Right now, the Internet is all aflame over SOPA/PIPA, and it’s easy to see why. Restrictions of freedom are scary, and for good reason. It’s just one step down a very bad path that, if left unchecked, can lead to dictatorships. But the way I see it, we, as a society, have landed ourselves here.
I have two real beefs to air here, and they both revolve around the fact that over time, we have let this happen.
Firstly, why are people so surprised that the bigger the government gets, and the more power we give it, the more it wants to take? I was taught during high school, when learning about various forms of government, that when it comes to government, you have this scale that runs from freedom to safety. If you want a small government that will basically leave you alone, and have complete freedom, you will have to waive some of your feelings of safety. It makes sense. The smaller the government, the smaller the protection. If you want freedom, you have to take some of your protection into your own hands. If you want complete safety, with a larger government to protect you from harm and wrongdoing, you will have to give up some of your freedom, because they can’t protect you if you can do whatever you want.
Now, obviously, this is oversimplified, and I am not trying to state this as literal fact, but it’s a concept that I think is true. The less responsibility we want to take for our own well-being, the more we have to give that responsibility to someone or something else. The logical choice many people make in that circumstance is the government. And of course, the more power you give the government, and the more you ask for regulation, the more and more it will do and the less freedom you really have.
So with that being the case, why are we so shocked that when some very vocal groups start crying that they’re losing money because bad people are stealing their property, and asking the government for help, the government responds with something like SOPA? Of course it wants more power! That’s the nature of a bigger government! We’ve let it get so big and powerful that it really is starting to get scary. And that’s the real key here, that we LET it happen! The people had the power to elect our government, and we started electing people who wanted to shift that power to them. The people still do have the power, but we have become so complacent in our perceived “safety” that we’ve neglected to realize we’ve sacrificed freedom for it. We just listen to the news and vote for whoever makes us the prettiest promises and/or makes their opponent look the worst. We believe the slander, we let them dig into each other’s personal lives for the same skeletons most American citizens have in our own closets, and when the dust has settled, have we really elected the best choice?
And that brings me right into my second point. At what point did representatives fail to represent? One of the original colonists’ big beefs with being colonies of England was that they had no say in the running of the government, and were taxed unfairly without any voice in the matter. Part of the setup of the original American government was to have elected representatives that would, big surprise, REPRESENT the wishes of the people of the community they hailed from. They were actual working people who had lives and friends and family outside of the capital, whose entire livelihoods did not revolve around getting elected and re-elected, and giving themselves insane paychecks.
I really do want to study this, because I don’t know when it happened, but at some point, our paradigm has apparently shifted, because these days, everyone in politics is a freaking lawyer, and they’re all “career politician”. Well, when the hell did THAT become a legitimate profession? If this country were truly run the way it was intended, there would be no such thing as SOPA, for one of two reasons. One reason would be that it would never have been brought up, because it wouldn’t be the government’s job to regulate music and movies. Or a second reason would be that even if such a travesty of a bill WERE to be introduced, the utter outrage that the American citizenship is currently displaying would send a clear enough message that not a single representative would dare to vote for it and it would die a quick death.
The mere fact that we are STILL having to contact representatives and sign petitions and protest as much as we are is a sad commentary on the state of our government, when it feels like the people are having to twist the arms of our representatives to make them vote the way we want them to vote on a bill that should never even exist in the first place!
I mean, I don’t even watch the news or read much about politics, but even I can tell how frightening this is! This has been a huge wake-up call for me about exactly how much power our government has already wrested from the people, and if SOPA and/or PIPA actually passes, it will only go to show that our “representatives” don’t represent us at all.
I also would be very surprised if many incumbent representatives get re-elected this year, whether SOPA passes or not. I think we really could do with a good house cleaning. The problem is that being a “politician” these days is almost synonymous with being a lawyer who doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the people, and the people who’d probably make good representatives are likely not seeking the position.
America, we are seriously way too far down a very dark path. It’s not too late, but it will require a LOT less apathy, a LOT more work, and possibly a little less safety, but if we don’t do something, I don’t like what that’ll mean for our future. And I’m not a political alarmist, usually, I’m just scared by what I see is happening right now.