I’ll begin with a quote today:
“The greatest tyrannies are always perpetrated in the name of the noblest causes.” –Thomas Paine
I spoke of SOPA in yesterday’s post, and this quote is certainly relevant. I do not think our congressmen have ill intentions per se (although I do think they are dazzled and stupefied by lobby money), rather that they do not truly understand the internet the way many younger folks do. The bill claims to protect the intellectual property rights of big entertainment businesses by taking down any site which infringes on copywrite laws. But the language is loose enough to take down YouTube if you and your girlfriend sing along with Katy Perry on karaoke night and your friend posts a video of it. It is even loose enough to take down both Facebook and YouTube if one is to post a link of this video on their wall! This is where the problem lies. It gives the government more power than it ought to have. It provides no protection of rights whatsoever for citizens. It only fuels corporatism (not capitalism!), and also allows the government to hide injustices it commits. For example, all those protest movement videos you see where U.S. citizens are denied their freedom of speech by U.S. police in riot gear, could be banned if there is a single Coca-Cola sign in the background. I’ve sent many congressmen a letter saying, “I’d rather have my freedom of speech, than my intellectual property rights!” And I mean it.
Luckily there are many companies protecting their users and their own interests. Mozilla, Twitter, Facebook, and Google are a few of these. And the pressure on our government from companies like this, and citizens like us, have forced congress to put the bill aside until sometime in 2012. But be ready. In the meantime educate yourself and others by clicking the embedded links above and sharing them with friends and family. Read the SOPA (and PIPA) bills on Open Congress if you have time. Visit Stop American Censorship and take action. And be prepared with these Firefox add-ons if ever the bill makes its way to become a law. Simply because something is law, does not make it right! Socrates died for this cause; let’s not allow our government to bring us to that.
And this reminds me of another quote:
“But you must remember, my fellow-citizens, that eternal vigilance by the people is the price of liberty, and that you must pay the price if you wish to secure the blessing. It behooves you, therefore, to be watchful in your States as well as in the Federal Government.” –Andrew Jackson
We must always be one step ahead of our government. We must tell them when we don’t like something. We must use our power to impeach and elect new officials, rather than allow the same old people to remain in office, and continue to make bad decisions for us.
This is why we need to dismantle our centralized government and bring it back down to a local, a manageable level. Politicians make their decisions in Washington, and therefore they make their decisions for Washington. What is good for Washington is not necessarily always good for the midwest, or California, or even rural and suburban Maryland and Virgina. No system will ever be perfect, but to have one where town hall meetings actually mean something and because of that people participate in them on a regular basis, to have a system where representatives actually represent the interests of their district or county for fear that they will lose their political power, to have a system where citizens could say, “We don’t like what you’ve done Mr. Politico! You’re out! We’ll find someone better!” and to have a system in which politicians work side by side with other districts and counties in solidarity rather than forever upwards toward the federal level, now that would be the type of system I want to live in. Vigilance would be easy, and, for the most part, everyone’s needs and concerns could be met.
UPDATE: Please be aware that the NDAA I also mentioned yesterday has indeed passed and, as Stephen B. Long of the Washington Post put it, it is “an egregious violation of due process.” Ron Paul has also commented on its threat to the American people here.