Well, now I feel silly. Earlier this evening, I wrote a blog post about the boycott against the pro-SOPA crowd; SOPA is the bill to stop piracy on the Internet. I said that the boycott was a form of censorship when in fact a boycott is an exercise in free speech. I was 100% wrong, moreso because I’ve argued in favor of mass movements before.
The commenters on my post, namely Mary Hinge, Chris Dixon and Sasha Aickin, are 100% right.
Why did I say something wrong? Well the whole boycott just reminded me of my days in college, when I saw very strident people make it very difficult for someone to express an opposing view. Even though I was sort of a wanna-be hippie myself, I always empathized with the guy being shouted down by the other hippies.
The issue back then was political correctness. Yes, I am one of those people who believe that the words we use to describe people of different races and sexual orientation matter, but still I’ve never been comfy with the idea of political correctness. The pressure back then somehow felt to me like a violation of free speech, when really the pressure itself was a part of free speech.
And now it sometimes feels to me that we are using far more powerful levers, on Facebook and Twitter, to shout down the pro-SOPA people. It is totally legit, especially since they have pretty big levers too. I still think we’ll regret that we didn’t engage in a more civil way. Something should be done about piracy. No one who built the Internet seems to have serious intentions of doing it. Any action the government takes will be despised.
But businesses and financiers have the right to organize together to crush a bill, just as today’s Internet companies and venture firms are now doing, alongside the studios and producers on the other side.
I apologize for being stupid, but I wasn’t trying to be provocative. I was sincere in my stupidity, if that makes any sense. I have posted many, many times about Internet piracy because it bothers me more than most people, and posted even more often arguing for moderation generally, because I’ve lately been feeling like the whole world has gone mad.
But I was still wrong about whether the boycott was a violation or a shining example of free speech. It’s a shining example. If you have ever gotten into an argument in which you hoped your unassailable logic would slay the will to live of the other side, please print this blog post out. My will to live has been slain for the moment, and I can’t delete it so I just have to eat it.