Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Sunday, January 29, 2012


You dog!

So we have two events in the past few weeks.

First, we have the outpouring of opposition to SOPA/PIPA that effectively shuts down that particular piece of legislation, leading to a hissy fit from Chris Dodd that made me glad he's no longer my Senator.

Then, we have the arrest of bloated freakshow Kim Dotcom.  His story is just bizarre.  He's greedy, grifty and grafty.  Corrupt and filthy rich, he created both a persona and a financial empire built around the fact that he knew a little bit about the internet, when everyone was throwing money at people like that.

MegaUpload was his real money maker, whereby he shared pirated video and music for a premium.

I think the saga of SOPA/PIPA/Kim Dotcom shows that the issues addressed in SOPA/PIPA are real.  When I wrote my representatives to protest this particular bill, I said that I understand the need of content creators to profit from their content.  I avoid file sharing.  I think it's theft.  But there's no question it's a big issue.

But even without SOPA/PIPA the Feds were able to take down MegaUpload.  So the natural question is why do we need an additional piece of legislation that could have prevented me from quoting from Charlie Pierce under copyright restrictions.

Like the Patriot Act, the TSA and various other acts by the government ever since forever there are a host of unintended consequences to legislation.  I think that's at the heart of public distrust of government, and that's why both Clinton and Obama have made governmental reform the centerpiece of their administrations.  You can't have good governmental programs without good government.

But these two stories, the rise of internet millionaire Kim Dotcom nee Schmitz and SOPA/PIPA, also show that basic internet literacy is lacking at very important levels of business and government.  I'm not claiming any great expertise myself, but the suits who bankrolled Kim Dotcom's Kimpire and the ante-diluvian Senators who supported SOPA/PIPA just really have no idea how the Internet works.

At some point, we have to return to the Enlightenment and Progressive idea that facts and expertise matter.  Or, to put it another way, Professor Gingrich's assault on "elites" is yet another corrosive, damaging stone in the tomb of his legacy.

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