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.