61) Be educated on politics and current issues
Ok, I’ll admit it – I have occasionally been a consumer of illegally downloaded content. But at least I have the freedom to download illegally if I choose. Censorship is something that I adamantly oppose in any form; so when I learned about the current piracy legislation I was naturally concerned about the possible implications.
I hadn’t heard anything about the SOPA or PIPA controversy until the media blackout this past Wednesday. I don’t know how I missed it since I watch or listen to the news in some form daily. Maybe I haven’t paid close attention - I do usually listen to the news on my computer while I’m at work. Perhaps I’m only kidding myself to think I can really multi-task successfully. Or, maybe my lack of knowledge is a testament to the selective reporting practices of our national media conglomerates? But I digress, that is a subject for another post.
So, I’m still learning about the pending legislation and what the uproar is all about. I’ve read several news articles on the subject and listened to a few radio and TV debates about the proposed bills in Congress. What I’ve heard so far from the critics makes SOPA and PIPA sound like shady borderline censoring that could seriously damage the internet. In contrast, proponents of the bills say that the media created a sensationalist frenzy that is stalling badly needed reform.
What do I think?
Yes, piracy is stealing and it is wrong. Yes, piracy is an issue that needs to be addressed and better methods need to be used to stop such infringement on the creators’ right to fair compensation. However, is SOPA and PIPA the solution? Should stopping (in reality, slowing) piracy be the government’s responsibility? Perhaps enacting more laws to protect copyright and intellectual property is necessary; but shouldn’t the entertainment industry be doing more on their own to protect the content they produce? You would think the companies in the fields of art and entertainment, inherently creative industries, would be able to find better solutions to this problem. Not to mention that these ridiculously wealthy industries would have the means to develop some new anti-theft measures. And after hearing an NPR news segment last week, it sounds like technology companies would even be willing to help the entertainment biz fight the online pirates. Maybe they’re working on it and I’m just uninformed. Regardless, I just don’t think the private sector should rush to depend on Congress to solve their problems through legislation.
As far as the content of the SOPA and PIPA bills in and of itself - I won’t form a definite opinion until I have the chance to read the actual bills. I have learned that it’s not wise to blindly trust the media’s reporting about anything. It does help to get the news from multiple media sources. Getting a varied opinion helps to neutralize the bias that every (yes, every) news outlet adds to a story. Additionally, the political process in this county has become increasingly frustrating and annoying to me in the past few years. I want to pay attention to issues that could impact my life and rights as an American citizen. However, I’m sure I’m not the only one who barely has the time to sift through the onslaught of information that the media circus publishes non-stop 24/7. And when it comes to government news, I’ve stopped trusting anything our politicians say so I guess that makes media bias almost a non-issue. I don’t usually have the time to research political issues to the extent that I would like, but I hope to make it more of a priority in the future. Distrust in government and media is why I try to read the actual legislation and watch networks like C-SPAN - I try to find the most neutral and pure information that is available out there. It is exhausting though, is this time-consuming process really what it takes to be wisely informed?
And as I discovered earlier today, I’m already behind. The latest news is that SOPA and PIPA have been stalled as a result of last week’s protests. A new bill, HR 3782 has been introduced by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-California) as an alternative. Something else to research…ugh, it never ends! I am glad that Congress is making an attempt to revise the questioned legislation and not just ignoring the protests. I hope that means our political process is working for once, but that remains to be seen. I’m going to be spending some free time I have this evening researching this mess (while also trying to watch the NFL Championship and doing laundry), so I’ll have to follow-up with a more solid opinion in a later post. I hope my multi-tasking skills are up to the challenge.
To be continued…