SOPA and Climate Change

Cory Doctorow writes of proposed ill-considered legislation in the US:

If you followed my tweets from the markup session for SOPA in the House of Representatives, you know how frustrating it was to watch: you had these lawmakers blithely dismissing the security concerns of the likes of Vint Cerf, saying things like, “I’m no technology nerd, but I don’t believe it. In other words: “I’m a perfect ignoramus, but I find it convenient to disregard the world’s foremost experts.” Another congressman from Florida kept saying things like “No one can explain to me how this bill harms political debate or academic freedom.”

I think I’ve got the perfect metaphor … a tribe of gorillas have taken over an explorer’s camp, upending the jeep and taking deadly possession of the firearms. One gorilla is staring up the barrel of a rifle, while another is firing a pistol into a collection of floating explosive barrels in the river.

That image is what I keep returning to as I listen to committee members blithely dismiss the experts who warn that this bill will undermine civic debate, academic freedom, and the security of the Internet. Of course, these are the same committee members who refused to hear testimony from the bill’s opponents.

If you think an open and free internet is crucial to finding some kind of way out of this mess, educate yourself about this SOPA bill and let your congressman know how you FEEL about SOPA immediately, (because time is short, and also because what you THINK is obviously of no consequence).

And consider the whole negotiating style: “Nobody can explain this to me. In fact I’m so sure nobody can explain it to me I’m not even trying to listen.”

Nobody who has been following the climate situation will be unfamiliar with it. In fact, there’s a lot of that going around, isn’t there?


  1. But if you follow that line of reasoning, doesn't it suggest that regime change is where we should be aiming? We kid ourselves we have the best systems of government in the world because we get to vote every few years. But when the choices of who to vote for have been sown up in advance by a small cadre of powerful people, then we're no more democratic than Putin's Russia, or any of the Arab countries that are busy overthrowing their governments.

  2. The following will require a few constitutional amendments, but would make a big difference, IMO.

    Public funded elections to get the money out:

    End personhood for corporations:

    Reverse Citizens United case:

    Outlaw the revolving door between govt and corporations/lobbyists

    Return the Glass Steagal Act

    Return the Fairness Doctrine in the media

  3. sailrick, I suspect that, when the crap really really hits the fan and change actually starts happening, people won't care about there are 2/3 of both houses or 3/4 of state legislatures; they'll just write a new set of laws. If the Libyan revolutionaries had bothered so much with this "legal process" stuff, they'd never have got anything done.

    Speaking of which, I don't understand those Obama apologists who think it's OK for him to ignore the law when dealing with some people, but he's somehow bound to the law and "his hands are tied" or what not when dealing with other people. Or, in more concrete terms, if it was fine for Obama to target Anwar Al-Awlaki for death, or to imprison Tim DeChristopher, what on earth exactly prevents him from, say, shipping Marc Morano to Gitmo? What Obama can or can't do has nothing whatsoever to do with the ostensible "legislative process", does it?

    -- frank

  4. With my fluid dynamicist hat on, I have to say the less "regime change" the better. To me "regime change" means a massive climate shift. Abrupt shifts in the political climate are every bit as dangerous as abrupt shifts in the climate climate; historically, more so.

    Given that we already have the skeleton of a functioning democracy, it is vastly better to make use of it rather than to try to conjure up new meta-rules.

    It is better to work around old systems than to try to dismantle them.

    There is a whole lot of function along with the dysfunction. Trying to start over is pretty much guaranteed to fail.

  5. Unfortunately, regime change is all too likely to go the other way, considering that all the guns and money are on the other side.

    I was startled to hear that 1.5 million gun checks (not guns, mindjew, and that's just the non-gunshow and legal sales) occurred during December, and that gun sales were up 100% for Christmas (kind of unchristian, innit?). That's a lot of new firepower, but nobody dare mention that the increase in shooting rampages is an offshoot (pun intended) of our inability to confront the gun lobby. In what world are we more likely to be successful in regime change?

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