Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Maybe this time we'll get it right

I’ve been suspicious of governmental control and against censorship since I was a kid; blame thank all of the dystopian books I read growing up and the adults who supported my right to do so. But there have been times that I’ve seen Orwellian changes coming to this country (The Patriot Act, the TSA body scanners, the recent security law that allows American terrorism suspects to be detained without trial) and haven’t done much about them. Not because I thought they weren’t important issues, but because I honestly thought they wouldn’t come to pass, or that they would be reversed when different officials were elected or when the truth about them spread widely enough.

To take a recent non-legislative example, I was talking to my husband about the worst of the police violence and pepper-spraying at Occupy rallies, and I asked if he’d read anything about how those officers were being punished… because surely their actions wouldn’t just get swept under the rug, right? Not when the video evidence was so public, right? 

But then I thought about all the other information that has come to light and not stopped illogical laws or abuses of power. (Like, say, the recent reports of TSA employees getting cancer from the radiation and officials refusing to do further tests.) It made me realize that I wasn’t as wary and skeptical as I thought. Sure, I’ve never had a hard time believing that people in authority abused their power, that horrible things went on behind closed doors, that government and business were in bed together, that important information would be concealed if it messed with the status quo, that every story was getting spun by someone somewhere. BUT at the same time, I was enough of a naïve optimist to believe that once the lies were exposed, once the truth was out there, then things would have to change. The government or group in question would have to bow to the will of the informed public. And sometimes that does happen, certainly; exposure of scandals has forced people out of power and into prison. But sometimes the truth is exposed and nothing significant changes.  

It's easy to misestimate public opinion, too. Of course I have friends, family, and coworkers who hold different political views than I do, and I’m introduced/subjected to a wide range of opinions whenever I turn on the TV or browse the web. But more often I read, watch, and talk to people with similar views – I think we all do. Plus I’m currently in Eugene, which is the most liberal and free speech-y place that I’ve lived. So, at least subconsciously, I start to assume that the majority of Americans watch what I watch, read what I read, support what I support, and oppose what I oppose. I start to assume that the tide of America is turning a certain way, and that the government will be forced to follow. 

Most pertinent for today, I start to assume that SOPA and PIPA will never pass. Piracy needs to be reduced, but this act is CLEARLY NOT the way to do it. So many articles have explained why it isn't the right choice, how it will destroy freedom, creativity, and productivity without significantly solving problems. So many influential and everyday people have stood up against it. There's no way it will pass after so much intelligent and vocal outrage...right? Right?

I’m writing this post because I’m terrified that I’m wrong. I’m worried that freedom and rational thinking will somehow lose again and SOPA and PIPA will pass, beginning a domino effect of restricted freedoms.

But I’m also writing this post because I still have hope that I’m right. Today, a long list of influential websites (Wikipedia, Reddit, Google, Twitter…) is protesting with blackouts or informational messages. We all know the power of the internet to spread information and make things happen – it’s part of what makes the internet freedoms in question here worth saving, after all – so I still have enough shreds of optimism left to believe that all these voices will be heard and those in power will do the right thing.

So please join me in using the links below to learn about SOPA and PIPA, sign petitions against them, and contact your local representatives before the Senate begins voting on January 24th.

Learn more through Wikipedia and then use their page to look up your local representatives
Watch the video below and check out Nova Rena Suma's blog blackout where I found it and sign that petition too.

PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.


  1. Sign the petition through Google, but it will take more contact, so please, everyone, contact legislators. Although millions of people have "signed" through Google, politicians look askance at mass-produced petition signatures, believing them to be reflections of crowd mentality instead of public opinion. A personal letter or email or phone call has more weight.

    1. YES, very true. I was actually just talking to Kyle about this as I was writing my email. My representatives actually already oppose SOPA (Yay Oregon!), but I need to research their proposed alternative, the OPEN Act. It is undoubtedly less restrictive/illogical/in violation of rights than SOPA/PIPA, so that's a start. Here's hoping more politicians get off the crazy SOPA/PIPA train.

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