Tag Archives: free speech

The Stop Online Piracy Act and U.S. Rep Mel Watt

Rep. Watt on Youtube

Rep. Mel Watt during SOPA hearings.

Congress is considering a bill that would place restrictions on the Internet, and Charlotte’s Rep. Mel Watt is one of the co-sponsors. Industry heavyweights like Google have lined up against the bill, which has other heavyweights like the Motion Picture Association of America on the other side.

Watt’s coming under some heat because of his statements during discussions about the bill, which could resurface Dec. 21. He has said, “It’s not worthy for us to be talking about who got bought off by whom.” That statement, of course, sent people to look at his political contributors. Here’s a summary.

From Phoenix Woman at Fire Dog Lake:
“Mel Watt Has Over 130,000 Reasons to Like SOPA.”

Alex Howard, government 2.0 correspondent for O’Reilly Media, reported in real time from the markup hearings on Dec. 15 for the bill. Here are two tweets of his from his @digiphile account, with more than 110,000 followers:

Alex Howard tweet 1

Alex Howard tweet 2

Others responded to Watt’s “I am not a nerd” statement during hearings:
“Dear Congress, It’s No Longer OK To Not Know How The Internet Works.”

Here’s Watt saying, “I am not a nerd,” on Youtube, with reaction.

What the bill does: Lifehacker’s quick version: “All About SOPA: The bill that wants to cripple your Internet, very soon.”

The deep dive on the bill, from Zack Carter at the Huffington Post.

Discussions about the bill could resurface as early as Dec. 21. Here’s where it stands.

Current contributors to Watt’s future campaign efforts include the Communications Workers of America, Microsoft, Cisco, the Motion Picture Association of America, News Corp., Qualcomm, and the Recording Industry Association of America.

Here’s more from OpenSecrets.org on Watt’s campaign finance numbers.


About torture: Our words shape our world, and courage comes from unexpected places

Many people have been talking about the legacy media’s lack of using the word “torture” in recent years.

As we celebrate our country’s independence on a Sunday, I’m reminded of a brave sermon on torture from 2006, during the height of silence.

Courage comes from unlikely places. Or perhaps not.

Repression of free speech fuels the fire

What do a ninth-grader surfing for porn at school and a citizen journalist in Myanmar have in common?

Their Internet surfing and chatting can be kept in check by software from U.S. company Fortinet. The company said two years ago that it would investigate claims that its software was sold to Myanmar in breach of a U.S. embargo. The Open Net Initiative gives details.

While some worry that laziness or boredom will be the death of Web 2.0, I’m confident that repression of free expression will in fact fuel the use of Internet tools just as the American Revolution helped launch the newspapers and pamphleteers of that time. Sure, the conversation will be at times rude and crude, as Leonard Pitts notes. But U.S. leaders wrote the First Amendment because they saw how repression of free speech fuels the fire.

Online and offline reaction encouraged Verizon to retreat from a plan to refuse text messages promoting abortion rights from NARAL.

In other countries, people are using Flickr, Youtube and social networking sites to expose repressive government, and the governments are fighting back.

I’m humming Peter, Paul and Mary, circa 1967.