As December is a time for ending, New Years is a time for beginnings. A time to restart and renew. But do not discard the old to herald the new. As the 2011 calendars thunk into the trash can, do not throw the battles of the year past in with them.
You are here.
Whether you have wandered in for a moment before rushing off to something more important, whether you have been here for hours, or days, or years just moseying around the net, whether you prefer the open highways of popular social networks and sites or the back roads, the dark places of the internet, whether you come here for the people or come here to escape the people, whether you are here because you love it or because you need it, you are here.
This is our home–part of it anyway.
And do not forget the year that necessitated that protection. Do not forget 2011. Do not forget those who sought to bring our home under iron rule. Do not forget those who would have brought its citizens to their knees. And do not forget who fought to save it. Do not forget who chose to stand.
By now, everyone has heard of the disaster that was GoDaddy’s support of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and how they sunk on the iceberg of internet rage. If you didn’t, here’s the ten second version: GoDaddy supported (and indeed helped create) SOPA. When this was revealed, their customers and other outraged netizens revolted and the company withdrew their…
They didn’t withdraw their support. They withdrew their support of the bill as is. Let’s be clear: they still support martial law of the internet. They still support axing individuals and political dissidents from the internet under the guise of the war on “rogue websites” and “piracy.” For those on the other side of the planet who might not recognize what they are seeing, this is called censorship, and GoDaddy supports it. They just don’t support the current plan for it.
But do not forget: there are others who aren’t even that “smart.”
Dozens of other.
Too many others. The list of SOPA Supporters* goes on for a distressing three and a half pages. But battle requires focus. Since this blog is for readers and writers, let’s talk books. Let’s talk publishers. Let’s talk the five out of the “Big Six” publishers that support SOPA. They are:
And one of the bigger-but-not-quite-big-six, Hyperion.
Like writers, publishers should hold freedom of speech sacred. It is, after all, down to them to preserve and protect the written word, transmit written culture, and give those with compelling voices a box on which to stand.
Do not forget: in 2011, they failed. They turned on their readers, on their writers and sought–indeed, still seek–to leash culture through harsh legislation.
Something must be done to make Harper Collins the next GoDaddy, to make Hachette the next GoDaddy, to make RandomHouse the next GoDaddy, to make Macmillan the next GoDaddy, to make Penguin USA the next GoDaddy, to make Hyperion the next GoDaddy.
What? I don’t know. I”ll let you know when I figure it out.
And I will.
Because I learned something this Christmas. GoDaddy, not too wise when it comes to PR, taught me something about business. They taught me why a business would go from hailing censorship to distancing themselves from it. Not because censorship is the enemy of a free society. Not because they, as a promenant internet company, wanted to protect the netizens from the abomination of SOPA. Rather, because the open wallets of their customers were snapping shut on their fingers. Had the net remained silent on GoDaddy’s betrayal–and we must always fear that the compliance, apathy or ignorance of people will one day keep them silent–the company would have kept waving the SOPA flag, high and proud.
Do not forget: they did it to save their profit.
I am disappointed beyond words in the six publishers that have put their names behind this legislation, but even if they withdrew their support, I would not celebrate. Even if every single one of them withdrew their support for SOPA, it would only demonstrate one thing: that their concern for profit is greater than their concern for a free internet.
Therefore, let anyone still with GoDaddy not be mollified by their false apologies.
And let Hachette, Harper Collins, Macmillan, Penguin, Random House, and Hyperion reap the rewards of betraying the freedoms they were trusted to protect.
Let 2011 be the year we never forget, and 2012 the year we never forgive.
*Funnily enough, the official list has been removed by some morons at judiciary.house.gov who don’t realize that hiding things on the internet is really that easy. It is not. Many copies of this list exist online. Make more.