Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said his family has been harassed by proponents of net neutrality after the chairman announced last week the commission will vote next month to repeal the Obama-era rules.
Supporters of the net neutrality rules have put cardboard signs outside of Pai’s Virginia home criticizing him for his plan to roll back net neutrality rules. Some of the signs appear to target Pai’s children.
“They will come to know the truth. Dad murdered democracy in cold blood,” one sign read. “And for what?! It’s not too late for you, Chairman Pai. You don’t have to be evil!”
“Is this really the world you want Annabelle and Alexander to inherit?” a second sign said. “How will they ever look you in the eye again?”
Woke up to these signs outside my parents door this Thanksgiving weekend (they live down the street from @AjitPaiFCC).This is way, way, way too much. pic.twitter.com/qfYVvuB56g— Ariel Cohen (@ArielCohen37) November 25, 2017
In an interview with Fox News on Monday, Pai called on those who disagree with his plan to repeal the net neutrality rules to leave his family alone.
“I understand that people are passionate about policy, but the one thing in America that should remain sacred is that families, wives, and kids, should remain out of it,” he said. “And stop harassing us at our homes.”
Pai said it was “a little nerve-racking,” particularly for his wife, to see signs with his children’s names, and said the harassment they’ve encountered is due in part to misinformation related to his plan to roll back net neutrality rules.
“That's one of the things I think is very unfortunate about all the vitriol and hot air that's out there is that if you keep going out there and peddling this misinformation like, 'This is the guy who is going to break the Internet and destroy democracy,' it's not surprising that some people get alarmed by it," he said.
In a subsequent statement, the FCC chairman said proponents of net neutrality have “crossed the line.”
“Internet regulation activists have crossed the line by threatening and harassing my family,” Pai said. “They should leave my family out of this and focus on debating the merits of this issue.”
Pai’s fellow FCC commissioners have come to the chairman’s defense, despite their opposition to his proposal to roll back net neutrality rules.
“Unacceptable. Under any circumstances,” FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat who supports net neutrality, tweeted Tuesday.
Michael Copps, a former Democratic FCC commissioner who also supports net neutrality, also came to Pai’s defense.
“.@ajitpaifcc and I have our differences but anyone who uses hate speech against him is no ally of mine. Racism and xenophobia are never in the public interest. #netneutrality means inclusion and bringing everyone - regardless of tradition creed or station in life - to the table,” he tweeted.
.@ajitpaifcc and I have our differences but anyone who uses hate speech against him is no ally of mine. Racism and xenophobia are never in the public interest. #netneutrality means inclusion and bringing everyone - regardless of tradition creed or station in life - to the table.— Michael Copps (@coppsm) November 25, 2017
Pai announced last week the FCC will vote Dec. 14 to roll back net neutrality rules, which are designed to ensure Internet service providers treat all web content equally by preventing providers from slowing, blocking, or interfering with traffic from different websites and services.