SOPA & PIPA

Tomorrow is the Big Day. There will be an internet blackout by some sites in protest of SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act). I won’t be online tomorrow. If I can figure out how to make my whole blog private I’ll do that, unless I figure out how to post a protest banner or something. The technical stuff gets ahead of me. But free speech, I understand.

A lot has already been written about what this is and why folks are upset, so I won’t go into a lot of detail here. But for those of you who may live in other countries and don’t know what all the fuss is about, I’ll say this: We already have laws against content piracy with consequences for the thief. I’ve heard of people going to jail for downloading music illegally. In my opinion, that’s pretty harsh. What more do they want? Hollywood wants providers to be held accountable. So, sites that have something posted that has been stolen could be shut down without a trial or anything.

We have already seen our government hold people in detention without charges, and now they have written it into our laws, so American citizens can be held indefinitely without charges. Last night in a political debate we heard Mitt Romney tell us we are supposed to trust him and President Obama with indefinite detention! We are mauled by TSA agents and exposed to radiation and humiliation by scanning machines at our airports in order to “keep us safe” while our Constitutional rights against unlawful searches are ignored. Our government has even had European governments protesting when  they wanted the internet providers who are located in Europe to keep records of emails for longer than EU law allows. The laws in Europe concerning this take a person’s right to privacy into account. We are seeing our rights chipped away bit by bit. If they are able to pass these bills, or any others like them, we could see sites shut down supposedly because they contained pirated content, while the effect would be to stifle our ability to speak to each other concerning our government. Some of us can easily envision our government, who thinks we need to be humiliated at airports and held without charges, (and even more, but isn’t this enough?), shutting down the internet site by site in order to keep public peace. I read that Occupy Wall Street set up their website in Canada to keep the US from shutting them down. See what we are facing here?

I’m only one person, but I’m not the only one. Even if I was, I’d still protest. I’m going to go now and catch up on some email. I won’t be online tomorrow.

ADDENDUM: I just read a blog by Reddit that explains a lot more about this than I previously understood. This is bad in so many ways. Here’s a quote: “SOPA and PROTECT IP contain no provisions to actually remove copyrighted content, but rather focus on the censorship of links to entire domains.” Please go here and read this blog; it’s really good!

ADDENDUM II: I managed to get the Stop SOPA ribbon that WordPress provided on my Home Page. Now I’ll just clean a closet or do some art or something tomorrow. When the protest is over, I plan to come back and write about some birds.

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One Christian’s Thoughts on Revolution in the Middle East

So the whole Middle East seems to be in an uproar. Starting in Tunisia and spreading to Egypt, and with rumblings in Algeria, Morocco, Yemen, and who knows where else? I have a friend in Iraq (who is working on bringing our soldiers home) who says everyone is in the streets demonstrating for electricity and clean water. Even in Iraq? They have a democracy, but it’s corrupt, and that’s why they don’t have decent utility service. I think that makes a good case for privately owned utilities, but that’s a different subject.

Everybody seems to think they know who started the uprising, and who is in control, and who will be running things once it’s all settled. As far as who started all this, I’ve heard everything from an executive at Google named Wael Ghonim, to George Soros, to the Muslim Brotherhood, to everyday people who are fed up with low wages, food shortages, and police and government brutality. I’ve even seen that supporters of George Bush give him credit for his “Freedom Agenda” causing all this. Boy, that’s a stretch.

So, here’s what I think: Revolution is very risky business. Any time a revolution starts it will either be instigated by people with a noble purpose, or people with an evil purpose. As things progress both groups will be involved. How it turns out may be nothing like the ones who started it had hoped for. Instigators, noble or otherwise, can lose control. I am praying for God to use this for His glory and the increase of His Kingdom. And for His Church world-wide to be able to say “It is well with my soul” and to remember that joy is our strength.