If you stopped by the blog on January 18, you were probably surprised to find it cloaked in black. (If you tried to look anything up on Wikipedia that day, you’d have encountered a similar blackout.) And take a look at the black ribbon in the upper-right corner of TMSW that says “Stop Censorship.” That ribbon will remain there until January 24. Here’s why: The Midlife Second Wife, along with about 13 million others, took a stand this week to protest proposed U.S. legislation that threatens Internet freedom: the Stop Internet Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA).
Let me be clear: Copyright infringement is wrong. Online piracy is wrong. Rogue websites are wrong. But so is censorship, and from what I’ve read on the subject, the two bills that Congress proposed, although well-meaning, would have done far more harm than good. One commentator likened it to taking a sledgehammer to the Internet when what’s needed is a scalpel. There’s got to be a solution, but SOPA and PIPA ain’t it.
David Carr, one of the smartest critics around, covers technology, media, and popular culture for the New York Times. He and his colleague, Jenna Wortham, explain the issues quite well in several articles; I’ve included them for those who want to know more. In “The Danger of an Attack on Piracy Online,” he quoted First Amendment lawyer Lawrence H. Tribe:
Laurence H. Tribe, the noted First Amendment lawyer, said in an open letter on the Web that SOPA would “undermine the openness and free exchange of information at the heart of the Internet. And it would violate the First Amendment.”
One more word about all of this before we return you to your regularly scheduled digest of marital musings, recipes, and midlife meanderings. I have pretty strong political beliefs, and heretofore I’ve tried to keep them out of the blog. That might have been an idealistic, even silly goal. I don’t live in a vacuum and I certainly oughtn’t blog in one. But I also don’t want my views to overwhelm this site; if I wanted to write a political blog I’d have started one. So you can be certain that when I take a stand on something in this venue, as I did this week, it’s for a powerful reason. As a writer living in a free society, I’m painfully aware that there are writers in areas of the world who are not able to express their beliefs for fear of reprisal, prison, or worse.
My blog’s cloak of black on Wednesday is as much a stand in solidarity with them as it is in opposition to SOPA and PIPA.
And now friends, it’s time to cook something.
“The Danger of an Attack on Piracy Online,” David Carr, The New York Times
“How I’m Surviving (Or Trying to) Without Wikipedia at my Fingertips,” David Carr, The New York Times
“A Political Coming of Age for the Tech Industry” Jenna Wortham, The New York Times