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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Challenging Schumer and Gillibrand on SOPA

Largely missed among the online protests against SOPA and PIPA today - protests with whose goal I strongly agree, though I disagree with the tactics of shutting down online systems, as I indicated on Monday - were in-person demonstrations at the Manhattan offices of US Senators from New York Schumer and Gillibrand.

Unlike Wikipedia going dark, which inconvenienced millions of innocent people, the protests against Schumer and Gillibrand were lodged exactly such protests should be, in the faces of people who support SOPA and PIPA and apparently don't care about the damage such law if enacted would do to the Internet, and thereby our lives.  Not only support these bills, but in the case of Schumer and Gillibrand sponsored the Senate version of SOPA - that is,  PIPA.

I've lived in New York all my life, and yet I still find myself surprised when a New York elected official, let alone a Democrat, has such a benighted, retrograde position.  But Schumer has been a disrespecter of the First Amendment for a long time.  He loves the FCC and the fines it levies, and speaks glowingly of the Fairness Doctrine and hopes to see it reinstated.  He probably thinks all the First Amendment prohibits is the government's shutting down newspapers in the middle of the night, but I wouldn't put that past him, either, if the paper printed something he judged in bad taste.

I guess I expected more of Kristen Gillibrand.  Truthfully, I was disappointed when former Governor Paterson passed over Carolyn Kennedy for Hillary Clinton's replacement, and appointed the little-known Gillibrand.   She's done a pretty good job, until SOPA.  I tried to give her a chance.

But the Schumer-Gillibrand position on SOPA-PIPA is insulting to anyone with any intelligence.  Internet piracy is something we all want to stop.  Especially me, as an author.  But Schumer and Gillibrand think it's costing New Yorkers jobs.   Hardly - the movie and television industries are still situated in Hollywood, and the old music business, the RIAA-kind, isn't situated anywhere anymore.   What would cost jobs in New York are Internet companies going broke because of unconstitutional Federal fines and shutdowns in pursuit of pirates.

But speaking of jobs - I hope New Yorkers put someone up against Schumer next time a primary comes around, and as for Gillibrand - let's hope she comes to her senses and withdraws her support from SOPA and PIPA before she loses whatever support she still has from New Yorkers who want to build a better future.

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