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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Very Rare Op-Ed on SOPA

I have thought long and hard about writing this, as most who know me are aware, I generally keep my politics out of the spotlight. I prefer to talk of food, of supporting family farmers, and keeping people who wish to work their land on it. But, it greatly bothers me that the forum that I use to discuss that, is itself threatened with censorship. Has it really come to the point where government and industry have so much to fear from us, as individuals, disseminating information, that we now see attempts to institute controls on how we might choose to interact?

We all gain a great deal by the free flow of information, whether we believe or want to hear what others are saying, the exchange of ideas and knowledge is how a society strengthens itself. If we allow government or business to control that information, we allow the erosion of the core of our rights as humans, not just Americans, but as individuals who have an inherent right to self-expression and self-determination. The suspension of any free sourced media will be the creation of censorship at the highest levels, wherein truly free thought is forced underground. It does not matter whether you are conservative or liberal, the erosion of a means of communication that is not controlled by the government or business, should represent the most dire of warnings that these rights are about to be taken away from us. There is no free press, all of our normal news sources are controlled wholly by corporations, our sources of media are constantly being consolidated, there are few independent voices that all of us can hear. Regardless of how we might choose to believe the best society can be achieved, it most certainly does not occur under the control of corporations and government entities.

As a person whose entire career had been to create intellectual property and to see it made real, I am still terribly bothered by the act of creating a legal process whereby a privileged class of entity can pursue the control of an open media source in a manner to protect their profitable gain. I find that despite what these laws might purport, as a small business man and a lifelong creator of intellectual property, when my right to compensation for the use of said property was violated, I did what any true individual entity in this country had to do, I sued the person stealing my property. Why is this no longer acceptable for the people seeking to censor the World Wide Web. The idea that government or business will be able to control how and what information I can create, distribute and trade in, this is the most disturbing thing. Although I primarily create content that is designed for development of landscape and planning, I do not want to think that at some level a precedence has been codified that could lead to my not being able to create in the image that I would choose.

Since it appears that we have come to a time when the individual has become so powerful, that we as consumers and users of the World Wide Web have become so effective as a group, that the largest of corporations must now seek to use our government against us, as a means to control how we act and behave. Perhaps it is time we turned to the powers that be and let them know, that we are tired of the politics of hate and fear, that it is time for us to return to making this country a country of the people and not a country that protects the largest corporations in the world and the largest government in the world from the very people they are meant to serve. Censorship and control of media is the sign of a failing society, where hate and fear, greed and power rule all. In the end, intellectual property and the arts falter. If you wonder how this related to design, or creation of good food, or keeping small farmers on their land, then you truly don’t get it. It is truly too late.

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