Wednesday, January 18, 2012 — Some Real Protest For a Change

As of this mid­night, Wikipedia is not avail­able on the Inter­net. This is a protest being made by the peo­ple who admin­is­ter Wikipedia. It will last for 24 hours.

In late 2011, the United States Con­gress pro­posed two leg­isla­tive bills, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA). This is pro­foundly evil leg­is­la­tion designed to lay the ground­work for cen­sor­ship of the inter­net, along the lines of that prac­ticed by the Com­mu­nist Party in China. The first of these acts, House Bill 3261, intro­duced by Repub­li­can rep­re­sen­ta­tive Lamar Smith of Texas, has been suc­cinctly described by Har­vard con­sti­tu­tional scholar Lau­rence Tribe in a recent open let­ter: this leg­is­la­tion will “under­mine the open­ness and free exchange of infor­ma­tion at the heart of the Inter­net. And it would vio­late the First Amend­ment.” If you are under the impres­sion that this leg­is­la­tion has been defeated, look again. It has been slightly mod­i­fied, and its Con­ser­v­a­tive and Cor­po­rate back­ers are on the march again.

If you are an Amer­i­can, I urge you to make it clear to your elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives that you know what they are up to, and will do your best to pun­ish them if they col­lude with this abom­i­na­tion. I am not an Amer­i­can, but I have con­fi­dence that the Amer­i­can peo­ple will wake up and recover the sense of jus­tice and love of free­dom that once made them a great people.

Wikipedia’s act of protest is clear, to the point, ratio­nal and intel­li­gent. It will have a real effect. The peo­ple at Wikipedia under­stand that, in a coun­try like the United States, what hap­pens on the floor of the leg­is­la­ture mat­ters. As a Cana­dian, I know that any such leg­is­la­tion in the United States will pave the way for sim­i­lar attacks on free­dom in my own coun­try. It will also sharply reduce the effec­tive­ness of dis­sent in coun­tries where peo­ple are strug­gling for democ­racy against dic­ta­tor­ship. If it passes in any form, the Com­mu­nist Party in Bei­jing, dic­ta­tors every­where, and every other Con­ser­v­a­tive force will be aided and embold­ened. This is the World’s fight, not just an Amer­i­can issue.

You may notice that I feel strongly about this. No decent human being can sup­port this leg­is­la­tion. Any­one who would do so would be ejected from my home, and be cut off from all inter­ac­tion with me. At the moment, the Inter­net is the crit­i­cal life­line in the war between Civ­i­liza­tion and Con­ser­v­a­tive Bar­barism. It is the elec­tronic equiv­a­lent of the con­voys of pro­vi­sion ships that crossed the Atlantic dur­ing WW2, con­stantly threat­ened by Nazi U-boats. It must be defended at all costs.

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