The Internet Is Optional: “Nobody’s got to use the internet.”

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (YouTube).

By golly, a representative of the Party of Very Old White Men has declared that the internet is optional! You don’t need that silly web thingy, no sir! The distance between these willfully ignorant, very old white men and reality continues to widen. They seem to think that you really don’t need net access at all, outside of email or finding delicious porn, so if you don’t like the stripping of privacy rights, well, you can go without.

In a town hall appearance held on Thursday, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis. defended his decision to vote to repeal the Broadband Consumer Privacy Rules passed by the FCC last October by arguing that “nobody’s got to use the internet.”

When a constituent attending the event in Wisconsin’s fifth district raised the issue that she has only one ISP available in her neighborhood and now has little recourse to protect her personal information from her internet provider, Sensenbrenner responded:

“You know, nobody’s got to use the internet….I don’t think it’s my job to tell you that you cannot get advertising through your information being sold. My job, I think, is to tell you that you have the opportunity to do it and then you take it upon yourself to make the choice.”

The congressman’s press office doubled down on this, responding to a tweet claiming Sensenbrenner said “not to use the internet” by stating, “Actually, he said that nobody has to use the internet. They have a choice.”

Sensenbrenner’s view contrasts with that of the United Nations, which has labeled internet access a basic human right, and with most trends that see more and more reliance on internet access to partake in other basic tasks, from completing school work to searching for employment.

As people in the tweet streams pointed out, people don’t have to use indoor plumbing, cars, electricity, or many other nifty modern things, but that would make life very difficult, and messy. Change happens, and if you’re a dinosaur who wants to sit in their swamp and sulk, have at it, but you should not be in position to legislate what other people can or cannot do, or what they can or cannot have. It’s damn near impossible to do anything without net access anymore, and someone who was in touch with reality would be aware of that one.

And no, I’m not going to apologize for being ageist. I am sick to death of old white men who think they rule the world, and how they see things is how it is. I’m hardly young myself, and I know not all older people are unrepentant dumbfucks, many of them are grand, ferociously intelligent people. Unfortunately, we seem to be short on them in what passes for U.S. government. I do want younger people in government. I want people who are not set in concrete and stuck in the 1950s. I also want lots of women and people of colour in government. It’s a dream.

Via Raw Story.


  1. kestrel says

    Well! And it would be so much more convenient for such old white men if people stayed off the internet, because if they were on the internet, they might, like, learn stuff. You know, like facts, and things. And we certainly can’t have that, now, can we? /sarcasm

    What an oblivious jerk.

  2. says

    So don’t apologize. But as an “old white man” who couldn’t live without the internet, I do wish you had worded it as “I am sick to death of the old white men who think they rule the world …”

    Instead of lumping all “old white men” together, the above wording identifies (as a group) the specific “old white men” who make you sick.

    Other than that nitpick, I’m in complete agreement.

  3. says


    I do wish you had worded it as “I am sick to death of the old white men who think they rule the world …”

    The post has now been edited to that specific phrasing. Thanks.

  4. says


    Holy fuck, I’d lose my position for not handing in shit if I didn’t use the internet.

    Exactly, and that’s the case for a majority of people anymore, regardless of age -- in one way or another, the internet is vital to everyday life. Someone on one of the tweet streams noted that in their state, it was impossible to get tax forms without going on the ‘net. So, if the govt wants their money, net access is necessary.

  5. says

    Internet is no longer optional in modern society. I’d say it is more important to have an internet access than to have driver’s licence.

  6. says

    Has he called the Internet a “series of tubes” yet?

    Other aspects of American infrastructure that are ‘optional’:
    roads, electricity, and cell towers.

  7. johnson catman says

    I will second Giliell’s thought at #4: Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, old white man, and his staff and his extended family should be prohibited from using the internet. Let’s see how long before they find out that it is necessary.

  8. says

    Apparently, he didn’t suffer irony poisoning over his having a twitter account and stuff, or his staff using it to double down on the “hey, optional, it’s a choice!” business.

  9. Saad says

    Not only is it not optional, it also needs to be subsidized for people who can’t afford it so more and more people can be connected and improve their quality of life.

  10. says

    Someone on the tweet stream noted:

    Jim’s a bit out of touch with reality and our workforce; also been in congress since 1979. He’s the poster boy for why we need term limits!

    Jesus Christ. Yes, we do need term limits, desperately so. I got married in ’79, and while 38 years is fine for a relationship, no one should ever be allowed in congress for that length of time.

  11. says

    I wish the Internet was optional.

    Proprietary technology just creates single points of failure, and we are getting too dependent on it.

    Uning the internet for fun is one thing, but having to depend on it for essential day-to-day stuff is another thing altogether. Too much would just stop working without it, and that is a problem..

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