The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has sent out a notice alerting people to the fact that today’s hearing on the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is a wee bit on the bias side:
The House Judiciary Committee will meet today for a hearing on the controversial Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA). What could have been an opportunity for the committee to hear from a variety of stakeholders has devolved into parade of pro-SOPA partisans. Scheduled to testify are representatives from the Register of Copyrights, Pfizer Global Security, the Motion Picture Association of America, the AFL-CIO, and Mastercard Worldwide—many of which helped to draft this legislation in the first place, and didn’t let anyone else into the room. The only scheduled witness in opposition to the bill is Katherine Oyama, policy counsel on copyright and trademark law for Google.
It’s almost as if the government wants to push SOPA through and are trying to control the message to that end. One way debates can be won is by stacking the deck in your favor. Excuse me while I travel down a side road to make an important point.
In the past the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had a regulation on the books known as the Fairness Doctrine. The regulation required holders of broadcast licenses to present both sides of an issue which resulted in the practice of having three people in a debate; one for the issue, one against the issue, and one neutral party.
Today many are asking the FCC to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine because they feel news today is too bais. What these same people fail to realize is the news was equally bias while the Fairness Doctrine was in effect but the game was played differently. For instance if you wanted to present an pro-gun control message you would get one person from the Brady Campaign (for the issue), one neutral party, and then a third pro-gun individual who was either crazy or just sounded crazy to the public (for instance you might get a self-declared militia leader who advocates the overthrow of the government to talk on the side against gun control). That way people the pro-gun control advocate would appear reasonable and sane so people would be more likely to side them him or her. Even with the Fairness Doctrine in place bias existed and that allowed the media to control the message.
Now that I’ve traveled down that side road let’s return to the topic at hand. The government wants SOPA to pass and they believe part of passing it requires controlling the message. Since many people don’t know the major players in this legislation the government has stacked the deck with numerous people who represent a pro-SOPA stance but appear neutral on paper (after all most people would believe Mastercard is a neutral party in this debate as their income isn’t derived from copyright). Most people will look at the list of testifiers and believe a large majority will be neutral and only a handful will speak for or against the legislation. In reality the government has simply stacked the deck in a rather underhanded manner so they can claim extensive support to justify passing the bill.
A majority of people don’t even realize that we’re being fucked over by our government since the methods being used to fuck us over aren’t blatant.
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