Wednesday’s Internet Protest Was A Really Big Deal

by on January 19, 2012 · 2 comments

in American Empire, Civil Rights, Media, Organizing, Popular

The new media masters of the internet flexed their political muscle yesterday; galvanizing opposition to pending legislation (House version SOPA, Senate version PIPA) viewed as threatening to freedom of expression.

Google’s ploy of putting black tape over their logo was dramatic enough to garner 4.5 million signatures on their anti-SOPA petition.  Another 1.458 million people signed a similar petition at the activist website Avaaz.org, and Fight for the Future said that its sites generated 350,000 emails to representatives in the House and Senate.  A graphic put out by Google shows that 3 million Americans had already signed various petitions against the pending legislation even before the protests started.

The OB Rag’s ‘Uppity Women, Freaks and Politicos’ joined with twenty five thousand WordPress blogs by blocking content and urging our readers to write their Congresscritters.  Our stat counter tells us that about three thousand people stopped by to see if we were serious about taking the day off.

So it was a big deal. Eighteen U.S. Senators, including seven that were formerly co-sponsors of the bill, rushed out public statements saying that they could no longer support it.  Websites for both the Senate and the House crashed under the strain of the email onslaught.

To understand just how powerful the interests allied in favor of these bills are (and what a big deal this really was), head on over to MotherJones for a most insightful analysis. Moneyquote:

 Only two American industries have ever had the clout in Washington to force Congress to ban Wall Street from trading futures on their products. The first was onions—futures trading in no one’s favorite root vegetable was banned in the 1950s after farmers protested that Chicago speculators were manipulating prices. The other ban is more recent: In 2010, at the urging of the Motion Picture Association of America, one of Capitol Hill’s most powerful lobbies, Congress banned movie futures as part of the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory reform bill.

 The big studios took on Wall Street—which isn’t known for losing lobbying fights—and won. So this month, when all the big entertainment companies joined forces with Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform and the US Chamber of Commerce, the nation’s foremost big business lobby, to fight for sweeping anti-piracy legislation, it was almost a foregone conclusion that they would get what they wanted.

 Instead, Big Hollywood lost.

 The New York Times quoted Columbia Law School professor Tim Wu:

 “This is the first real test of the political strength of the Web, and regardless of how things go, they are no longer a pushover,” said Professor Wu, who is the author of “The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires.” He added, “The Web taking a stand against one of the most powerful lobbyers and seeming to get somewhere is definitely a first.”

 Meanwhile, the mavens of the old media went into full apoplexy mode. The Wall Street Journal, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation (into dead tree journalism, television, films and cell phone hacking), called Wednesday’s on-line activism a “cyber-tantrum” and –gasp—warned readers that “The offline analogue is Occupy Wall Street.”

The Motion Picture Association of America trotted out former Democratic Senator turned lobbyist Chris Dodd who huffed and puffed and called the protests “an abuse of power”, going on to say:

  “A so-called “blackout” is yet another gimmick, albeit a dangerous one, designed to punish elected and administration officials who are working diligently to protect American jobs from foreign criminals.”

 Dodd, whose hometown paper once characterized him as a “lying weasel”, is perhaps best remembered for facilitating bonuses for AIG executives even as the federal government was bailing out that failing company.

In New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Las Vegas and Washington DC the online activism generated street protests. The group New York Tech Meetup protested against SOPA and PIPA outside of the offices of New York Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, both Democrats.

California Senators Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein, co sponsors of the PIPA bill in the Senate, were the targets of San Francisco protests led by the SF New Tech group.

 Meanwhile, Over at Twitter…

High school kids (and a bunch of teachers!) around the country freaked out upon finding that Wikipedia wasn’t happening. Gawker has compiled a very amusing (and sad) bunch of reactions on Twitter—my favorite:

 How am I supposed to do homework tomorrow without wikipedia? Seriously how about Washington gets rid of SOPA, and President Obama of course

 Blogger and media critic Andy Daglas gets my nod for this most clever read on Twitter:

 The Wikipedia blackout presents a horrifying picture of a world with no knowledge. So does the Fox News website, which is running normally.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar editordude January 19, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Google Inc. said today it collected more than 7 million signatures from the U.S. for its online petition to Congress during an Internet protest against anti- piracy legislation backed by Hollywood.

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avatar rick trujillo January 19, 2012 at 11:04 pm

Friends and comrades (“Bill Motto” VFW Post in Santa Cruz–we all loved calling each other “comrade” because we were just that, many of us at the front, often in combat zones, helping our Sandinista revolutionary people defeat Ronnie raygun and Oliver’s contras. I picked cotton for a few weeks at a co-op–healthiest I’ve ever been in mind and spirit.
Well, some 26 years later, our neighbors in Nicaragua have decided through voting (how remarkable is that?) to give the FSLN another go. Just seems a few weeks ago the marine officer ollie north convinced a young woman to make some space in her panties to spirit out some classified top secret documents out of (I’ll let you research the where)—-ah, yes folks, friends, red, white and blue american history. This is just to illustrate some reality (she never did time) and maybe suggest that security is what the powers that be say it is.. witness our heroic brother Bradley Manning…remember it’s security to insure their security not ours. So, where to go from here?
I would like to call the two gifted senators from California, a couple of rich (rhymes with itch) but I don’t want to ever offend female pooches. Anyway, I am only quoting by best friend (a lesbian) on politics. Bear with me, this gets good. Ask any peasant woman or high school female what glass ceiling means? What glass ceiling? Nothing, for our improvement, would be the right answer. Big deal with the senators, though, thanks for all the HP layoffs, CEO Carly Fiorina. Any guy would have done the same, but she reveled in it.
A couple of popular comedians timed it right )(Washington D.C.) and set off one of the best, make your own sign, shows since Monty Python went viral. This was before there even was a viral. I read just about every sign. They were even posted. We tend to forget what’s important. Like what our friends are actually thinking and saying. Middle class America showed some real signs of awakening (pun)–the event wasn’t just about answering the right wing or the crackpot tea party, as billed. It was about what it is today, the nightmare. The nightmare so many are miserably living. All the signs, all personally designed and prepared, demonstrated a sea change, like nothing we’ve seen in recent memory, that is, until the hyper-speed political action of the last few weeks, yes? Since then, the battle has been joined by the lower class (our downtrodden) who were some of the first to benefit from the sincere and honest youngsters who occupied parks and centers everywhere and didn’t–this is important– didn’t ignore all the battered humans around them. They/we provided aid and comfort to, you know, the kind of folks who stormed the Bastille, that giant prison in France, just a few years back in civilization. This would be a good idea, today, to release every Black male, incarcerated, who didn’t/hasn’t physically hurt someone. OK, OK back to the topic(s)–both senators from California need to depart the scene (they have plenty to live on). Not because of their lying treachery, on wars, the military, and so called security but because they have utterly betrayed our 52% of the 99% majority, Women, in the most insidious fashion in helping chip away and reduce to a shell the fundamental principle to both choice and a free remedy on demand, end of discussion. Their support for spying on us and scheming to limit free speech whether in Civic center or the internet shouldn’t surprise anyone, even though it does. They are doing exactly what they have always intended to do from the very second they began to think they could fool us and get elected. Well, they have succeeded in fooling the majority, yes or no? That’s why we are marching this Sunday for Abortion Rights. These two staked out these rights as a campaign issue when super numbers of women were in the streets, in motion, educating the world, not the church not the state, women will decide our fate; fakes, worse than fakes, cowards. Abortion rights, the acid test of truly standing with and supporting women, are we listening men? Whatever your age or political loyalty. It’s doubtful the two senators will be there with us, but they might issue a statement. One of these women is running for re-election, she’s rich as rich can be, so is hubby. A real classy female, a real ruling class female….great smile. Meanwhile coat hangers are back in the news. Lets vow to settle this once and for all, and never let up. For all our daughters everywhere. All out, Sunday.

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