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A&E, Comment

SOPA commentary

Harrison Dahme, Howl Staff

When you got to work or class on Wednesday, you probably noticed that Wikipedia, Reddit, BoingBoing, TheOatmeal, etc, were all “blacked out”. Hopefully by now you’ve heard about SOPA and PIPA. If not, then go look it up on the Internet while it’s still free. Given that Wednesday was “Black Out Day”, how will the virtual mass protests change things going forward?

In case you hadn’t heard, there are about 30 or so US congressmen who are now opposed to SOPA, whereas they were only five-strong when it was initially proposed. It should be abundantly clear by now that close to no private citizens support the proposed act. So that begs the tangential question, wtf is wrong with American politics that the American government will still support legislation which the vast majority of its citizens do not? And while we can pat ourselves on the collective back for having swung the opinions of 25 congressmen, there still need to be 35 votes-against before it fails completely.

The only people who stand to gain from the inevitable total censorship and corporate control of the New Internet – if that sick and perverted dream is ever realized – are the music, movie and video game industries; coincidentally the largest supporters of the bill. Unfortunately, this mass conglomerate of money holds great influence in the White House, and equally unfortunately, the American decision on this holds great influence for the rest of the world. And so while there’s been a massive shift of public awareness as to how important having a free Internet is, the fact that the matter is still relatively undecided in Washington is an ominous omen and a definitive telltale sign that if there is going to democracy in the United States, for the people, by the people, then there are deeper issues here that need to be sorted first.

I know most of the articles that get published in The Howl dealing with A&E end up being lighthearted and fun and mostly laced with dry and sarcastic wit, but the take-away message from this one is that we should be incredibly critical of the entertainment industry (as well as most of the shit – and that is meant in both senses of the word – they produce). We live in incredibly interesting times where for the first time it is easier than ever for individuals to come together and present an actual statement of their society’s views, rather than accepting a statistician’s politically motivated approximation of the same.

And so while collectively we did well a couple days ago, there is still a ton of work that has to be done. We are not out of the woods yet and if anything, we are at a juncture where a new stage in the war for a free Internet is beginning.


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