Jon Stewart Promises To Study Up On SOPA

from the internet-has-asked... dept

Well, this is kind of cool. A Reddit user got some VIP passes to go see the taping of The Daily Show on Wednesday evening… and asked Reddit what he should ask Jon Stewart about SOPA/PIPA if he could. And… at the pre-show Q&A, he was able to say:

“the internet sent me to ask you what you think of SOPA and why you haven’t mentioned it on the show.”

Stewart basically admitted he hadn’t heard of it, asked if it had anything to do with net neutrality, and then admitted that they all “had their heads up their asses” due to focusing on election stuff. However, he apparently also looked at one of the show’s writers, and promised to research the issue.

And then… in the opening to the show Stewart actually cracked a joke about it (video below), where he joked that the next night’s guest would be “the internet” and then said “we’ll be all SOPA what?!?” and then noted:

Here’s all I’ll say about that: I’ve got some reading to catch up on…

Please do, Jon. Please do.

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Comments on “Jon Stewart Promises To Study Up On SOPA”

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Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“Putting a stop to that wasn’t censorship, it was common courtesy and good taste.”

Ah ha! I’ve been spending a better part of my time recently trying to figure out what the difference between tasteful exclusion and censorship is, and thankfully you’ve come along to provide me a worthy answer. Apparently, that answer amounts to: if some of us think we’re going to stop some others of us from being offended, then it magically doesn’t count as censorship.

What Comedy Central did in censoring Parker/Stone in that episode was a travesty of cowardice. Censorship doesn’t stop being censorship just because it appeases folks who believe in one invisible friend or the other, and that goes for ALL religions, not just Islam….

BTW, as an aside, while I try to be understanding of people’s faith in general, if you’re prophet or diety somehow loses power or respect by being depicted in ANY way, then either your diety sucks and you should find a new, more photogenic God, or your religion is horribly mis-prioritized, in which case your God probably hates you more then any infidel you can dream up….

xenomancer (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I’ve been spending a better part of my time recently trying to figure out what the difference between tasteful exclusion and censorship is

I find this highly offensive! Furthermore, ████████ to ███████ ██████, █████ █████ is not ██████ ██████ ████. It has █████ in a █████ of █████████ █████ ██████████ ████ 45 BC, ██████ it ████ ████ █████ old. ███████ ██████████, a █████ █████████ at ███████-██████ ███████ in ████████, ██████ up one of the ████ ███████ █████ █████, ███████████, ████ a █████ █████ ███████, and █████ ███████ the █████ of the ████ in █████████ ██████████, ██████████ the ███████████ ██████. █████ █████ █████ ████ ████████ 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 of “de ███████ ███████ et ███████” (The ████████ of ████ and ████) by ██████, ███████ in 45 BC. ████ ████ is a ████████ on the ██████ of ██████, ████ ███████ ██████ the ███████████. The █████ ████ of █████ █████, “█████ █████ █████ sit ████..”, █████ ████ a ████ in ███████ 1.10.32.

The ████████ █████ of █████ █████ ████ █████ the █████ is ██████████ █████ for █████ ██████████. ████████ 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 ████ “de ███████ ███████ et ███████” by ██████ are ████ ██████████ in █████ █████ ████████ ████, ███████████ by ███████ ████████ ████ the ████ ███████████ by H. ███████!

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

If no one can show a picture of Muhammad, how do we know what he looks like? Maybe it was Muhammad in the bunny suit. Maybe he just so happens to look exactly like the Coca Cola style Santa Claus. How can we be offended by a picture of something if we don’t know what that something looks like?

Machin Shin (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

You know I really hate to come up and pop your little utopia bubble, BUT that was still censorship. Just because what was censored was offensive to some people does not turn censorship into “courtesy and good taste”.

I might not agree with what someone does or says but I am not going to censor them. A prime example would be that I personally hate the westborro baptist church and what they do, BUT I would fight for their right to go out and do what they do.

That is what freedom of speech is. The right to go out and say whatever you want no matter who it upsets. I will fight for peoples right to do just that even if I don’t agree with what they have to say. I just hope others will stand with me and fight for my right to say whatever the hell I want as well.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Yes it was “Censorship”, but by a private company over a their own network. Comedy Central could have aired it, the government was not stopping them. They made a choice about what content they wanted to air. Now given their decision, the creators of South Park COULD have dissolved their exclusive contract with Comedy Central and gone to another private network that was willing to air it, created their own startup network and aired it themselves or turned to the internet.

This is not **Censorship**, South Park had the freedom to release the show unedited, just not on their propriety privately owned network.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

I respect you greatly DH, but this is where I believe many others have it wrong. I don’t believe the tag “censorship” applies if it is not enabled by the government. I believe that businesses and individuals can do whatever they want with their property or commercial endeavors, including choosing not to air/offer/whatever certain content no matter how ignorant or foolish.

Said differently, there is nothing ethically wrong with choosing not to air/offer certain content, because I as a consumer, can choose to not consume their other content or frequent their business. I have no recourse with the government.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

I don’t believe the tag “censorship” applies if it is not enabled by the government.

It’s unfortunate you don’t believe that, but in order to have a rational discussion about this, one pretty much has use the universally accepted definition of words.

You believing that “censorship” only equates to “censorship by the government” doesn’t really change the definitions of the words themselves. Censorship by a corporation or an individual is still censorship, it just doesn’t go against the Constitution.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

I believe that businesses and individuals can do whatever they want with their property or commercial endeavors, including choosing not to air/offer/whatever certain content no matter how ignorant or foolish.

This is true. This is also still censorship. That is why you can “censor yourself” and not say **** or **** in front of small children or in public web fora. It’s still censorship. Whether you think it’s wrong or whether it should be allowed may be a topic of debate, but it’s censorship no matter how you slice it.

Almost everyone is against Government censorship. Unless it’s nipples at a football game halftime show or a shapely butt on a police drama.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

I can live with that, but I really think it clouds the issue. In my mind, censorship only applies if there was an ethical obligation to not censor or otherwise restrict the material. Commercial businesses and individuals have no such ethical obligation.

However, as you said, it may be extremely ignorant or cowardly or both.

SomeGuy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

In my mind, censorship only applies if there was an ethical obligation to not censor or otherwise restrict the material. Commercial businesses and individuals have no such ethical obligation.

But I don’t think that’s true. I think the ethics of a thing extends beyond Government vs Corporate, or even Public vs Private, and transcends discussions of legal vs illegal. Something can be ethical and illegal — just make a bad law. And in the same way something can be unethical and legal! Philosophers have been talking about what is and is not ethical for millenia, so you’ll have to excuse me if I’m not compelled by your dismissal that ethics doesn’t play into it because it was a corporate entity doing so.

By your line, we should have no problem at all with the fact that none of them are discussing SOPA. Unless you think that newscasters should be held to a higher standard of ethics than satirists.

xenomancer (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Remember, just prior to its occurrence, speaking of revolution in the 13 American colonies was considered treason, punishable by death. The most abhorrent of speech is still protected specifically to allow the common person to share their beliefs, no matter how distasteful or revolutionary they may be. This includes stick/paper/animated figures with an arrow/label/shirt/dialogue pointing out “muhammad.”

xenomancer (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

There’s a reason this one came first.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:—-000-.html

There are limits to free speech, including yelling Fire in a crowded theater and overthrow of the government.

Machin Shin (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

Ahh, the fun of laws. It is illegal to talk about overthrowing the government but if it is my plan to overthrow the government then why do I care about their laws? Really if you read those though I can talk about overthrowing the government all I want. The key is that I cannot talk about doing so with violence. At least those sections I just read all clearly stated by violent means.

So I can sit here and say that I would like to get together a group of people and go have a peaceful march on Washington where we are going to take over.

Sadly we all know that it would just end with a peaceful march nothing would change though.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

You do realize that talk of overthrowing the government is still illegal and considered treason, right?

Not quite.

My take from the decision on Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969) is that such speech is protected by the Constitution unless it is “…directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or cause such action”

Advocating the overthrow of the government in general is protected speech, but, when you start getting into specifics of such an action, not so much.

Butcherer79 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

You do realize that talk of overthrowing the government is still illegal and considered treason, right?

Does this mean that election campaigns are illegal too? I’m pretty sure all opposition parties talk of overthrowing the current government, don’t they?
This could mean that voting for the losing party (or just the party that’s not in power) is also illegal.

xenomancer (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

(Fair warning, all links are to lmgtfy searches… I was bored)

Why, with the NDAA signed into law, the next president could even detain all the people who (stupidly admit they) voted against him and could be the first president since Washington to be asked to accept the crown as the first king of the USA.


Cowardly Anon says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Ok, have you seen South Park? Good taste isn’t what they are selling with that show. They make fun of EVERYTHING in a tasteless way. It is crude, offensive humor, and I have a feeling that people who would have been offended by the that one episode probably are offended by ALL their episodes and were not fans or the target audience that the show is aimed at.

So I’m sorry, but your thin facade of ‘it was a common courtesy b/c someone would have been offended’ is complete and other nonsense. B/c if someone being offended is all it takes to block something in “good taste”, then the entire South Park series would be blocked.

Stop feeling good about censorship b/c it makes you feel better and more comfortable when people aren’t allowed to say something that might offend. One day, you might find yourself on the receiving end of such censorship, and you will only have yourself to blame.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

His argument is that Viacom/Comedy Central acted in good taste, not South Park, and that makes it OK because it was Viacom/Comedy Central’s network.

Essentially, we should have no problem with Censorship if it’s done by private entities regarding their property or services. I’m not sure how much I can agree with that.

Bengie says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

It’s been a long while since History class, but I think the issue with Islam isn’t that you can’t ever depict Muhammad, but not to do so in an idolized way. They didn’t want his image being worshiped.

This may not reflect modern Islam, but I’m pretty sure that was the original writings/law.

There is LOTS of old scripts that depict Muhammad and were not unlawful hundreds of years ago.

Spaceboy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Doesn’t matter what the reason is. It’s still censorship. And, I would like to point out, that the FIRST time they put Muhammad in South Park no one said anything and Comedy Central aired it in its entirety. No one was killed or hurt or threatened.

Lots of things are against lots of religions. If the religion of peace can’t take criticism without issuing fatwa’s then you know, maybe they deserve that criticism.

Comedy Central didn’t want to deal with whatever backlash may or may not have happened as a result of Muhammad being drawn.

Viacom and Comedy Central also don’t want to deal with the anti-SOPA crowd. They are now in a tough spot because they know that once informed, Jon Stewart’s audience will be 99% against SOPA.

It is no longer business as usual. The Internet is an incredible place and if people are allowed to express themselves freely then regimes can fall, countries might change and power will be given back to the people regardless of where they live. Is it any wonder that the only support SOPA can get is from astroturf campaigns, corporations or industry?

SOPA is a step backwards for America. It will give more power to the government and corporate America.

This is what Viacom and the government want. They want to do the thinking for us and tell us what is good and bad, funny and not funny and right and wrong.

They want to make everything doubleplus good.

It will be interesting to see how Jon handles SOPA.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Then why allow depictions of people eating sausages? Or allow sex scenes? Where does it stop?

IMO, any law is censorship, and the fact that people are censored at all offends me. If I were to found a religion where paws were at the same level of offense as burning the religion’s holy text, I’d be mocked mercilessly.

So “good taste” doesn’t wash for me.

Rekrul says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Bad analogy. Drawing pictures of their religious leaders is a big no-no in Islam and I think a couple of other religions, and I mean really, burn-a-Bible-in-public big. Putting a stop to that wasn’t censorship, it was common courtesy and good taste.

And yours is a bad analogy as well.

Burning a bible in public sparks harsh words and maybe a protest if it’s known about in advance.

Depicting Muhammad results in riots and death threats from wackjob islamic fanatics.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The important point is that Stewart postures himself as somewhat independent from Viacom itself. While he obviously has obligations through his contract, I can’t see him taking it very well if Comedy Central did attempt to censor him.

That, and this could finally result in TV air time for SOPA concerns, which has been somewhat lacking.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Keep in mind

Specifically for that video?

Yes .

Damn! I’m trying to help. From here I can’t tell, and can’t find a transcript.

Thanks for you efforts – I guess – I’d have to go through them one by one.

Some of those shows are broadcast over here (by Ch4 I think) and would be available here by the catch up service. However finding a specific clip is likely to be very time consuming.

This really does underline the stupidity going on here – the video is available – it’s just that getting it will take around an hour of my time – which just kills the utility of the whole thing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Keep in mind

Don’t know where you are but if you succeed, there is a more from the same episode which together take up almost half the show…—danny-goldberg—jonathan-zittrain

or watch for the 12-01-11 episode with Richard Branson as featured guest.

FM Hilton (profile) says:

Stewart on SOPA

Could be a great thing-he’s got the audience and the power to make it a real issue.
The only problem is that he’s employed by a company that supports SOPA, and I’m sure that he likes his job, money, and perks.

I wonder if he’ll be that courageous-and will actually speak up about/against it.

Who knows? But I’m betting he will not only ‘read up on it’ but will deliver the worthy diatribe he’s capable of.

After all, he hates stupid politicians with a passion and this should be right up his alley.

anonymous says:

yet another attempt by the industries to keep the information about what will happen to the ‘net’, how bad it will be for everyone from actually being given to everyone. when they have to employ such tactics, it’s obvious how bad the bill is and how it will serve only those that are pushing it forward. i must admit that i am curious as to whether Stewart will be allowed to discuss the bill, be allowed to have anyone on the show other than those that support it, let alone tell the truth about it given who he works for

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

copyright will forever be expanded, never reduced.

Yeah, but why?

I’ve proposed a public choice theory explanation. Other commenters here at Techdirt (thanks) propose that it’s because of an ?entitlement culture.?

Why is copyright a one-way ratchet? Always tightening, never loosening. Why is, say, repealing the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act a complete ?laughable? political impossibility.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Why is copyright a one-way ratchet? Always tightening, never loosening. Why is, say, repealing the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act a complete ?laughable? political impossibility.

Maybe it isn’t?

Just because it hasn’t happened so far doesn’t mean it can’t – although I admit that the international dimension is a big problem.

Rekrul says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Why is copyright a one-way ratchet? Always tightening, never loosening. Why is, say, repealing the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act a complete ?laughable? political impossibility.

Because the majority of politicians are corrupt and will do whatever the corporations with the biggest wallets tell them to do. The media corporations don’t want copyright reduced, so the politicians that they bribe don’t want copyright reduced.

Until you can find a way to completely end “lobbying”, you won’t see a reduction in copyright.

Anonymous Coward says:

– Comes down to Money(Ie cash, bread, wonga, green). Big business who are reliant on long copyrights have a lot of cash to buy influence.
– Political motivation, is copyright lenghts precieved to be a major issues for the general public at large. (Nope). This might change in the future as younger generations have access to the internet with changing habits.

Other reasons might come to me if i have a further think.

Butcherer79 (profile) says:


Is this Jon Stewart fella really risque, or is he the same as most ‘Shock-Jock’ DJ’s?
Most of the latter are paid to appear to be against ‘the machine/industry/rich’; the problem being, they’re still paid by ‘the machine/industry/rich’ and you can bet your bottom dollar that there’s only certain levels they can go to.
I’m not sure what annoys me more, the fact that the bosses of these Shock-Jock types think Mr & Mrs Public are stupid enough to believe they’re against their own industry; or the fact that a lot of the listeners actually are…

I-Blz says:

Re: Shock-Jock-esque?

His cynicism and wit are genuine, for sure, and he calls out everyones idiocy, not just one party or another. He’s gone against Viacom’s wishes before, and, unlike Colbert, who is putting on a MASSIVE persona, he just, well, talks. He hates stupidity, and will seek it out and make you hurt for it. He will have a FIELD DAY with this, despite Viacom’s support of the bill.

another AC says:

Stewart talking to audience??

I like Jon Stewart. I liked his stand up, I like his show(s).
I’ve had VIP passes to 2 tapings ( once each 2009, 2010) – and in both cases, Jon did not deal with the audience at all.

Maybe the poster had VIP-er passes than mine, but all I got was front-of-the line, seated to Jon’s right just off camera.

echo: Yes – Colbert has brought up SOPA and Protect-IP.

Anonymous Coward says:

I would like to know! I hope he provides a stance!

For an example, there is a lot of fans of Stewart and Colbert that make fan art/avatars to use on the message boards.

The clips used on the avatars were done by purchasing the show from iTunes, and then using software to crop and reduce to make a functional avatar.

In my eyes, fair use.

In SOPA’s eyes, I could totally get lambasted for it.

I wanna know…..

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: "Tomorrow night our guest will be.."

Contrary to popular methodologies…..he will actually research before he just tosses something out there.

No only does he have to find out about the subject, but also has to create jokes about it…and do it in a way in which he’s not hung out to dry by either ‘the internet’ or ‘the lawyers’.

firefly (profile) says:

Can you imagine Stewart getting Pat Leahy on as a guest? He could ask Senator Leahy if he likes Gilfeather turnips (developed in Vermont and very popular here). Does he know the story about how the developer of the Gilfeather turnip cut the tops and bottoms of them before selling them so no one else could grow them? (He probably does.) Then remark, sounds like digital rights management (DRM) for the 19th century to me.

Then Jon could say something like “You are so passionate about piracy because for you it is a moral issue. So, if John Gilfeather never gave permission to grow (or copy) these rutabagas, is it wrong to sell them and eat them? Why?” It gets a little hard to imagine how the conversation will proceed at this point, but I think you can see where we’re headed now.

In my dreams, we can turn Leahy, in my dreams…

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