i am posting +Justin Ice
's letter to representative jim mcdermott, because justin says everything i want to say, better than i could ever say it:
The internet is a big place. It's a..communicative structure where people can get together to connect, to learn, to express themselves in all of the fascinating ways that we've imagined to do so. (Which is pretty significant when you consider how many people are on the internet at any given time, all banging away at expressing themselves)
It can make folks who aren't used to it feel a little small. It's happened to all of us. We've all floundered in getting a grasp of who we are and can be over the internet. That learning process of finding the groups of people we connect with, the sites that tickle our particular sense of humor, the ones where we feel we can contribute the most..it's a pretty thrilling and sickening and exciting and frightening experience. I can understand why some people don't want to throw themselves into it.
The problem, though, arises when those people are the ones in control of making our laws. Having never experienced the joy of lolcats, or blogging, or webcomics these same people will openly condemn the whole of the internet for what they've been told is bad about it. They'll hear oodles about how everyone pirates content, about the terrible, exploitative pornography, about images not fit for consumption by decent individuals. They won't hear about the good the internet represents, about the incredibly rapid evolution of culture and art that take place there.
And let's be honest, the folks who are telling them are pretty persuasive. They have incredibly fat wallets, after all, and that is the mechanism by which government seems to run these days, as appalling as that may be. I'll note that your campaign has taken significant funds from Pro-SOPA and PIPA advocates. That's not a condemnation, just an observation. The folks supporting these acts have deep pockets. And they're attempting to set into law acts that will allow them to control the content on the internet.
It is, literally, a proposal to grant a largely moneyed interest a stranglehold on culture. How many times will Fair Use be butchered? How many budding artists will be shot down because their work might be considered derivative? With the RIAA's continuing debacle against online music piracy (with all of the innocents who've been thrown into that fire), how many more do you imagine could be innocently shut down
without due process
due to the whims of a corporation seeking a cultural foothold for their new product (or show, or song, or group, or what have you)?
I get that the internet is a scary place. We understand that liberties are sometimes taken with content that ought not to be. But this isn't the way to fix those problems.
I have a wonderful quote from Neil Gaiman (a fantastic author, I hope you've read some of his works) on censorship that I think applies here too. It is my sincerest wish, as one of your constituents, that you take this to heart and not only oppose SOPA and PIPA but become eminently vocal about your opposition. Fight it not just with votes, but with the education of your fellow politicians. Fight it with the sincerity of your voice, and the might of your voters behind you. I realize as a politician it's probably difficult to get fired up and invested in much of anything, but I would ask that you try. Heavens know many of your supporters have.
"The Law is a blunt instrument. It's not a scalpel. It's a club. If there is something you consider indefensible, and there is something you consider defensible, and the same laws can take them both out, you are going to find yourself defending the indefensible."
- Justin Ice