Last Wednesday, I wrote an extensive piece on how I, as a Hollywood professional, cannot support the anti-piracy bills SOPA and PIPA. Out of everything I wrote, I received the most feedback for this passage:
What do Darrell Issa, Nancy Pelosi, the ACLU, Daily Kos, RedState.com, Markos Moulitsas and Ron Paul have in common? They all oppose SOPA/PIPA.
Personally, I've never agreed with Darrel Issa on any issue ever, but I agree with him on this.
How is this possible? Because the divide over SOPA/PIPA isn't political, it's between those who understand how the internet works and those who don't.
Nowhere is this more apparent than at two websites which normally inhabit diametrically opposing ends of the political spectrum; liberal Daily Kos and conservative RedState.
"There’s simply nothing partisan about this issue." wrote Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas for The Hill, "Social media have been critical to both the Tea Party and Occupy movements, to trade unionists and anti-abortion groups alike.... The question isn’t whether you’re a Democrat or Republican, it’s whether you prize freedom of speech and freedom of the press for all, over the narrow intellectual-property concerns of a few."
RedState founder Erik Erikson is so incensed about the legislation, he's threatening to primary it's Congressional supporters......and - incredibly - called on left to join him in that fight.
"This battle is so important — and is one of those rare fights where the left and right are united against Congress — that I suggest the left and right unite and pledge to defeat in primaries every person named as a sponsor on H.R. 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act.", Erikson posted. "This might mean some allies are taken out. It might mean we take out Marsha Blackburn on the right and Debbie Wasserman Schultz on the left. But sometimes a fight is that important..... Letting the Attorney General of the United States shut down the internet as he wants, whether it be Eric Holder or a future John Ashcroft, should scare the mess out of every American."
The bipartisan pressure seems to be working. In the Senate, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) says he'll "delay" implementation of DNS blocking until "further study". In the House, Lamar Smith (R-TX) says he'll remove DNS blocking altogether. And yesterday, the White House issued a statement saying the President wouldn't support anti-pirating legislation "that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet."
It's a step in the right direction, but it's not enough. There are too many weasel words in all these declarations. Now simply isn't the time to let up.
Which is why I'm asking both RedState and Daily Kos to join a blackout action planned for Wednesday, January 18th.
From 8am - 8pm EST, thousands of websites - including Reddit, BoingBoing, Mozilla, and TwitPic (to name a few) - will go dark. Users trying to access those sites will instead be redirected to a "blackout" page livestreaming a hearing called by Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) to give technical experts and critics of the bills the chance to testify before the House Oversight Committee. Users will also be asked to contact Congress and voice opposition to the bills.
I can't think of a better way to send a powerful message to both Congress and the mainstream media that opposition to these bills transcends the political and should, as Erikson put it, "scare the mess out of every American."