On Wednesday, January 18, 2012 we blacked out all 14 blogs in the Boles Blogs Network as part of a wide and grand protest against the SOPA/PIPA threat.
We gladly joined that blackout because, on December 29, 2011 — in an article titled Staring Down the SOPA Threat from the Public Square — I wrote this call to action:
If you don’t want SOPA to see the light of day — forget Washington. Pressure the companies that support SOPA. Hit them with a cudgel they understand: Losing your money and ruining their reputation in the marketplace. Don’t give your money to pro-SOPA companies. Write about pro-SOPA companies and humiliate them in the public square of human opinion. It is your moral duty to stand up for free speech and crush the censorship that creeps upon you to silence your hands and ears and eyes.
The blackout day was a great success on many levels. For the first time, the internet communicate came together as one to protest a direct assault on public speech — and it was an honor to be involved in standing up for the right thing.
Now, the 14-blog strong Boles Blogs Network wear black “Stop Censorship” protest ribbons until January 24, 2012. We may have won the moment, but we will rue the day. We have made the giants angry. We failed to kill the King.
We know SOPA and PIPA will be back. The new versions of those bills will be just as mean and just as punishing. Will the internet be able to stand up together as one again? Or do those who support online censorship have money and Congress and time to burn until they are able to press the day?
If we are now able to detain and jail American citizens without cause — I don’t have much hope that the freedom of expression we now enjoy online will last much longer. The tamping down of our online rights will come in quiet patters, discrete re-directs and petty silences and unpopular speech will be regulated and removed — as if it had never existed in the first place.
We live in a dark and threatening hollow — and I wonder how many people can see in the dark that any light finding us is controlled by politics and money — and once that little bit of warmth is taken from us, we will all effectively be under total control of a totalitarian regime pretending during the day to love freedom while covertly, at night, under the cover of an ever-deepening dark, the very lifeblood of expression is finally squeezed from our tiny, dead, bodies.
I have hope that freedom will triumph in the end. Hope I’m not too disappointed!
I hope you’re right, Gordon. I started writing this article as a celebration of the protest, and then I started thinking about the people who “lost.” They don’t take lightly not getting their way, and they will not be defeated — and that means we’re going to have to face these powerful enemies over and over again.