September 06, 2010

New "Shark" AT&T Ad and Bizarre Blog Posting Attempt to Ridicule Net Neutrality

Greetings. Very recently in Free Press, Lauren Weinstein, Google, and Net Neutrality and The New McCarthyism of Google-Baiting Spreads Its Stain, I expressed strong condemnation of particular tactics being used by certain groups both in support of Net Neutrality (a cause that I myself very much support) and to unfairly target and attack Google.

Unfortunately, obnoxious attempts to ridicule opponents are not limited to any one side in these debates.

Case in point, a new AT&T display ad that I saw today at The Hill, which attempts to use "religious" connotations to attack aspects of Net Neutrality arguments.

Primarily consisting of the text Has the net neutrality dogma jumped the shark? -- the ad links to a 31 August posting on the AT&T Public Policy Blog titled, The Danger of Dogma.

The term "Jump the Shark" -- in case you're not familiar with it -- relates to a particular episode of the old TV show Happy Days in which one of the main characters ("Fonz") performs a water ski jump over a confined shark. So "jump the shark" now generally refers to a point in a television series (or anything else) where something particularly "ridiculous" occurs that marks the downward trajectory in the quality of the series (or whatever) itself.

But the bizarre nature of the AT&T blog item in question -- whose author apparently thought it was "oh so cute" to invoke religious imagery (of all things!) to try make their point, suggests that sharks are being jumped at AT&T as well.

Particularly noteworthy is the "dogma" posting's multiple usages of the term "CoENN" -- which AT&T defines as Church of Extreme Net Neutrality. As it happens, I'm not a religious person, but I still find such usage, not once but over and over again, to be ingratiating, rather demeaning, and really not funny at all.

In fact, the continued invoking of "CoENN" by the post's author, as if it were an everyday acronym, tended to significantly detract from the technical and policy points that AT&T presumably had actually wished to make.

AT&T's attempt to combine a serious discussion with repeated Church of Extreme Net Neutrality references can only then be seen as primarily an effort to ridicule, rather than actually provide a straightforward and serious analysis of policy issues.

This seems overall to be beneath the standards that AT&T and its shareholders would presumably wish to uphold, and -- come to think of it -- suggests that rather than just jumping the shark, AT&T in this case appears to be diminishing its own credibility by jumping over Moby Dick himself.


Posted by Lauren at September 6, 2010 06:32 PM | Permalink
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