January 22, 2012

#Infowars, government style: the War on Content

Even though SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, is on hold for now, its Senate cousin, PIPA, is still alive, and SOPA supporters aren't totally deterred. So, we probably should ask "what next" after the "War on Drugs," "the War on Terror" and now the "War on Content" or, to use a word I've used for private-sector information control, "infowars."

John Wilkins nails it: Whether with criminal sentencing or civil penalties, SOPA is just the latest installment in that list of government "prior restraint" actions.

And, because the court system has totally deferred to the executive branch in the War on Drugs, and largely so in the War on Terror, if the government decides to play the "safety and security" card as part of the War on Content, we're all screwed.

And, it would be easy for Team Obama to do this. Although the government has downplayed the issue of Chinese military hackers before, all it has to do is raise that specter in current debate and bingo, with many people. Or just claim that, because information content, especially in the entertainment industry, is one of the few things America still does well, there's a national economic emergency.

That said, assuming SOPA gets repackaged into something more sneakily palatable: What IS next? What's the next government "war"? Per friend Leo Lincourt, if the GOP gets re-elected, maybe the "War on Poverty" gets defined in a whole new way, like forced stoop labor on truck farms to get food stamps.

Meanwhile, in the War on Content, SOPA and PIPA aren't the only problems.

And, just as America is an empire without traditional direct occupations, when do we say that America, if not totalitarian, is at least an authoritarian in some ways?

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