Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai joined a "distinguished pantheon" of winners this week when the National Rifle Association awarded him the Charlton Heston Courage Under Fire Award for saving the internet.
Pai was about to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland when the award presentation seemed to catch him by surprise. The award is a handmade long gun that could not be brought on stage, so it will be housed in the NRA museum until Pai can receive it.
"Ajit Pai, as you probably already know, saved the Internet," American Conservative Union (ACU) Executive Director Dan Schneider told the audience. The ACU is the host of CPAC; Schneider made a few more remarks praising Pai before handing the award presentation over to NRA board member Carolyn Meadows.
Claiming that Pai "fought to preserve your free speech rights", Schneider said the chairman liberated the internet and returned it to the people under President Donald Trump.
The signature achievement that helped Pai win the NRA courage award came in December when the FCC voted to eliminate net neutrality rules. The rules, which are technically still on the booksfor a while longer, prohibited Internet service providers from blocking and throttling lawful Internet traffic and from charging online services for prioritization.
Schneider did not explain how eliminating net neutrality rules preserved anyone's "free speech rights."
The "distinguished pantheon" Pai became a part of includes former winners Rush Limbaugh, Phyllis Schlafly, Vice President Mike Pence, Roy Innis, and Sheriff David Clarke.