The National Rifle Association (NRA) gave Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai its Charlton Heston Courage Under Fire award at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Friday.
American Conservative Union (ACU) Executive Director Dan Schneider told Pai, “Ajit Pai, as you probably know, saved the Internet.”
Schneider charged, “As soon as President Trump came into office, President Trump asked Ajit Pai to liberate the Internet and give it back to you. Ajit Pai is the most courageous, heroic person that I know.”
Chairman Pai, along with his fellow Republican commissioners Michael O’Reilly and Brendan Carr, voted to repeal the agency’s 2015 net neutrality order.
The agency’s net neutrality order regulated the Internet as a public monopoly. Net neutrality proponents argued that the FCC needs net neutrality to prevent ISPs from unfairly blocking, throttling, or preferring some content, while conservatives argued that net neutrality would diminish the freedom of the Internet.
The FCC’s Restoring Internet Freedom Order and Breitbart News’s Allum Bokhari argued that, under net neutrality, content providers such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter have censored the Internet, stifled conservative and alternative voices, and served as a greater threat to free speech compared to ISPs.
NRA board member Carolyn Meadows remarked that they only grant someone the award “when someone has stood up under pressure with grace and dignity and principled discipline.”
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Ajit Pai faced serious death threats during the last year for the agency’s decision to repeal its 2015 net neutrality order. In November 2017, the Washington Post reported on signs that were posted near Pai’s house, which read, “They will come to know the truth. Dad murdered Democracy in cold blood.”
Pai also had to cancel his appearance at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January due to death threats.
Previous winners include Rush Limbaugh, Phyllis Schlafly, Vice President Mike Pence, Roy Innis, and Sheriff David Clark. Winners receive a handmade long gun; the long gun will be housed in the NRA museum until Pai can receive it.
“We are honored to have you as part of this distinguished pantheon,” Meadows told Pai.
“Thank you, ma’am, I really appreciate it,” the FCC chairman replied.