This Sunday night, comedian extraordinaire John Oliver did what no one—ourselves included— has been able to do: He made people care about Net Neutrality. Not just that, he also got people to engage with the Federal Communications Commission.
In a mindblowingly entertaining and engaging 13-minute segment, Oliver delivered a no-B.S. straight talk soliloquy about arguably the biggest and most important free speech issue of our time. The whole clip is worth watching because a) he explains exactly what Net Neutrality is, b) why people should care, and c) what's truly at stake, all while making you laugh.
Case in point: in response to George Foote, a telecommunications lawyer who said that the new regulations weren't going to create a "slow lane," but instead "a fast lane for everybody, and a hyperspeed lane for others," Oliver responded with the following:
“If we let cable companies offer two speeds of service they won’t be Usain Bolt, and Usain Bolt on a motorbike,” he said. “There will be Usain Bolt, and Usain bolted to an anchor.”
Go ahead. Take a few and check it out:
"For once in your lives, focus your indiscriminate rage in a useful direction. Seize your moment, my lovely trolls!" Oliver screamed at the camera.
The result? Within 24 hours of airing on HBO, it seems like his call to action for people to comment on the FCC website actually SHUT DOWN the FCC site. And last night, the FCC made a big mistake and actually tweeted this to the public. The Internet, of course, took it from there.
So, with this simple experiment we have learned that the FCC can't handle the traffic. 300,000 emails have been sent to a special inbox the commission set up strictly for comments on Open Internet issues. Add that to more than 45,000 traditional comments they have gotten on the issue since late April.
For comparison, the next highest number of formal comments on an FCC measure is just under 2,000, according to NPR.
Thank you, John Oliver. Even if you're not from this country, you're a true patriot. America thanks you.
Daniel Rivero is a producer/reporter for Fusion who focuses on police and justice issues. He also skateboards, does a bunch of arts related things on his off time, and likes Cuban coffee.