Draft Proposal for Sunday 12/4 General Assembly: Tech

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Proposal to reach consensus on statement against the Stop Online Piracy Act.

Contact Person: Isaac

Statement Against the Stop Online Piracy Act:

The accumulation of power is a tyrant’s wont, and the defense of liberty is a citizen’s sacred duty.  It is inside the dialectic of these forces where the arc of human drama unfolds. Our story is long, and our progress has been great in our march towards a freer world. Yet much of our motion has been in retrograde – each epoch of our history eventually regresses into a gradual ceding of much that’s been accomplished.  Humanity is either profoundly patient, profoundly lazy, or both.  We tolerate much, and revolt very little. Yet, from time to time, the abuses of a government against its people become impossible to bear. From time to time, we reverse course, and once again make great strides in our quest for true justice.  When the arrogance of the powerful reaches a critical point, the apathy and lethargy and complacency with which the people are programmed can vanish quickly. We are here to sound a warning to those within the baricades of wealth and power: reverse course, or wake the sleeping giant of the true body politic.

The erosion of our essential liberties has been slow, and at times subtle, but it has also been constant and insidious. Nearly complete disenfranchisement of the general populace has been achieved via social, political, economic and enviornmental means. We gather here in defense of our treasured rights. We know that these rights are natural and god given, and we will not allow them to be subject to the will and whim of a shadow government or kleptocratic cadre. We will defend them to our death rather than live under the yoke of plutocratic despotism. Yet, we still believe that reparation can be achieved through means political and civil.

Though the string of tresspases which we protest is long, we wish to voice our grievances with the ruling regime in no uncertain terms. In the name of the American people, we beseech those who supposedly serve our interests to oppose the passage of HR.326 and S.968. Should these bills become law, our nation will transgress a line of moral sanity from beyond which it will be difficult to return. In the hope that we might still preserve and restore our republic, we implore our representatives to oppose these key pieces of legislation.

HR.3261 is the Stop Online Piracy Act, and S.968 is the Protect IP Act. The provisions of those bills would make it possible for the judiciary to censor content on the Internet with exceedingly low burderns of proof, and extremely high risk of collateral damage. It is the consensus of leading technology and civil liberties groups that the authors of these bills had little regard for the technical reality of our telecommunications systems or the rights of the populus to freely express itself. Multinational corporations have used the US Chamber of Commerce and Motion Picture Association of America to lobby heavily for these pieces of legislation – exerting their corrupting influence in the halls of power, so that our duly sworn servants might act against the interests of their constituencies. While a desire to stop the piracy of intellectual property may be justifiable, it is clear to the leading technologists of our day that the legislation in question would not do so. We will not once again allow ourselves to be fooled by the doublespeak of lobbyists and their puppet politicians. We will no longer look the other way.

Over the course of the last decade, much damage has been done to the moral fabric of our democracy. Longstanding principles have been breeched. Those in power have shown their colors as self-appointed lords who think it justified to capture,  detain, torture, and execute individuals anywhere on the planet. We have become a nation that spies upon its own citizenry, without need for warrant or subpoena. Dissent is quashed, vast swaths of the population are incarcerated and systematically undereducated, laws are bought and paid for. We seem to have forgotten, as a nation and as a people, that the only justified derivation of sovereignty is the voluntary association of free individuals. Recent events around the world strengthen our belief that a goverment sustained by the practice of coercion will not last. We are hopeful that we can repair this damage through means that are political and peaceful. A great deal of this hope lies in our newfound ability to communicate globally by means of digital transmission. We caution the so-called servants of the public that the ongoing and afformentioned attempts to legalize censorship of the Internet would spell moral ruin for our government, and disaster for our nation.

To the soul of any faithful citizen, the first part of this new millenium has been painful. We have watched as our nation’s legislators have proven themselves to be myopic and guided by corrupt influence. By all acounts, they no longer fulfill the role envisioned for them in our Constitution. They do not represent the interests of the many. The essential checks and balances required of the executive and judicial branches have similarly failed, as the power of such great weath concentrated in so few pervades all levels of government in their interlocking dependencies. It is natural to be humbled by failure. That humility propels evolution towards success. Though we see no evidence of it, we hope that those in power will be humbled by their failure, will awaken to their mandate, and will turn to the many for guidance.

We are still, in the words of Lazarus, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free – yet in this age of information, our yearning has taken a new shape. We yearn to share, to exhange ideas – to realize our common humanity, and in so doing transcend the ultimately destructive impulse of nationalism and narrow self-interest. Therefore, we will protect with all our might our right to have unfettered access to free speech via the Internet. At this critical hour in our history, we consider that right to be, in essence, concomitant with those still inalienable rights acknowledged in the Declaration of Independence – to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

It is not too late to save the soul of our state. It is not too late to turn back from the route of corruption and tyranny, but it must begin now, and it must begin by recognizing the critical importance of our ability to associate and exchange ideas in cyberspace. Any attempt to abridge our ability to do so will be viewed as an attack on our natural rights, and an egregious misstep. SOPA and Protect IP are horrendously crafted and dangerous pieces of legislation that will not achieve the ends purported by their corporate backers, but will endanger liberties most prized. They must not become law.

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