The Tea Party movement was intended for Americans to harken to the revolutions of the past when tyranny and taxation reigned over the colonies. The #OccupyWallStreet movement drew awareness to the tremendous gaps between the “haves” and the “have nots” with a call for a more sensible distribution of wealth. Both have supporters and detractors of equal passions. Neither was as purely American as what the SOPA/PIPA/OPEN blackouts planned for tomorrow represent.
There is distinct gray surrounding the Tea Party and #OWS. Both galvanized parts of the population but the political questions being asked by both sides weren’t as clear cut as tomorrow’s protests. With the Tea Party, there are as many people (if not more) who believe that the act of lowering taxes for the sake of freedom was a dangerous proposition in a world where the government can barely keep things together with the money they have coming in. With #OWS, there were as many people (if not more) who believed that the rallying calls were more about socialism than fairness.
With StopSOPA, the voices of those “in the know” are unified. Now, it’s a matter of getting the world out to those who do not know what’s at stake.
It’s for this reason that Wednesday’s protests are the most American thing that his been done in a long time by a large group of people.
It is coming to light that many of those in Congress who are supporting the bill have a complete lack of understanding of how the internet works and the consequences of censoring it in the way they propose. The financial donations from Hollywood, Nashville, and New York City are high and the lobbying efforts are strong. There are few who are willing to donate time or money to an opposition that will be labeled as “pro-piracy” which is why the general population on the internet is the only defense against the tyranny of idiocy that faces the country today.
Social news site Reddit has propelled itself to the front lines as the leader in the most important protest in recent history. Not since the Vietnam war has so much been at stake where the unified people have the potential to defeat an oppressive government. With Wikipedia, Cheezburger, Imgur, and other powerful websites on board, this will certainly help the cause and send a clear message to Washington that these pieces of legislation are asinine and not supported by their constituents.
In general, the average American has no idea what SOPA is and what’s at stake. They read the reports from mainstream media that this is an anti-piracy bill protecting the rights of content owners. They hear that those of us who oppose it simply want to be able to download free movies from foreign sites. This is not the case.
I am not a pirate. I haven’t downloaded anything illegally since the Napster days and I do not support piracy. I also do not believe in amputating an arm because there’s a wart on somebody’s hand. The statement isn’t meant to downplay the problems that piracy poses to the entertainment industry. It’s simply to illustrate that destroying the freedoms we have today for the sake of a powerful and wealthy lobby is insane and completely un-American.
SOPA is against the ropes and PIPA isn’t far behind, but Americans must remember two things: politicians are slippery and there’s a lot of money at stake. There can be zero doubt left on the table after tomorrow. There can be zero doubt left on the table next week, next month, next year, or whenever the next time this type of legislation is brought to the table.
If they are defeated, they will return. Of that, there is no doubt.
It’s not enough to post comments in support. Congress must be called. They must be faxed. They must have letters (yes, the ones with pen and paper) sent to them. Emails won’t work. The time spent and messages sent must be tangible.
People must be informed. The protests are going to bring it to light for many Americans but it can’t stop there. Tell your friends. Talk to people at work. Educate your family. Get the outrage built and the keep the protest sustained. Wednesday does not mark the end of SOPA, PIPA, or OPEN. It marks the beginning of the ongoing defense of our internet liberties.
It’s the American thing to do.