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Posted on Techdirt - 14 January 2012 @ 12:00pm

The Logician's Favorite Techdirt Posts Of The Week

Greetings. I have been invited to share this week’s digest of favorite posts — in this case, mine — and as the logical choice was, of course, to accept, I have chosen to do so. In thinking about how to proceed, I have arrived at the conclusion that to effectively reach and deter those who would threaten our fundamental rights, we must first understand how they think, and why it is that they do so. I have, therefore, selected a number of posts, which, I believe, help to illustrate the fallacies and shortsightedness by which they operate, as well as the motivations which drive them. Let us begin:

First is textbook example of government/corporate propaganda — one which should be saved for future study in understanding the difference between such posturing and actual, ethical journalism. It comes in the form of a video released by ICE in which they congratulate themselves on the numerous incidents of censorship they were responsible for last year, while making multiple dishonest and highly illogical claims and omissions, all of which Mike clearly illustrates and dissects. Such as ICE’s deceptions about job losses, conflations between counterfeiting and infringement, the yearlong censorship of, and their inability to admit that the PSA that they used on the sites they censored was, in fact, made by Universal.

A recent study has confirmed what many of us already know: mainstream media news outlets have all but completely ignored SOPA/PIPA. This is, of course, logical in that these news outlets are owned by the very mega-corporations which support these laws. It also highlights how neutered the mainstream media has become in that they no longer answer to us, but only to those in power and will no longer make an honest effort to keep them in check despite that being the original mandate of their existence. It is but one facet of the merger of corporation and state that has taken place in this country.

Rep. Lamar Smith’s continuing and irrational deafness to all opposition to SOPA has recently resulted in the creation of a poster illustrating this very point. His unwillingness to admit just how widespread the opposition actually is merely shows where his loyalties and interests truly lie — himself. However, as Mike has pointed out, ignoring such opposition will not cause it to disappear. Rather, it continues to grow on an almost daily basis, despite the state of denial in which Smith and his fellow SOPA supporters continually exist.

Another group that exists in a perpetual denial of reality is the TSA. They recently posted their list of top ten catches for 2011, not one of which was an actual terrorist. They boast about accomplishing, in reality, nothing, in a vain attempt to justify their own existence. But as anyone who has followed their actions over the last several years with a clear and logical mind understands, they crossed that line long ago. Even the founder of the TSA has admitted that the organization is a failure. Yet this parasitic organization is allowed to live on due to government hysteria over a threat that is far less of a danger to anyone than they will ever admit. That and the desire for control, a trait they share with those who support SOPA/PIPA and other laws like them.

Desperation is another characteristic of SOPA/PIPA supporters and copyright maximalists, as was shown at CES this week. Sandra Aistars from the Copyright Alliance spent much of her time at the SOPA/PIPA panel — which Mike, himself, attended — invoking vague and broad talking points, accusing those who challenged her of the very same empty rhetoric and hyberbole she herself was consistently using. Much as politicians do, she relied on nonanswers and doublespeak rather than actually addressing the questions asked of her. She did not even seem to realize that the very sites which SOPA/PIPA were designed to target are immune to the bills due to their own convoluted language.

SOPA supporters also tend to exhibit a hypocrisy rivaled only by that of politicians, of which many are one and the same. For instance, an opinion piece in the Salt Lake Tribune pointed to by the MPAA and its lobbying front/astroturf group CreativeAmerica, was actually in large part copied directly from statements made by other pro-SOPA lobbyists and remixed to form the op-ed. This behavior is not wrong in and of itself, and yet SOPA supporters wish to criminalize it. They partake of the very behavior they claim to oppose, which merely illustrates that they have little to no understanding of human nature or the nature of creativity. Their motives, then, do not involve the preservation of creative works, but rather the preservation of their bank accounts.

Lastly, even libraries have begun to come under fire, through no fault of their own. The major publishers have been supporting SOPA/PIPA, and, in so doing, have deliberately begun attempting to limit what libraries can do. These publishers have begun steadily withdrawing the access to free content which libraries have traditionally provided. In contrast to libraries’ fundamental purpose, they wish instead to commercialize them and replace the traditional structure with a rental model which they would undoubtedly seek to control. As I see it, any attack on libraries is an attack on knowledge itself and cannot be allowed to stand.

We have seen that the maximalist mindset which drives those who support SOPA, PIPA, and laws like them is one driven by deception, denial, greed, hypocrisy, and an irrational need for control. C.S. Lewis once observed in The Magician’s Nephew that “the trouble with making yourself stupider than you really are is that you very often succeed.” Humans have an uncanny capacity for convincing themselves of almost anything, as Lewis’ Uncle Andrew character clearly illustrates. Andrew did not wish to believe that Aslan and the Narnian animals could talk, and he believed it so strongly that he could not hear them do so. The same is true of maximalists. They have convinced themselves so completely of their view — either through money, power, ignorance, or a combination of them — that even when shown the actual data in plain language, they will not accept it. That is the mindset that must either be changed or overcome, if our rights and freedom are to be restored and protected.

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