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Robert A. Mills

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Blogs by Robert A. Mills

FOLLIES
1/21/2012 6:34:16 AM
We recently received an email from a friend in Washington, which told us that Congress is beginning a debate on whether they should turn off parts of the Internet. To us, this sounds like governmental abuse of power now that they’ve realized the Internet is the most powerful and sought-after means of communication on Earth, far surpassing the telephone, radio, TV, telegram, newspapers—even the US Postal Service!

In protest of this, Wikipedia and others went black for 24 hours last Wednesday. Did they ever come back on?

If Congress actually acts on this, such a law would, among other things, make copyright infringement, without normal review, a process that could shut down sites like YouTube and Wikipedia permanently, including the Tea Party and liberal as well as radical right-wing websites—or any U.S.-based or foreign site—which could be blacked-out because of simple and unfounded “suspicion,” making the Internet unavailable to everyone on the planet. Would it end the piracy of music and movies? Get real.

But, make no mistake, such a law would have inestimable impact. For example, if we wanted to post a video on YouTube, say, singing a Beatles’ song that was either in or out of the public domain, some record company could require the Department of Justice to shut down YouTube while we argued our case in court—assuming we’d be permitted or any court would take a chance on listening to us.

According to nervous Americans we’ve talked to, Congress did not come up with this nifty idea on its own. Lobbyists representing Comcast, Pfizer, certain recording and movie companies, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, of all people, have been pushing Democrats and Republicans for years to pass bills that will allow this highly questionable sort of censorship.

And, belive it or not, they are very close to getting their way! *

Certain Congressmen, however, even those who understand it, are standing strong and saying “No way!” to these powerful special interest groups. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, for example, is one of these champions. He has said he will start a filibuster of the Internet Censorship Act, during which he’ll read the names of every single person who is against Internet censorship—and at last count there were over 15 million Internet-connected individuals proclaiming they were against governmental interference in cyberspace!

At that rate, it should take the senator about 6 terms to complete his filibuster, and by then we will have a multitude of other more serious problems. The Internet Censorship Act will die an ignominious death (which it should.)

We, obviously, have a personal axe to grind. Thousands read these weekly op-ed columns—and we know very, very few of you personally. Our website is authorsden.com/robertmills, and we copyright everything as the original author of each piece, although we occasionally use re-writes and fragments from emails from various sources, usually with proper acknowledgment (such as this one.)

If Congress imposes an Internet Censorship Act, it would allow any group to dispute all copyrighted contributions, and we could be forced to abandon the effort entirely or charge exorbitant fees to cover court appearances and attorney costs—which, of course, no one would pay, and that would be the end of us.

As a natural American citizen, born in Ohio at my grandparents’ house, and fawned over by my mother and father, my British/Croatian grandparents, my mother’s sisters and my father’s nearby family, at the height of the Great Depression, governmental interference in my life, liberty, and pursuit of what can best be called ‘happiness’ cannot be tolerated. That also includes the right of unrestricted expression, be it the written word or just thinking—either silently or out loud.

So long as we pay our fair share of taxes and do no harm to others, obey the laws of the land, and render to everyone the same obligations and sense of freedom he has an equal right to enjoy, we are well within prospects to be left alone. Right?

In presenting my case, let’s look to the alleged accusations being hurled at the former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain. Even if he gets his old job back on an abbreviated basis at WSB, we do not have any proof that he ever sexually harassed anyone, or if he had an ‘affair’ with the lass from Atlanta. We can’t say for certain if either he or the five ladies are lying or telling the truth—nor do we care. We had no plans to vote for him, anyway, let alone listen to him on talk radio—he is a less threat to common sense and clear-headed thought than even Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Neal Boortz or Rush Limbaugh.

Besides, we may well sit out the 2012 election. The entire slate of GOP hopefuls leaves much to be desired, and it all depends on our reaction to President Obama’s State of the Union address whether or not he is entitled to a second term.

Unfortunately, we will not be allowed the write about this (or anything else) if the Internet Censorship Act becomes a fait acompli.

Should you agree with us and feel similarly, we would ask you to contact your Congressmen in writing and ask them to do all possible to squelch the Internet Censorship Act so that it never has a chance of passing.

In case you don’t know (and, sadly, 93.3% of Americans don’t,) you can find out who your Congressmen are, and their addresses, by simply going to the Internet and ask. Do it while you still can. (Try Wikipedia, if they’re up and running.)

Wow, what a week! On top of everything else, Eastman Kodak declared bankruptcy and William Shatner was let go by Priceline. What else can happen!

* We learned late yesterday that the 112th Do Nothing Congress has abandoned efforts to enact a SOPA and PIPA Internet Censorship Act. Yea! The voice of the people was heard (at last)!

Copyright 2012 by Robert A. Mills, all rights reserved


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