FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
SOPA and PROTECT IP/PIPA: An Update
We celebrated Monday when House Majority Leader Eric Cantor effectively signaled the death of SOPA, the Stopping Online Piracy Act. Cantor said the Internet censorship bill would not see a vote until there was consensus on the matter. As long as Darrell Issa, Justin Amash, and Jason Chaffetz are on the case there will be no consensus on sweeping Internet censorship, so Cantor’s position basically kills SOPA this Congress.
This was a well earned victory for conservatives, and we owe the above allies thanks for sticking up for our values against formidable opposition. Barack Obama refused to pledge a SOPA veto even in the face of a massive petition from his supporters. Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith sponsored the bill, and notable tech leaders like Marsha Blackburn co-sponsored it. Well-funded groups like AFL-CIO, MPAA, and RIAA all lined up behind it.
It took everything we had to be heard on this. Our movement could hold nothing back. Erick Erickson himself had to threaten a primary challenge to Blackburn, and he was right to do it. But we got our way, and we should be glad.
But today, as SOPA protests go on across the Internet, we should be aware that there are a few lingering pockets of resistance, and be mindful of them.
It all goes back to May 2011. RedState started work early against a new bill, called PROTECT IP (now being called PIPA in parallel with SOPA). Even as the administration was ramming Net Neutrality Internet regulation through the FCC, the RedState community knew that Net Neutrality wasn’t just a threat in itself, but it was also a stepping stone to bigger, more intrusive Internet controls.
It was true, too. Net Neutrality passed, and no matter how loudly we cried out, no matter how hard Kay Bailey Hutchison pleaded for the Senate to take up the Net Neutrality repeal that House Republicans passed, it remained. And with the Internet already regulated, why not try for more?
So Patrick Leahy’s PROTECT IP bill grew in support, gaining shocking co-sponsors like Marco Rubio. Why a TEA Party Senator would want to give dictatorial Internet censorship powers to Eric Holder, I have no idea. If not for Ron Wyden’s obstruction of the bill, it might have been worse yet.
But Wyden did block the bill, and so PROTECT IP came to the House under the name of SOPA. Leahy’s idea found a Republican champion in Lamar Smith, and the bill backed by disgraced former Senator Chris Dodd’s MPAA brought in even more disappointing Republican sponsors. Marsha Blackburn has been a hero against Internet regulation, but she for some reason cosponsored SOPA.
We at RedState complained and complained, for months highlighting this bill and its dangers. But as with Net Neutrality, allies were few and far between. But slowly, we grew the coalition. Erick Erickson joined my primary threats, and Darrell Issa put together a crack team of liberty-loving Republicans to make some noise. Together we made people realize how bad this bill really was.
Now, suddenly, the whole Internet was screaming about SOPA. People who mocked and scorned us for months suddenly were rushing to be on our side. However unlike us, they put no pressure on their own side to do right on SOPA and PROTECT IP. Barack Obama, despite making no promise to veto SOPA, endures no criticism. Senate Democrats are left free of consequences to force a vote on PROTECT IP. Judiciary Ranking Member John Conyers and other House Democrats vote for SOPA’s censorship and are free of public censure.
Conyers in fact laughably said “The notion that this bill threatens freedom of information is insupportable,” but what has the left done? They free ride on our primary threats by joining in on our attacks on Lamar Smith, whose picture is prominent in the Wikipedia page for SOPA. But today we continue to name and shame Republicans like Smith, Rubio, and Blackburn for their roles in supporting SOPA and PROTECT IP.
We stand and demand electoral consequences for censoring the Internet. That takes time, effort, and money, and I’m glad our community is a coalition of the willing.
Today I thank the RedState community for working, for joining our effort and applying the pressure it took to get Eric Cantor to come down on SOPA. I’m glad RedState’s community is here, because if Cantor ever backslides and SOPA becomes a risk to pass, we’ll need a full team effort once again.
We’ll need action if SOPA starts to move again. RedState is online today not because we support SOPA, but because somebody had to do the heavy lifting to defeat SOPA, and that’s what we were part of. Thank you, RedStaters, for getting that done. Thank you Darrell Issa, Justin Amash, Jason Chaffetz, and other House members for getting this done. Thank you Orrin Hatch and other Senate Republicans for demanding against the odds that Harry Reid should stop his insistence on jamming PROTECT IP through the Senate.
But most of all thank you, RedStaters, for showing up for small government and an open Internet even when it’s not the cool thing to do so.