by Kevin Allman
By now you're certainly aware of the day of protest over SOPA and PIPA, the House and Senate bills that aim to squelch Internet piracy by, well, squelching the Internet. When you've got both The Hayride and Michael Moore objecting to the bills — for the same reasons — well, Congresspeople, to quote Bill Engvall, here's your sign. Seriously, the Hayride's essay is an excellent one:
Who decides what’s objectionable? Who decides which cases have merit? Who decides when to pull the plug on a site? What are the criteria? Just losing money isn’t enough — we have civil law suits for that.
Remember; all the while you hunt the wolf; he hunts you. You could be the next to suffer some bureaucrat’s knee-jerk reaction to a perceived slight.
I know personally how badly loss of copyright sucks. But loss of the rights to read controversial copy and ideas sucks worse. It’s CENSORSHIP. It’s a bad thing.
Meanwhile, as the SOPA/PIPA protest goes into the afternoon, GOP heavyweights like Fla. Sen. Marco Rubio and Texas Sen. John Cornyn have backed off their initial support of PIPA (Rubio had even been a cosponsor) — which puts them, like it or not (and they won't) on the side of the Obama administration.
More strange bedfellows: Up in Minnesota, the liberal Democratic Rep. Al Franken is all for SOPA (though his constituents on his Facebook page are most definitely not), while the conservative GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann is against it. So: If you're opposed to SOPA/PIPA, you're on Bachmann's side. And Bachmann is on Nancy Pelosi's side. My head is spinning just typing that sentence.
In Louisiana, the strange bedfellows go in reverse. Both Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu and Republican Sen. David Vitter — who are often at odds both professionally and personally — are not only both supporting PIPA, they're both cosponsoring it. Landrieu provided us with a statement; Vitter's office has ignored our request for one. (That hasn't stopped angry constituents from flooding his Facebook page with comments.)
In the Louisiana House delegation, Republican Rep. Jeff Landry is foursquare against SOPA (he provided us with a two-sentence statement: "This is ridiculous. When is this government intrusion going to stop?"), while his ideological soulmate, Rep. Steve Scalise, is cosponsoring it. Meanwhile, where does Democratic Rep. Cedric Richmond stand? He's supposed to get back to us this afternoon (and we'll update this post when he does).
Cats and dogs lying together! Legislators who usually vote in lockstep in fervent disagreement! Bachmann and Pelosi!!!! What's going on here?
Under the cut, Sen. Landrieu's statement about why she's cosponsoring the legislation — in which she seems to be leaving herself some wiggle room.
“Every year internet piracy costs the United States billions in earnings and compromises the jobs of millions of American workers. I understand that this bill is a work in progress and I plan to work closely with all interested parties to ensure that the effect of this legislation on individual rights does not outweigh the overall benefit of combating the theft of intellectual property. For that reason, I am open to hearing views that a different approach might be necessary but it is important that the Senate bring this issue up for debate.
The Protect IP Act has substantial bi-partisan support. Recently bipartisanship on any issue has been difficult but I am pleased to join with my colleagues to protect the rights of American copyright holders from foreign websites dedicated to digital piracy. This bill is important to Louisiana’s economy, especially our growing movie industry and our well established music industry. Louisiana has a long history of local, national and world-renowned artists whose livelihood depends on the sale of their original works. This bill aims to protect their right to control the use, production and distribution of their work.”