Earlier today I posted a photograph of tiffins–round metal containers that are used around here as lunchpails. But then I had a moment where I thought “wait, what if they’re not called tiffins!” So I went to look up “tiffin” on wikipedia, my source for most of my knowledge and what Stephen Colbert called “truthiness.”
Wikipedia, among others, is staging a protest to raise awareness about two bills being discussed in the US Congress today–SOPA and PIPA. They sound sort of like Spanish restaurants, don’t they, where you might get a sangria and some tapas?
Nope. SOPA is the Stop Online Piracy Act and PIPA is Protect IP Act (click here for more, or here). Both pieces of legislation would allow the government to shut down entire sites if even one piece of content is thought to violate copyright–but violations don’t need to be proven to be removed. The mere allegation of violation is enough to get a site shut down. Marvin Ammori points out that if SOPA and PIPA are passed, “aspects of the legislation would make… State Department-sponsored free-speech technology illegal in the United States.” Isn’t irony like that supposed to be solely the purview of Colbert and Stewart?
I live in a country where websites, twitter feeds, and video feeds are routinely blocked for one reason or another. It’s only when I’m in the bubble created by the university where I teach that I can access any material I want. Does the United States really want to implement legislation that would be more repressive than the Emirates’ laws? Or China’s?
And more importantly, the next time that Caleb asks me about the Egyptian god Anubis, or Liam wants to know precisely how fast the water is rising around the Maldives, or when I want to know what a tiffin is, or if I need a giggle and want to watch Michelle Bachman try to answer policy questions…what will I do? I mean, forget your larger political issues and pesky crap like freedom of speech. If this legislation skates through on the rhetoric of the Far Right, then I’m going to look stupid in front of my kids. And that just won’t do.