Tag Archives: protest

Not to Beat a Dead Horse, But…

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Hello, friends. No, this is not the World speaking, but Miss R. Rambler speaking in italics. Due to an extreme lack of sleep over the first three days of the week, I went to bed early and slept in late this morning in order to get seven hours of sleep. In other words, I used my blogging time to sleep. Forgive me, but it had to happen—it was either that or collapse from exhaustion and end up taking a nap in my lunchtime salad. So in order to avoid snorting ranch dressing, I gave up today’s official article writing time last night.

Today’s article comes courtesy of my father, Papa Rambler, a frustrated debater and essayist who has a knack for explaining things that otherwise would make no sense. He’s my hero and one of my biggest fans—which works out pretty well, considering I’m one of his.

He left this beautiful explanation of SOPA/PIPA in the comments to yesterday’s post, just like I hoped he would. After I read his reply, I immediately blacked out my site (even though I know I said I probably wouldn’t), because suddenly I found myself wanting to rally around the cause for free speech. For those of you who were wondering what all the fuss was about yesterday, I hope that this explanation will make this clearer:

Tyranny reigns within the heart of everyone, desiring to squelch others’ liberties in order to acquire yet more power, prestige, position, and privilege. Often this tyranny is couched in subtle and disingenuous terms in order to disarm those who might otherwise resist such flagrant arrogations and usurpations.

The mouthpieces for the multi-billion dollar entertainment industry, among the most prominent of those supporting the currently proposed SOPA and PIPA bills, are masterful at such appeals. Consider, for example, the following:

“More than 2.2 million hard-working, middle-class people in all 50 states depend on the entertainment industry for their jobs and many millions more work in other industries that rely on intellectual property,” Michael O’Leary of the Motion Picture Association of America said in a statement. “For all these workers and their families, online content and counterfeiting by these foreign sites mean declining incomes, lost jobs and reduced health and retirement benefits.”

Oh, what a champion of the Little Guy! What a big heart! What compassion!

What a fraud.

That number–2.2 million–represents approximately 7/10 of 1% of total U.S. population–hardly a significant number. So these besotted power-brokers in the entertainment industry want to use the power of the federal government to shut down broad swaths of the internet–a medium they despise, if the truth be told–on the pretense that they are suffering loss by copyright violation.

Seen another way, the one percent (see above) wants the federal government to punish the 99%. Hmmmm.

Additionally, the supposed sympathy of the Lords of the Entertainment industry smacks of hypocrisy. They have for decades assailed any and all technology that threatens their money stream, from videocassette recorders to compact disk burners. They simply cannot keep up with technology–that is the beauty of freedom. Innovation thrives in the lives and minds of a free people. But those who relish a static world that never challenges their status quo hate such innovations. Whip makers and carriage builders did not welcome the automobile with open arms!

The intent of both SOPA and PIPA, like so many other supposedly high-minded bits of legislation, is to provide the government yet one more tool to stifle individual liberty and to increase the scope of its leviathan-like reach into every facet of the public’s life. Tyrants despise liberty. They want control. And they will stop at nothing to ensure that control. Our founders established a constitutional order designed to exalt the individual and individual liberties (inalienable rights), clearly delineated in the Bill of Rights, and intended to keep the wretched heart of tyrants locked behind the supreme law of the land with its separation of powers and limitations by checks placed by the several states.

Jefferson rightly understood this principal when he wrote, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

While I am not yet ready to join the madding crowd marching in the streets, I enjoin all fellow citizens not to fall prey to the subtle arguments being offered by supporters of these two bills. The bills are not necessary (we have laws that allow the pursuit and prosecution of copyright violators); they are not prudent (they cede too much power to too few persons); and they are not in the best interest of individual liberty. While I rarely join in with groups I don’t know, when Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia), Tumblr (the micro blogger site) and a host of other heavy-hitters in the information world howl in protest on the basis of fundamental liberties, I have to stand and heed–for with Patrick Henry, I too prefer liberty to life. As one of these folks wrote, “If you want an Internet where human rights, free speech and the rule of law are not subordinated to the entertainment industry’s profits, I hope you’ll join us,” (Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing).

In any free society, it is far preferable that a million guilty persons walk free than that one innocent one should be incarcerated. SOPA and PIPA turn that principle on its head by creating a framework to act at the behest of a few well-connected persons to the detriment of the broader society.

These bills must not become law.

 

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Protesting for the Sake of Protesting

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When TIME named The Protestor as the person of the year, they made the shrewdest call I’ve ever seen in the publishing industry.

Just yesterday I found out about the SOPA/PIPA protests and how the internet—yes, the internet—is fighting against a well-intentioned, but nearsighted and clumsy bill that could lead to unintended side-effects down the road.

I’ve read about SOPA. I don’t understand all of it. I won’t pretend to know a great deal about things I don’t get—I’m no liberal. But from what I can understand, it’s an attempt to smack down on piracy that could eventually result in systematic shut-downs of some of the internet’s most notable pillars, even the almighty Google.

So sites like Wikipedia and WordPress are blacking out, putting up black screens of protest with a brief, bold explanation of why they don’t want this bill to pass. Eventually, they say, this bill could be used by internet competitors to blacklist and eliminate sites that pose a threat—whether the sites are connected to illegal activity or not. SOPA and PIPA, though created to protect copyright holders, could turn around and bite us one day.

Being the paranoid soul that I am, I’m envisioning a day when people like me—Christian and outspoken about it—will no longer be allowed to express our faith online without being censored. Give today’s government an inch, and they will slowly take a mile.

As I said, I do not pretend to fully understand the implications of this bill. I don’t want to defend piracy or other illegal ventures on the internet. But there are other ways to fight the problem without opening the door to a mass slaying of the sites of independent thinkers.

All that to say: that is why there is a black ribbon in the upper right hand corner of my blog. That ribbon is there because, from what I have read, I believe the SOPA/PIPA bills are a waste of time and energy, and that the problem they are intended to solve could be taken care of some other way. Because I do not know all I would like to know about the bills, I will not be participating in the blackout. I don’t want to be accused of protesting for the sake of protesting. But I do want to encourage my readers to read, to think, and to do all they can as citizens of America to protect the freedom of speech that their ancestors died to protect.

That said, I’m sure my father will leave an adequate description and explanation of the bill and its ramifications in the comments. So scroll down if you want a more enlightened perspective.