cops to better make this distinction between threat and non-threat. Only then will police mortality and fatality decline. The change could come in a variety of ways but the most reasonable way to balance population and police safety would be to set these standards:

  1. Stricter standards need to be set for officers in choosing non-lethal alternatives when it is possible. Time is also a good weapon in the right circumstance. A week long standoff is better than a three hour one with heavy casualties. I also scrolled through too many incidences in 2015 fatalities where a victim was hit with a Taser gun and then also shot. We need to move away from Trigger Happy policing.
  2. The way in which police are hired and recruited needs to drastically change. We need smart cops who understand the extraordinary role they play in our democracy.
  3. Police Training quality should improve drastically. If money is really the only thing in the way of our collective safety I think we should find it. Budget or not an inept officer is a danger to not only civilians but fellow officers as well.
  4. Greater transparency should also be sought after. Some departments have already started using the body cams and this is a great step in the right direction. But those videos need to be available to the public, or when that is not possible due to security concerns it should still be used as evidence in any case. There have been some reports of cops not even turning their cameras on, which leads to our next standard.
  5. Accountability needs to start becoming the norm. There have been too many times when witnesses have testified that the victim was not a danger and the officer who fatally shot them was allowed to walk free. Only with greater accountability will bad cops stop trying to see how much they can get away with. No police force should be above the law.
  6. The use of datasets to reduce police violence is another solution. Data so far has been mostly lacking when trying to prove that police abuse or corruption had taken place. Better more comprehensive data should allow us to pinpoint which departments need reform and in what manner. If departments still ignore calls for just reform the data could be used by the U.S. Attorney General to improve federal litigation and force them to take action (Rushin, 2016). This is how we can work to hold police accountable from a national level.
  7. From the local level another solution arises. The use of community patrols, a common part of the job, have been shown “to stimulate community involvement with the police force and to reduce individual feelings of insecurity”(Montolio & Planells-Struse, 2015). This will help to re-build the trust that has been lost between the community and the protectors.
  8. Lastly, if at all possible, demilitarize. Perhaps turn those surplus army vehicles into drunk buses or anything else that could be more beneficial to the community at large. We are Americans, we are innovative and I see no reason why surplus military equipment could not be used for good. We do not want these things to be used to intimidate people practicing their rights to gather and speak their mind.

There are many ways to solve this problem. The worst course of action would be to do nothing at all. If we risk that we may see the police state come to full fruition in the future.

Historically when local deputies have been armored and strengthened it signaled a government preparing for a seizure of further control over the citizenry. But something about our case here in America doesn’t quite fit with that narrative. Perhaps what we are experiencing is not the ever feared hostile reduction of liberties. Perhaps it is merely the overflow of the dreaded military industrial complex. So many weapons and still more and better ones are made. While piles of assault rifles have been gathering in the developing world, those piles are now showing up in our own borders. And I wonder which scenario is worse. The one where the government has accidently created one too many paramilitary police departments or the scenario where they are gearing up for a crackdown on civilians in the near future.  If these police departments continue to get surplus equipment without training there is one very likely scenario. The weapons will do exactly what they were made to do.

We cannot afford more momentum on militarization, and I cannot remember ever voting on allowing this, so maybe a vote is order. Should the US allow surplus military transactions to police to continue? Or perhaps a vote on increasing police training in dangerous areas. To those who say that it is economically unfeasible, I say we get creative. According to the Federal Register government website the fee for incarcerating inmates in 2014 was $30,619 ($83.89 per day) (FR, 2016). That would be a good place to start. There must be enough people in prison that don’t need to be already. Instead of creating repeat offenders and putting low-criminals in with advanced-criminals, we need to start focusing on making better citizens and better police officers.

To close I will leave two ideas. The first is that of the Black Lives Matter group. One member had said after the Freddie Gray case that policing is a “profession that refuses attempts for accountability and justice” (Lartley, 2015b). This seems to be unfortunately true in cases that are appearing too frequently. The second is a story from my home state of Maine. Police in Bangor came across Russell. A homeless man with some interesting tattoos. Across his knuckles he had inscribed ‘Cops Suck’. But the police did not take offence. This cop knew his job well and had this to say. “Maybe the ink came at a time when Russell was having a problem with authority. We understand. We have all had a problem with authority at one time or another,” Bangor Police wrote. “Could we change the way Russell feels about law enforcement if we treat him with kindness and respect?” (Levenson, 2016). They even posed for a photo with him showing the tattoo after they kindly asked him to move from the spot that he was occupying. There are clearly good cops and hopefully they are the majority. But until their brothers in arms stop using their position to intimidate instead of protect no one will feel comfortable with any kind of increase in force. The city of Bangor is also trying to get an armored car and are seeing some backlash from citizens who don’t want more militarization. After researching this issue I would say that they should have it to protect our boys blue. But do not waste tax payer money on those sorts of things unless they are absolutely necessary. Spend money on training and education and perhaps we may see the end of the killer cops in America.

Bibliography

BPD (no date) Boston Police Department History. Available at: http://bpdnews.com/history/ (Accessed: 16 May 2016).

FR (2016) Annual determination of average cost of incarceration. Available at: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/03/09/2015-05437/annual-determination-of-average-cost-of-incarceration (Accessed: 25 May 2016).

NLEOMF (2004) ‘National law enforcement officers memorial fund: Officer deaths by year’. Available at: http://www.nleomf.org/facts/officer-fatalities-data/year.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/ (Accessed: 25 May 2016).

RAND (1997) OVERVIEW OF THE POSSE COMITATUS ACT. Available at: https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monograph_reports/MR1251/MR1251.AppD.pdf (Accessed: 16 May 2016).

Rasmussen (2015) If it’s in the news, it’s in our polls. Public opinion polling since 2003. Available at: http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/lifestyle/general_lifestyle/august_2015/58_think_there_s_a_war_on_police_in_america_today (Accessed: 25 May 2016).

ACLU (2011) The prison crisis. Available at: https://www.aclu.org/prison-crisis (Accessed: 16 May 2016).

Agorist, M. (2014) US court says it’s okay for police departments to refuse to hire someone who is too smart. Available at: http://thefreethoughtproject.com/court-police-departments-refuse-hire-smart/ (Accessed: 25 May 2016).

Balko, R. (2014) Internal documents show that Utah police did little investigation before fatal drug raid. Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2014/07/17/internal-documents-show-that-utah-police-did-little-investigation-before-fatal-drug-raid/ (Accessed: 25 May 2016).

BDN, T. (2016) It takes more than an armored vehicle to militarize a police department. Available at: http://bangordailynews.com/2016/05/05/opinion/editorials/it-takes-more-than-an-armored-vehicle-to-militarize-a-police-department/?utm_source=BDN+News+Updates&utm_campaign=42465d53bf-RSS_AFTERNOONUPDATE_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_715eed3192-42465d53bf-82593745&goal=0_715eed3192-42465d53bf-82593745 (Accessed: 17 May 2016).

Burton, L. (2014) WTO riots in Seattle: 15 years ago. Available at: http://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/WTO-riots-in-Seattle-15-years-ago-5915088.php (Accessed: 17 May 2016).

DeSilver, D. and Posts (2013) A minority of Americans own guns, but just how many is unclear. Available at: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/06/04/a-minority-of-americans-own-guns-but-just-how-many-is-unclear/ (Accessed: 17 May 2016).

Fulton, A. and Reaves, B. (2015) Bureau of justice statistics (BJS) – local police departments, 2013: Personnel, policies, and practices. Available at: http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=5279 (Accessed: 17 May 2016).

Greenhut, S. (2016) Boosting police transparency in California. Available at: http://reason.com/archives/2016/02/26/boosting-police-transparency-in-californ (Accessed: 25 May 2016).

Haberman, C. (2014) The rise of the SWAT team in American policing. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/08/us/the-rise-of-the-swat-team-in-american-policing.html?_r=0 (Accessed: 16 May 2016).

Johnson, K. (2015) Lack of training, standards mean big problems for small police departments. Available at: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/06/23/small-police-departments-standards-training/28823849/ (Accessed: 25 May 2016).

Krogstad, J.M. (2015) Gun homicides steady after decline in ’90s; Suicide rate edges up. Available at: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/10/21/gun-homicides-steady-after-decline-in-90s-suicide-rate-edges-up/ (Accessed: 25 May 2016).

Lartey, J. (2015a) 2015 may be one of the safest years for law enforcement in a quarter century. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/sep/04/police-deaths-2015-law-enforcement-safety (Accessed: 25 May 2016).

Lartey, J. (2015b) By the numbers: US police kill more in days than other countries do in years. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jun/09/the-counted-police-killings-us-vs-other-countries (Accessed: 25 May 2016).

Levenson, E. (2016) Bangor police enjoy a laugh with man bearing ‘cops suck’ tattoo. Available at: https://www.boston.com/news/local-news/2016/05/23/bangor-police-enjoy-laugh-man-bearing-cops-suck-tattoo (Accessed: 25 May 2016).

Malkin, M. (2014) A cop is killed every 58 hours. Available at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/385458/cop-killed-every-58-hours-michelle-malkin (Accessed: 24 May 2016).

Marbella, J. and Campbell, C. (2016) Response measured to not-guilty verdict in Nero case. Available at: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/freddie-gray/bs-md-ci-nero-reaction-20160523-story.html (Accessed: 25 May 2016).

McTiernan, J. (1988) Die hard. .

Montolio, D. and Planells-Struse, S. (2015) ‘Police patrol’, The Encyclopedia of Crime and Punishment, , pp. 1–4. doi: 10.1002/9781118519639.wbecpx195.

Owen, T. (2016) US prosecutors didn’t charge police officers in 96 percent of alleged civil rights violations in the past 20 years | VICE news. Available at: https://news.vice.com/article/prosecutors-didnt-charge-police-officers-in-96-percent-of-alleged-civil-rights-violations-in-the-past-20-years (Accessed: 25 May 2016).

PBS (2016) Armed in America: Police & guns. Available at: https://youtu.be/WTgZbHEh4oI (Accessed: 17 May 2016).

Pegues, C. (2016) Once a cop: The street, the law, Two worlds, One man. United States: Atria Books.

Reaves, B.A. (2015) Local police departments, 2013: Personnel, policies, and practices. Available at: http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/lpd13ppp.pdf (Accessed: 25 May 2016).

Regnery, A.S. (2013) SWAT teams save lives. Available at: http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2013/07/29/swat-teams-save-lives/ (Accessed: 24 May 2016).

Robbins, L. and Hamill, S.D. (2014) Gunman kills 3 police officers in Pittsburgh. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/05/us/05pittsburgh.html?_r=0 (Accessed: 24 May 2016).

Rushin, S. (2016) Using data to reduce police violence 57 Boston college law review 2016. Available at: http://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?handle=hein.journals/bclr57&div=5&id=&page= (Accessed: 25 May 2016).

Shapiro, I. and Meyer, R.J. (2015) Police Militarization leads to extreme constitutional violations. Available at: http://www.cato.org/blog/police-militarization-leads-extreme-constitutional-violations (Accessed: 25 May 2016).

Somashekhar, S. and Rich, S. (2016) Final tally: Police shot and killed 986 people in 2015. Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/final-tally-police-shot-and-killed-984-people-in-2015/2016/01/05/3ec7a404-b3c5-11e5-a76a-0b5145e8679a_story.html (Accessed: 25 May 2016).

Swaine, J., Ackerman, S. and Siddiqui, S. (2015) Ferguson forced to return Humvees as US military gear still flows to local police. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/aug/11/ferguson-protests-police-militarization-humvees (Accessed: 25 May 2016).

Taibbi, M. (2014) The divide: American injustice in the age of the wealth gap. United States: Random House Publishing Group.

Wofford, T. (2014) HOW AMERICA’S POLICE BECAME AN ARMY: THE 1033 PROGRAM. Available at: http://www.newsweek.com/how-americas-police-became-army-1033-program-264537 (Accessed: 16 May 2016).

Zimmerman, A. (2016) A veteran black cop talks police Militarization and the racial divisions still plaguing Ferguson | VICE | United States. Available at: http://www.vice.com/read/a-veteran-black-cop-talks-police-militarization-and-the-racial-divisions-still-plaguing-ferguson (Accessed: 17 May 2016).

Citations, Quotes & Annotations

BPD (no date) Boston Police Department History. Available at: http://bpdnews.com/history/ (Accessed: 16 May 2016).

(no date)

FR (2016) Annual determination of average cost of incarceration. Available at: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/03/09/2015-05437/annual-determination-of-average-cost-of-incarceration (Accessed: 25 May 2016).

(2016)

NLEOMF (2004) ‘National law enforcement officers memorial fund: Officer deaths by year’. Available at: http://www.nleomf.org/facts/officer-fatalities-data/year.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/ (Accessed: 25 May 2016).

(2004)

RAND (1997) OVERVIEW OF THE POSSE COMITATUS ACT. Available at: https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monograph_reports/MR1251/MR1251.AppD.pdf (Accessed: 16 May 2016).

(1997)

Rasmussen (2015) If it’s in the news, it’s in our polls. Public opinion polling since 2003. Available at: http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/lifestyle/general_lifestyle/august_2015/58_think_there_s_a_war_on_police_in_america_today (Accessed: 25 May 2016).

(2015)

ACLU (2011) The prison crisis. Available at: https://www.aclu.org/prison-crisis (Accessed: 16 May 2016).

(ACLU, 2011)

Agorist, M. (2014) US court says it’s okay for police departments to refuse to hire someone who is too smart. Available at: http://thefreethoughtproject.com/court-police-departments-refuse-hire-smart/ (Accessed: 25 May 2016).

(Agorist, 2014)

Balko, R. (2014) Internal documents show that Utah police did little investigation before fatal drug raid. Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2014/07/17/internal-documents-show-that-utah-police-did-little-investigation-before-fatal-drug-raid/ (Accessed: 25 May 2016).

(Balko, 2014)

BDN, T. (2016) It takes more than an armored vehicle to militarize a police department. Available at: http://bangordailynews.com/2016/05/05/opinion/editorials/it-takes-more-than-an-armored-vehicle-to-militarize-a-police-department/?utm_source=BDN+News+Updates&utm_campaign=42465d53bf-RSS_AFTERNOONUPDATE_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_715eed3192-42465d53bf-82593745&goal=0_715eed3192-42465d53bf-82593745 (Accessed: 17 May 2016).

(BDN, 2016)

Burton, L. (2014) WTO riots in Seattle: 15 years ago. Available at: http://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/WTO-riots-in-Seattle-15-years-ago-5915088.php (Accessed: 17 May 2016).

(Burton, 2014)

DeSilver, D. and Posts (2013) A minority of Americans own guns, but just how many is unclear. Available at: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/06/04/a-minority-of-americans-own-guns-but-just-how-many-is-unclear/ (Accessed: 17 May 2016).

(DeSilver and Posts, 2013)

Fulton, A. and Reaves, B. (2015) Bureau of justice statistics (BJS) – local police departments, 2013: Personnel, policies, and practices. Available at: http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=5279 (Accessed: 17 May 2016).

(Fulton and Reaves, 2015)

Greenhut, S. (2016) Boosting police transparency in California. Available at: http://reason.com/archives/2016/02/26/boosting-police-transparency-in-californ (Accessed: 25 May 2016).

(Greenhut, 2016)

Haberman, C. (2014) The rise of the SWAT team in American policing. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/08/us/the-rise-of-the-swat-team-in-american-policing.html?_r=0 (Accessed: 16 May 2016).

(Haberman, 2014)

Johnson, K. (2015) Lack of training, standards mean big problems for small police departments. Available at: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/06/23/small-police-departments-standards-training/28823849/ (Accessed: 25 May 2016).

(Johnson, 2015)

Krogstad, J.M. (2015) Gun homicides steady after decline in ’90s; Suicide rate edges up. Available at: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/10/21/gun-homicides-steady-after-decline-in-90s-suicide-rate-edges-up/ (Accessed: 25 May 2016).

(Krogstad, 2015)

Lartey, J. (2015a) 2015 may be one of the safest years for law enforcement in a quarter century. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/sep/04/police-deaths-2015-law-enforcement-safety (Accessed: 25 May 2016).

(Lartey, 2015a)

Lartey, J. (2015b) By the numbers: US police kill more in days than other countries do in years. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jun/09/the-counted-police-killings-us-vs-other-countries (Accessed: 25 May 2016).

(Lartey, 2015b)

Levenson, E. (2016) Bangor police enjoy a laugh with man bearing ‘cops suck’ tattoo. Available at: https://www.boston.com/news/local-news/2016/05/23/bangor-police-enjoy-laugh-man-bearing-cops-suck-tattoo (Accessed: 25 May 2016).

(Levenson, 2016)

Malkin, M. (2014) A cop is killed every 58 hours. Available at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/385458/cop-killed-every-58-hours-michelle-malkin (Accessed: 24 May 2016).

(Malkin, 2014)

Marbella, J. and Campbell, C. (2016) Response measured to not-guilty verdict in Nero case. Available at: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/freddie-gray/bs-md-ci-nero-reaction-20160523-story.html (Accessed: 25 May 2016).

(Marbella and Campbell, 2016)

McTiernan, J. (1988) Die hard. .

(McTiernan, 1988)

Montolio, D. and Planells-Struse, S. (2015) ‘Police patrol’, The Encyclopedia of Crime and Punishment, , pp. 1–4. doi: 10.1002/9781118519639.wbecpx195.

(Montolio and Planells-Struse, 2015)

Owen, T. (2016) US prosecutors didn’t charge police officers in 96 percent of alleged civil rights violations in the past 20 years | VICE news. Available at: https://news.vice.com/article/prosecutors-didnt-charge-police-officers-in-96-percent-of-alleged-civil-rights-violations-in-the-past-20-years (Accessed: 25 May 2016).

(Owen, 2016)

PBS (2016) Armed in America: Police & guns. Available at: https://youtu.be/WTgZbHEh4oI (Accessed: 17 May 2016).

(PBS, 2016)

Pegues, C. (2016) Once a cop: The street, the law, Two worlds, One man. United States: Atria Books.

(Pegues, 2016)

Reaves, B.A. (2015) Local police departments, 2013: Personnel, policies, and practices. Available at: http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/lpd13ppp.pdf (Accessed: 25 May 2016).

(Reaves, 2015)

Regnery, A.S. (2013) SWAT teams save lives. Available at: http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2013/07/29/swat-teams-save-lives/ (Accessed: 24 May 2016).

(Regnery, 2013)

Robbins, L. and Hamill, S.D. (2014) Gunman kills 3 police officers in Pittsburgh. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/05/us/05pittsburgh.html?_r=0 (Accessed: 24 May 2016).

(Robbins and Hamill, 2014)

Rushin, S. (2016) Using data to reduce police violence 57 Boston college law review 2016. Available at: http://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?handle=hein.journals/bclr57&div=5&id=&page= (Accessed: 25 May 2016).

(Rushin, 2016)

Shapiro, I. and Meyer, R.J. (2015) Police Militarization leads to extreme constitutional violations. Available at: http://www.cato.org/blog/police-militarization-leads-extreme-constitutional-violations (Accessed: 25 May 2016).

(Shapiro and Meyer, 2015)

Somashekhar, S. and Rich, S. (2016) Final tally: Police shot and killed 986 people in 2015. Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/final-tally-police-shot-and-killed-984-people-in-2015/2016/01/05/3ec7a404-b3c5-11e5-a76a-0b5145e8679a_story.html (Accessed: 25 May 2016).

(Somashekhar and Rich, 2016)

Swaine, J., Ackerman, S. and Siddiqui, S. (2015) Ferguson forced to return Humvees as US military gear still flows to local police. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/aug/11/ferguson-protests-police-militarization-humvees (Accessed: 25 May 2016).

(Swaine, Ackerman, and Siddiqui, 2015)

Taibbi, M. (2014) The divide: American injustice in the age of the wealth gap. United States: Random House Publishing Group.

(Taibbi, 2014)

Wofford, T. (2014) HOW AMERICA’S POLICE BECAME AN ARMY: THE 1033 PROGRAM. Available at: http://www.newsweek.com/how-americas-police-became-army-1033-program-264537 (Accessed: 16 May 2016).

(Wofford, 2014)

Zimmerman, A. (2016) A veteran black cop talks police Militarization and the racial divisions still plaguing Ferguson | VICE | United States. Available at: http://www.vice.com/read/a-veteran-black-cop-talks-police-militarization-and-the-racial-divisions-still-plaguing-ferguson (Accessed: 17 May 2016).

(Zimmerman, 2016)

Post-Tim Berners-Lee

Net Neutrality

It was on a leisurely stroll through Innsbruck that I was verbally assaulted and schooled on an early method of mass communication. While peering through window after window of interesting and foreign objects I stumbled across one that I cared to inquire about. When told it was a very old Gutenberg Printing Press my face scrunched up with the lack of familiarity with the name. My companion took it upon herself to point out that I should already know exactly who Johannes Gensfleisch Gutenberg was. While I attempted to save face by arguing that it shouldn’t matter what the name of the guy who invented the movable-type Printing Press was and that only the actual results of his invention should still matter, I was ashamed enough to never forget it. Thanks to him more books met more hands and so started a rejuvenation of culture and thought in Europe. His invention should never be forgotten. Especially when one considers that every modern tool human’s have come up with will eventually be abused by some jackass or another. Half a millennium later and another new method of spreading information has already arrived. People are learning things they might never have in the past and yet at the same time people seem just as uninformed as ever. Not to mention the army of scammers, identity thieves, and trolls abusing this great new information instrument. In Steven Harnad’s article Post-Gutenberg Galaxy he referred to this jump in media technology as the fourth revolution, the other three having been human language, writing, and the printing press (Harnad,1991).  This fourth revolution brought about an amazing era for the sharing of knowledge. However, it did not arrive without some challenges. In what could be called the Post-Berners-Lee Galaxy, cable companies in charge of providing internet services have recently tried to change the rules to the game in a brazing act of self-interest. The citizens of the internet responded with fervor, and although their response may be vague and boring to the average user, Net Neutrality has hopefully come to stay.

Net Neutrality is the idea that all information on the internet should be treated equally. This is basically how the internet has been functioning since Tim Berners-Lee’s invention first started connecting the corners of the world. At the beginning of this 21st century we have just passed over the threshold of this information sharing revolution. We are still feeling and figuring out how we are going to use this extraordinary tool that has been provided for us. This is where a number of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have come up with an idea that they think will be beneficial for users and competition in the market. The idea being that providers should be able to decide what information goes at what speeds. This is also where many users and citizens have had to step up and boldly state that this is not the way to improve the web and that all information should be received at the same speeds indiscriminately. These ISPs need to understand that while their hands may be on the tap of internet flow that tap exists because we decide not to tear down buildings and bridges and actually commit to a shared society. If there are any apprehensions to internet access not being a right, I suggest taking it up with the UN. The UN Human Rights Council recently passed a resolution for the “promotion, protection, and enjoyment of human rights on the internet”, condemning countries that disrupt access for citizens (Boyle, 2016).

A closer look at the actors in these broadband theatrics may help to better understand the disagreement. On the government side we have the current Obama administration and the Federal Communications Commission. It is the FCC that decides the rules and regulations for communications such as radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable. At the end of the day it is this commission that must keep the citizens’ best interests in mind when it comes to maintaining broadband competition. The commission is made of five commissioners appointed by the President for five-year terms. And although they are meant to have no financial interest in any FCC related business one of Obama’s more recent appointees, Tom Wheeler, used to lobby heavily for the telecommunications industry. So while the integrity of the institution may be in question, not every commission can be a perfect.

Next we have the users, the content creators, the people, the consumers, or as some may see them, the dupes. Since the world first started going online in the 1990s the United States reached 50% of the population online in 2001 and is now sitting around 84% of the population (Perrin and Diggan, 2015). Out of that 84% a healthy 2,551,849 individuals wrote comments to the FCC regarding the potential rule change to treat data differently (Sohn, 2016). While this may be a small portion of America’s 322,000,000 plus population it shows that this issue is at least not being completely ignored. Many people recognize the rising power of the internet in our Western society. Today trying to do anything without using the internet puts you at a significant disadvantage. Applying for jobs, going to school, staying up to date on any field of work, all these things become easier with access to the wealth of knowledge and information on the web. I offer applause to the people who still don’t have email; the John Henry Steel Driving men and women of the past trying to make do without new confangled machines. For those of us looking to continuing to log on I have only a sliver of awareness to offer in hopes that our newest and most crucial service will not be taken advantage of and turned into some invisible interconnecting racket.

Lastly we have the tech companies, content providers, internet providers, and non-profits on both sides of the argument. Internet providing services (ISPs) stood the most to gain in losing net neutral rules. These cable companies, like Comcast and Time Warner, pushed hard to change the rules and fix the internet to their liking. They wanted to create a two tier system and charge content providers, like Google, Facebook, and Netflix, for getting their services to consumers faster. This would eventually mean not just higher prices for them but also for users and consumers. It would also make it more difficult for new start-ups to pay for reliable service speeds for their potential customers, essentially ruining their chances to be competitive. ISPs argue that it will not be a fast lane and a slow lane but a fast lane for everyone and a super-fast lane for premium customers willing to pay more. The claim is that they want to provide faster internet speeds but many users as well as many content providing companies do not agree.

It is more beneficial to consumers to manage all content equally. Content should not be slowed down or hindered in anyway regardless of how much you are paying. Luckily, the FCC and the Washington DC appellate court decided that the internet should be treated as a utility without ISPs acting as gatekeepers and remaining neutral when controlling speeds (McKinnon and Kendall, 2016). The ruling was seen as a step in the right direction concerning internet policy by users, content providers, and even Tom Wheeler of the FCC; “Today’s ruling is a victory for consumers and innovators who deserve unfettered access to the entire web, and it ensures the internet remains a platform for unparalleled innovation, free expression and economic growth,” he said (Lillington, 2016).

While the net needs to remain neutral to allow smaller and new start-ups to be able to compete they are not the only ones in support of keeping the rule. Even larger companies see the need for this rule, including many Silicon Valley firms (Lillington,2016). This strange union between protestors and companies emphasizes the importance of keeping the internet neutral and fair. Even though Alphabet, Google’s parent company started in 2015, is a broadband provider itself with Google Fiber in five U.S. cities, it has been generally supportive of keeping net neutrality rules (McKinnon and Kendall, 2016). Besides Google, internet based companies like Microsoft, Facebook, Netflix, and Amazon joined citizen opposition to the attempted rule change. Since the first mentions of net neutrality in the early 2000 the anti-net neutral camp has greatly out-spent the pro-net neutral camp in the lobbying war over a change in rules (Winkie, 2014). The companies that spent the most against neutrality were the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications, and Comcast Corporation (Winkie, 2014). Comcast was also only beaten in amount of lobbying money spent by Northrop Grumman; the global aerospace and defense technology company.

Internet Service Providers may have the money but they do not have the people power. One of the ways they have tried to circumvent this problem is to put a spin on their actual goal to make it seem both boring and in consumer’s best interests. Their lame claim that everyone will still have fast internet and others with have a more expensive superfast internet falls flat on most people who have a basic understanding of the dilemma here. Thankfully some have realized that there should be no middlemen between the user and information. The problem is that we cannot trust these ISPs to not take advantage of internet speeds. Especially when they already run the market in a cartel type fashion. They openly admit that they (ISPs) stay out of each other’s territory essentially creating regional monopolies that destroy competition. Now Americans are paying more for slower internet speeds than many other countries around the world (Eadicicco, 2014).

Luckily there are alternatives. Some cities are opting to create their own municipal broadband service providers to compete with the larger more powerful private companies to get better speeds (Yi, 2015). However, the FCC ruling that the internet be treated as a utility is not set in stone and anti-net neutral companies may bring the case to the supreme court. We are not out of the water yet. To better prepare for the fallout of that decision it is important to take note of the successes and failures of the European Union’s net neutrality rules.

The EU adopted new net neutrality rules last year to treat internet traffic equally. However, creator of the world wide web, Tim Berners-Lee, has pointed out that the rules have many loopholes and weaknesses that ISPs could use to undermine net neutrality (Lillington, 2016). Apparently, although the rules have been put into place they include some relatively broad exceptions. For some time, the EU had no strict rules at all. In October 2015 they adopted the Connected Continent Regulation, but these new rules aimed at protecting an open internet and consumers may have fallen a bit short of the FCC’s decision in the U.S. (Wessing, 2016). BEREC is the Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communications and like the FCC acts to regulate the telecommunications market within the EU. BEREC has fortunately left room for feedback much like the FCC did when making its own decision on the issue. For many, simple feedback is not enough. An internet protest consisting of over 7000 websites, the Fight for the Future foundation, and other non-profits are worried the EU technocrats in BEREC won’t do enough or will leave loopholes open to exploit net neutrality (Dudau, 2016). These websites are demonstrating their opposition to weak laws by displaying a slow loading icon of the EU stars to signal their disapproval.

The strategy to be used here for going forward with an open internet is simple; vigilance. Tim Berners-Lee pointed out that the FCC ruling is important for consumer rights, free speech, and for using the internet as a platform for democracy (Jiang, 2016). If we are to have a free and open society a free and open internet will surely be necessary. The FCC has made sure that any rule change by future administrations would need to be accepted by a majority of the commissioners, open to a public comment period, followed by a comment period on those comments, and at least 3 out of 5 would have to accept the new rules (Reardon, 2015). Reardon goes into detail on some of the finer points of Net Neutrality and is worth a read if confusion persists on the issue.

To some the issue might seem trivial and it certainly is boring for many to just have to hear about it. However, it is one of the more crucial issues of our generation. And unfortunately the problem of countering what John Oliver aptly described as Cable Company Fuckery is far from over. Americans still pay more for slower speeds than many other countries. The ISPs that did not get their way this time around are still running their Mafioso type services all around the country. It is unfortunate that it has come down to ISPs acting without regard to consumer’s access to information. Elizabeth Warren came out recently saying that “… while big telecom giants have been consuming each other, consumers have been left out in the cold — facing little or no choice in service providers and paying through the nose for cable and internet service” (Bode, 2016). AT&T came out after the FCC decision and said it will continue to fight and will bring the issue to the Supreme Court now (Kang, 2016). While this has been seen as a win for consumers it is clearly just one fistfight in what is sure to become a street brawl for an open and free internet. Consumers and users are not out of the woods yet, as ISPs move to continue the fight. To move away from the reliance on these ISPs some cities have taken the ruling to heart the idea that the internet should be treated as a utility and not a luxury to be paid for. Chattanooga, Tennessee, Bristol, Virginia, Lafayette, Louisiana, Cedar Falls, Iowa, and Wilson, North Carolina have all moved toward a municipal broadband service to escape dependence on ISPs (Yi, 2015). Too many people have little to no idea how important this issue is. If the case is taken the Supreme Court, it will be up to consumers to remain vigilant and protect net neutrality, or we will be paying a hefty sum to glorified private librarians for the foreseeable future.

Keep the internet Fast, Affordable, Safe, and Transparent.

Dan Van Winkle July 15th, 2016

“When data usage is free on an app like Pokémon GO—or a set of services like Netflix, HBO, and Hulu—it’s effectively the same as charging extra to use literally any other site or service on the Internet. It gives preferential treatment to those popular services, while any competition that didn’t get in on the promotion is out of luck. Basically, T-Mobile offers unlimited data but charges extra if you’re not using something on a list of approved games or services. Think of it like gas stations offering a discount for using cash when they’re not allowed to charge extra to use credit—it’s a loophole used to do the same thing, plain and simple.”

Bibliography

Bode, K. (2016) Elizabeth Warren slams Comcast, wants more antitrust enforcement. Available at: http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/Elizabeth-Warren-Slams-Comcast-Wants-More-Antitrust-Enforcement-137333 (Accessed: 7 July 2016).

Boyle, E. (2016) UN declares online freedom to be a human right that must be protected. Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/un-declares-online-freedom-to-be-a-human-right-that-must-be-protected-a7120186.html (Accessed: 7 July 2016).

Dudau, V. (2016) 7000 EU websites are protesting net neutrality loopholes, with ‘EU slowdown’ campaign. Available at: https://www.neowin.net/news/7000-eu-websites-are-protesting-net-neutrality-loopholes-with-eu-slowdown-campaign (Accessed: 4 July 2016).

Eadicicco, L. (2014) 3 charts about Internet access that will make Americans embarrassed. Available at: http://www.businessinsider.com/internet-speeds-in-the-us-and-around-the-world-2014-5 (Accessed: 3 July 2016).

Harnad, S. (1991) Post-Gutenberg galaxy: The fourth revolution in the means of production of knowledge. Available at: http://cogprints.org/1580/1/harnad91.postgutenberg.html (Accessed: 21 June 2016).

Jiang, J. (2015) Transcript: World wide web inventor sir Tim Berners-Lee’s remarks at the FCC net neutrality hearing. Available at: http://www.whatthefolly.com/2015/02/26/transcript-world-wide-web-inventor-sir-tim-berners-lees-remarks-at-the-fcc-net-neutrality-hearing/ (Accessed: 4 July 2016).

Kang, C. (2016) Court backs rules treating Internet as utility, not luxury. Available at: http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/06/15/technology/net-neutrality-fcc-appeals-court-ruling.html (Accessed: 4 July 2016).

Lillington, K. (2016) Europe needs to keep up with US on net neutrality issue. Available at: http://www.irishtimes.com/business/technology/europe-needs-to-keep-up-with-us-on-net-neutrality-issue-1.2686055 (Accessed: 22 June 2016).

McKinnon, J.D. and Kendall, B. (2016) FCC’s net-neutrality rules upheld by appeals court. Available at: http://www.wsj.com/articles/fcc-net-neutrality-rules-upheld-by-appeals-court-1465914663 (Accessed: 22 June 2016).

Perrin, A. and Duggan, M. (2015) Americans’ Internet access:<br>2000-2015. Available at: http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/06/26/americans-internet-access-2000-2015/ (Accessed: 21 June 2016).

Reardon, M. (2015) 13 things you need to know about the FCC’s net neutrality regulation. Available at: http://www.cnet.com/news/13-things-you-need-to-know-about-the-fccs-net-neutrality-regulation/ (Accessed: 4 July 2016).

Sohn, G.B. (2016) FCC releases open Internet reply comments to the public. Available at: https://www.fcc.gov/news-events/blog/2014/10/22/fcc-releases-open-internet-reply-comments-public (Accessed: 21 June 2016).

Wessing, T. (2016) First EU-wide net neutrality rules set to come into effect. Available at: http://united-kingdom.taylorwessing.com/en/first-eu-wide-net-neutrality-rules-set-to-come-into-effect (Accessed: 4 July 2016).

Winkie, L. (2014) Who lobbies on net neutrality? Available at: http://www.dailydot.com/layer8/lobbyists-net-neutrality-fcc/ (Accessed: 3 July 2016).

Yi, H. (2015) This is how Internet speed and price in the U.S. Compares to the rest of the world. Available at: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/internet-u-s-compare-globally-hint-slower-expensive/ (Accessed: 3 July 2016).

Citations, Quotes & Annotations

Bode, K. (2016) Elizabeth Warren slams Comcast, wants more antitrust enforcement. Available at: http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/Elizabeth-Warren-Slams-Comcast-Wants-More-Antitrust-Enforcement-137333 (Accessed: 7 July 2016).

(Bode, 2016)

Boyle, E. (2016) UN declares online freedom to be a human right that must be protected. Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/un-declares-online-freedom-to-be-a-human-right-that-must-be-protected-a7120186.html (Accessed: 7 July 2016).

(Boyle, 2016)

Dudau, V. (2016) 7000 EU websites are protesting net neutrality loopholes, with ‘EU slowdown’ campaign. Available at: https://www.neowin.net/news/7000-eu-websites-are-protesting-net-neutrality-loopholes-with-eu-slowdown-campaign (Accessed: 4 July 2016).

(Dudau, 2016)

Eadicicco, L. (2014) 3 charts about Internet access that will make Americans embarrassed. Available at: http://www.businessinsider.com/internet-speeds-in-the-us-and-around-the-world-2014-5 (Accessed: 3 July 2016).

(Eadicicco, 2014)

Harnad, S. (1991) Post-Gutenberg galaxy: The fourth revolution in the means of production of knowledge. Available at: http://cogprints.org/1580/1/harnad91.postgutenberg.html (Accessed: 21 June 2016).

(Harnad, 1991)

Jiang, J. (2015) Transcript: World wide web inventor sir Tim Berners-Lee’s remarks at the FCC net neutrality hearing. Available at: http://www.whatthefolly.com/2015/02/26/transcript-world-wide-web-inventor-sir-tim-berners-lees-remarks-at-the-fcc-net-neutrality-hearing/ (Accessed: 4 July 2016).

(Jiang, 2015)

Kang, C. (2016) Court backs rules treating Internet as utility, not luxury. Available at: http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/06/15/technology/net-neutrality-fcc-appeals-court-ruling.html (Accessed: 4 July 2016).

(Kang, 2016)

Lillington, K. (2016) Europe needs to keep up with US on net neutrality issue. Available at: http://www.irishtimes.com/business/technology/europe-needs-to-keep-up-with-us-on-net-neutrality-issue-1.2686055 (Accessed: 22 June 2016).

(Lillington, 2016)

McKinnon, J.D. and Kendall, B. (2016) FCC’s net-neutrality rules upheld by appeals court. Available at: http://www.wsj.com/articles/fcc-net-neutrality-rules-upheld-by-appeals-court-1465914663 (Accessed: 22 June 2016).

(McKinnon and Kendall, 2016)

Perrin, A. and Duggan, M. (2015) Americans’ Internet access:<br>2000-2015. Available at: http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/06/26/americans-internet-access-2000-2015/ (Accessed: 21 June 2016).

(Perrin and Duggan, 2015)

Reardon, M. (2015) 13 things you need to know about the FCC’s net neutrality regulation. Available at: http://www.cnet.com/news/13-things-you-need-to-know-about-the-fccs-net-neutrality-regulation/ (Accessed: 4 July 2016).

(Reardon, 2015)

Sohn, G.B. (2016) FCC releases open Internet reply comments to the public. Available at: https://www.fcc.gov/news-events/blog/2014/10/22/fcc-releases-open-internet-reply-comments-public (Accessed: 21 June 2016).

(Sohn, 2016)

Wessing, T. (2016) First EU-wide net neutrality rules set to come into effect. Available at: http://united-kingdom.taylorwessing.com/en/first-eu-wide-net-neutrality-rules-set-to-come-into-effect (Accessed: 4 July 2016).

(Wessing, 2016)

Winkie, L. (2014) Who lobbies on net neutrality? Available at: http://www.dailydot.com/layer8/lobbyists-net-neutrality-fcc/ (Accessed: 3 July 2016).

(Winkie, 2014)

Yi, H. (2015) This is how Internet speed and price in the U.S. Compares to the rest of the world. Available at: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/internet-u-s-compare-globally-hint-slower-expensive/ (Accessed: 3 July 2016).

(Yi, 2015)