I wrote this post on Wednesday, and by Friday SOPA was dead. Congratulations to everyone who fussed. On Friday I actually received an email from my congressman Larry Kissell after sending the letter below.
I didn’t want to get all caught up in the SOPA drama today, but with everyone flailing around the like it’s the zombie apocalypse, I slipped and fell into the bucket of chaos with the rest of you. However, I’m not one of those guys who just goes along with everyone because everyone is going along with something. Rather, I grow skeptical of mass mobilizations like the Stop SOPA movement.
It seems like SOPA has gone from something good, designed to fight piracy and benefit ‘legitimate business,’ to the stuff of Mao’s dreams.
I know I’m in the minority when I say that I have some trust in others to make good decisions. Especially people I vote into these kinds of jobs. Yes, there’s corruption in government, and no, this will likely never change. But if you were to believe everyone on the Internet today, Congress is about to pass a bill that will kill the Internet as we know it and turn America into an intellectual prison.
I don’t think anyone in Washington would seriously endorse such a thing. “Hi I’m Bob, and I’m running for US Senator. And I think you’re a jackass who needs to be monitored online and someone who only needs access to the kind of information that me and my colleagues think you should have access to. Because America is a prison and we need all the workers to do their jobs. Well. And without all that silly freedom of information stuff that gets in the way of productivity.”
No, I think maybe that Congress is being rushed into making a very important decision that their colleagues (I mean, lobbyists) think is a good idea for the country, but that they don’t really understand themselves.
And so I say halt. Start over. Write something that helps attack piracy but endorses attribution. Take your time. Get this right.
So here’s what I wrote to my Congressman today:
Dear Mr. Kissell,
You’ve no doubt heard the uproar on the Internet about the SOPA legislation. There are some pretty scared people out here. They fear that SOPA means censorship, and that America is on the verge of becoming Orwell’s 1984. Because of this, maybe the best course of action is to step back and take a long look at SOPA to see how we can make it right.
I am pretty sure that most people are for copyright enforcement (and laws that encourage proper attribution), and against pirates who steal intellectual property. So why not write a bill that fixes these things, and steers clear of any of this censorship nonsense? As far as I can tell, it’s the censorship stuff that people are freaking out about. Not the idea that we should do away with piracy.
This is too important to hastily sign without making sure it’s right. One of the reasons we voted you into office was to do the right thing in times like this. I, for one, have complete confidence that you will.
For emphasis, I was going to add ‘or prepare to be eaten’ to the end of the message, but then remembered that you get more bees with honey. And sure enough, Mr. Kissell got back to me on Friday. Click here for his email.