So, this Wednesday we will be silent. Our silence will speak volumes, though, about our vehement opposition to the internet censorship bill (PIPA in the Senate and SOPA in the House...such innocuous sounding nicknames for policy with such terrifying implications). We will be standing in quiet solidarity with websites around the country in protest of this insidious attack on freedom of expression. As writers, as women, and as mothers we refuse to be passive in the face of such violent assault on our voices.
Here is a little video to clue you in in case you're not entirely sure what the big deal is:
A year ago, during the Arab Spring, the United States government was outspoken about their dismay at various Middle Eastern governments' censorship of their citizens. Today, on the heels of a growing grassroots movement against the United States government, we find ourselves faced with a government that seeks to enact the very sort of policy they tsk-tsked a year ago. The rhetoric around PIPA and SOPA fronts as a sort of "defense of the entertainment industry" schtick. We know, though, that it is only the latest policy move towards privileging corporations over people, advancing an agenda of grotesque profits and power for a tiny few on the backs of the vast rest of us.
Here is one small example of both the absurdity and the stakes of SOPA/PIPA passing. My niece likes to record herself singing on her computer and then upload her little ditties onto Facebook for her friends and family to hear. She's got a set of pipes, she does, and chutzpa to boot. Her latest offerings have been from Jason Mraz and Adele. And you know what? Though she's adorable beyond description and sings her heart out, I feel confident that no one--NO ONE--has opted not to purchase Adele or Jason Mraz's music because my sweet niece's version hit the spot. She's eleven, after all, and nobody masters her tracks. The idea that Facebook, or Youtube, or even SHE would be sued over this someday makes my blood curdle. Because you know what? What is lost in a world where an eleven year old girl can't sing her heart out in her bedroom and share it with her friends over the internet is more than just the sharing of the song. We lose the sharing of feelings, we lose grasp of a way to connect, to find access to ourselves through words we sometimes can't think of on our own and we lose a vehicle for sharing this part of self or moment of feeling with other people. In a society where we are trained at every turn to self-censor--to wear only the right clothes, to offer appropriate feelings, to desire only certain bodies--the idea that we would further strip away freedom of expression--and on a policy level, no less!--is appalling.
You've read Fahrenheit 459, right? Let's stand up before freedom of expression is just a pile of ash.
Here are links to a few websites. Some have links for emailing your local representatives, others have informative breakdowns of the operations of PIPA/SOPA. If you know of any others, please share them in the comments section below.