There’s an argument made about the rise of police powers, that you only have to worry about it if you’re breaking the law. I can understand why people would want to believe that. The idea that we live in constant threat of unfair persecution from powers far beyond our control is a terrifying one. But the un-nuanced view that only the guilty are punished and the innocent have nothing to fear is, at best, naive.
To say that government doesn’t have your best interest at heart isn’t paranoid, nor is it unfair. I’d do believe that government in general has what it thinks are your best interests at heart. And they’re going to miss the mark occasionally. And, in several proven incidents throughout history, our government, which is supposed to protect us all equally, has done some really unconscionable things “for the greater good.”
So why do I fear that Stop Online Piracy Act? I’m a creative content provider, after all, right? Don’t I want to stop piracy? Sure. But I think there are much, much better ways of doing it than resorting to jack-booted thuggery.
Surely our nation can do better, right?
I mean, it’s not like we nuked our own country 210 times over the period of 17 years, then tried to cover it up. (Yes, in fact, we did. It might have been at least partially responsible for the cancer that killed John Wayne, the most American of cowboys.)
At least we never secretly conducted experiments on the effect of mind-controlling drugs on civilians. (We did that too, actually. It was called MK-ULTRA.)
So, giving drugs to people, that’s kind of bad. Thankfully we didn’t actively withhold medical treatment by way of experiment. (Holy doodle, we did that too. In Macon County, Alabama, the U.S. Government participated in a 40 year study of syphilis in a poor black community without their knowledge.)
We also imprisoned a large ethnic group for a period of time because we were at war with their native country. But the internment camps weren’t exactly secret. We just don’t like to think about them. Maybe because we don’t want to consider that it could happen again. (While this could be the height of paranoia, the REX 84 plan has been heavily researched and documented. Sure, it might never happen, but it at least looks like it’s been considered as an option.)
And let’s say nothing about the irony of our country waging a war on drugs while flooding L.A. with crack cocaine. Because using drugs to undermine threats has been a proven tactic since Britain did it to China in 1817 through Canton (starting the First Opium War), if not sooner.
So we dabbled in drugs. These things happen. It’s not like we killed or deoposed world leaders to create more favorable diplomatic conditions. (Sigh. Of course we did. The Church Commission uncovered it while looking into the Watergate mess and put together a quite damning report.)
So, the Stop Internet Piracy Act is harmless. As long as we don’t pirate anything we’re fine, right? There are safeguards in place. Not exactly. If someone else posts a link on your site (Google+, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) that infringes on copyright, your site can be shut down from afar. This doesn’t affect real pirates, because the site is taken down by domain name, not IP address, and pirates don’t give a shit about that. Even if it’s not something you’d recognize as piracy, like you singing the latest Metallica song and it gets put up on your site (or again, just linked to your site), you could have 5 comfortable years in prison for the infringement.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
In even the most optimistic reading of the bill, SOPA sucks out loud. In the more paranoid reading, we’re all one bad link away from being bent over the counter by some entertainment lawyer in a Mickey Mouse mask while the government that’s supposed to be here to protect us watches with polite golf claps.
I’m not paranoid.I love my country. I really do. It’s not perfect, but it’s damn near the best game in town. But I know my history, too. And I know better than to trust them blindly.
So my site will be going dark on Wednesday the 18th in protest. I know I don’t get enough views for anyone to care. But that doesn’t excuse me from doing nothing.