Disclaimer: I am against SOPA
SOPA has been the topic of many tech blogs (including this one) over the last few weeks. The Stop Online Piracy Act would allow content providers to essentially shut down sites at a DNS level if they were accused of hosting copyrighted content. In protest of this potential law sites such as Reddit, Craigslist, Wikipedia and others have decided to black out their content for one day in protest (Techmeme Link). Other companies such as Google have dedicated space on their home page to the blackout (for example Google’s logo is blacked out).
Now before I get to my point let me explain my most basic rule on politics. I really don’t care what you believe as long as you’ve (a) thought it through completely and (b) are consistent in your application of it. In other words I want people to make sure they truly believe in something and not form political opinions as an excuse to hate other people. In that context I ask you this...
Where’s the “corporations aren’t people” outrage over the blackout?
For those who aren’t familiar with the “corporations are people” kerfuffle here’s the short version. A group called Citizen’s United created a negative movie about Hilary Clinton. The FEC prevented them from distributing it in an attempt to control corporate money in political campaigns. They sued and the Supreme Court eventually ruled that, for the purposes of free speech, corporations were people and could use their money to pay for anything that would be considered speech.
And Reddit went crazy. Articles flooded the homepage with titles like “The Grotesque Corporate Monstrosity Unleashed By Citizens United” and “Citizens United invites the worst corruption our democracy has witnessed since the Gilded Age.” (actually the same article with a new title but they were both such great examples I couldn’t resist).
So how is this blackout any different? All the companies participating are essentially turning over extremely valuable ad space to a cause they believe in. How’s that different from a corporation funding a film for electronic distribution? A company that chooses to lose ad dollars to support a cause is no different from one that pays ad dollars to support a cause.
(I’d like to give a special shout-out to The Left Call who published an anti-Citizens United article right before their coverage of the Blackout and completely failed to see the irony)
Again, I’m not advocating either side here. I’m simply saying “think through what you believe”. If you don’t like Citizen’s United then denounce the blackout. If you are in favor of the blackout then support the Citizen’s United decision.