Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Mr. O'Reilly cries "Go up, Baldhead!"

Noted in passing: Fox News boffin Bill O'Reilly slams the excesses of the evil Internet in his latest column. The Internet, starting with Lileks and Instapundit says, "It's clobberin' time!".

This is a bad idea. I'm reminded of a story about the Biblical prophet Elisha. Some kids from Bethel made fun of his lack of hair. ("Go up, baldhead!" in the New American Bible. 2 Kings, Chapter 2). Elisha cursed the kids and they were promptly mauled by two bears. Baiting the Internet, I would argue, is a similarly bad idea.

I am surprised, though, that a jouurnalist should call for regulation of the Internet. I'm sure that it's easy for Mr. O'Reilly to write that there should be crackdowns on the Internet, when you have an overtly conservative news network willing to hire him as a columnist and program host. As someone who believes that conservatives don't get a fair shake in the mainstream media, shouldn't Mr. O'Reilly be calling for a thousand conservative weblogs and websites to bloom?

One nice thing about the Internet is that it's self-publishing aspect allows the ideologicially devoted or somehow silenced to publish for no pay, if they are willing to go that route. Think, obviously, of Salaam Pax.

This not a right-left issue. Think of democracy advocates in Iran. It probably would now be very hard for communists or Maoists to start newspapers in many countries, so let's welcome them to the Internet in the meantime.