Pai, Others Call Out Hateful Protestors

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has told Fox & Friends that net neutrality protestors have "crossed a line" with hateful signs that target his children.

Fox News reported Monday (Nov. 27) about the protests outside Pai's home. That comes after Pai last week circulated an order to reclassify ISPs out from under common carrier mandatory access regs and eliminate most of the bright-line network neutrality rules.

“It certainly crosses a line with me,” Pai told “Fox & Friends," “Families…should remain out of it and stop harassing us at our homes....It was a little nerve-racking, especially for my wife who’s not involved in this space.”

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler also had protestors outside his home before he switched to a Title II approach to net neutrality rules--the approach Pai is rolling back--but they were not threatening, and Wheeler even spoke with them and posed for a photo at one point.

According to a Tweet from a neighbor cited in the Fox story, signs posted on the street outside his home included ones naming Pai's children and saying he was "murdering Democracy in cold blood," and asking how his kids could look him in the eye.

Because people are truthering the (much less serious) pizza issue -- a neighbor of Pai tells me it was actually every 15 minutes, but isn't sure whether Pai or the police told him so. Yes, the police are visiting neighbors.

— Brendan Bordelon (@BrendanBordelon) November 25, 2017

Pai Chief of Staff Matthew Berry has also been re-Tweeting--by way of condemning them--ome of the hateful and even racist messages aimed at Pai and his family from opponents of his proposal, including one that said he should get cancer and his family should be executed so they could not pass his genes on.

Former FCC Chairman Mike Copps, now a special advisor to Common Cause, is one of the strongest critics of Pai's proposal, but he told B&C, as he Tweeted over the weekend, that there is not place for such hateful speech in the discussion and that anyone who uses it against the current chairman is no ally of his.

He added that when he was on the commission he was concerned about hate speech and would like to see more done to rein it in, adding that given how much uncivil dialog is going on these days, the problem should be a little more obvious.

Fred Campbell, president of Tech Knowledge, which backs Pai's Title II rollback, stood up for the chairman and against the protests.

“The repeated racist attacks against FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and his family in their own home during the holiday weekend are horrific," he said. "The perpetrators of this villainy should be ashamed. These attacks aren’t net neutrality advocacy. They are terrorism.”

Free Press President Craig Aaron distanced his group, which is strongly opposed to the Title II rollback, condemned the tenor and tactics.

#NetNeutrality reminder from Free Press President & CEO Craig Aaron (@notaaroncraig)—

— Free Press Action (@freepressaction) November 25, 2017

"We don't condone this type of harassment. We believe in rigorous public debate," said Evan Greer, campaign director at Fight for the Future, which called for protests of the pending vote to roll back Title II. "People who care about this issue should be channeling their anger productively, and calling on their lawmakers to take action to stop the FCC vote. "

Protestors also took to Pai's street back in May after the FCC voted to propose the Title II rollback, but the the tone of the newest protests had an uglier edge.

Related: Demand Progress Plans Net Neutrality Protests at Verizon Stores

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.