Despite believing that SOPA and PIPA were untouchable, that citizens and other concerned individuals could do nothing to halt their passage into law, Rep. Lamar Smith (R) and other well-lobbied supporters of these odious bills are discovering that these pieces of legislative excrement are quickly becoming untouchable in an entirely new and unpleasant manner. SOPA and PIPA are certifiably radioactive. As I write this post, 35 Senators now publicly oppose PIPA. Last week there were only 5 dissenting Senators. What brought about this change? Internet Blackout Day certainly caught everyone’s attention; however, that’s only part of the story. The real impetus for what we are observing is the people across America who are calling their elected officials.
Guess what Congress? You’ve got our attention. Yes, we are watching you and what see disgusts us. Truth be told, we should have been watching and calling you a long, long time ago. All those voters who didn’t know who you are or how to contact you are getting informed and mobilized. Now that you’ve contemptuously slapped a hornet’s nest, get ready for the Swarm.
I’ve been calling my own legislators here in Georgia. For example, I phoned the office of Rep. John Barrow (D) yesterday. I asked to speak with someone–anyone, really–who works on copyright issues. The person answering the call told me that the person I wanted to speak with was in an important meeting. I thanked the staffer for taking my call in the midst of chaos. I explained that I wanted share my dismay that Rep. John Barrow supports legislation that I and many, many others find distressing. I also explained that I wanted list my reasons for being concerned. I noted:
- In all likelihood, the provisions of these bills would be abused. Emboldened by vague wording in the law, sites could be incorrectly seized and censored.
- These bills go against American principles of freedom of speech. Respected Constitutional scholars and hundreds of law professors have echoed this point.
- The technology sector (the people who know what they are talking about when it comes to the internet) have pointed out that these bills are innovation killers.
- These bills are not do going to do anything to solve the problems they are trying to address.
While quickly and courteously sharing my concerns, the person taking my call began to try to convince me that there was nothing in either piece of legislation that was a cause for concern. I explained that I had not called to debate the merits of the bills, only to register my concerns. I added that I had a great many other legislators to contact and that I would like to finish leaving my message for Rep. Barrow.
I don’t know if my message will be relayed. It may get lost in the collection of other calls that were coming in at the time. Even so, I’ll be calling again…frequently.
- Fax your representative, for free with HelloFax.
- ProPublica shows where your members of Congress stand on SOPA and PIPA–get informed and start calling!
- Be prepared to discuss why you have concerns. Start with TechDirt’s excellent An Updated Analysis: Why SOPA & PIPA Are A Bad Idea, Dangerous & Unnecessary
- Be sure to read Joe Brockmeier’s insightful What I Wish Wikipedia and Others Were Saying About SOPA/PIPA
Finally watch Sal from Khan Academy explain, “What SOPA and PIPA are at face value and what they could end up enabling.”