Friday, April 16, 2010

In Germany, it's a crime to be an asshole.

To me, making it a crime to deny the Holocaust is giving way too much credence to idiocy. Why make a martyr of a scumbag like British Bishop Richard Williamson? As the famous First Amendment absolutist saying goes, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." In America, some of our strongest First Amendment protections have come at the expense of defending the Ku Klux Klan and Larry Flynt.

The real question is why the Catholic Church hasn't told this guy to shut his trap or defrocked his ass. With all their PR troubles, I'm surprised they're letting a creep run around making about the most inflammatory statements you can make.

In other news, free speech is also under attack in Bishop Williamson's home country. Yes, those rascally Brits are at it again. This time they're threatening to use censorship and surveillance in the form of the Digital Economy Act.

In case you didn't know, this Parliamentary act will regulate copyright law and give economic protections to those who need it most: huge corporations, of course. And if you believe their press releases, the mega media conglomerates are living hand-to-mouth these days because of piracy. So if we don't do something to help them--namely, set up a police state to monitor the Internet--our whole society will crumble. In fact, they're suffering so badly, they poured millions of dollars into lobbying for Britain's Digital Patriot Act.

According to this article, we can look forward to future extreme and Draconian measures here in the good ol' U. S. of A.

In the US, the MPAA and RIAA (American equivalents of the MPA and the BPI) just submitted comments to the American Intellectual Property Czar, Victoria Espinel, laying out their proposal for IP enforcement. They want us all to install spyware on our computers that deletes material that it identifies as infringing. They want our networks censored by national firewalls (U2's Bono also called for this in a New York Times editorial, averring that if the Chinese could control dissident information with censorware, our own governments could deploy similar technology to keep infringement at bay). They want border-searches of laptops, personal media players and thumb-drives.

They want poor countries bullied into diverting GDP from humanitarian causes to enforcing copyright. And they want their domestic copyright enforcement handled, free of charge, by the Department of Homeland Security.

Elements of this agenda are also on display (or rather, in hiding) in the secret Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, a treaty being drafted between a member's club of rich nations. They've turned their back on the United Nations to negotiate in private, without having to contend with journalists or public interest groups. By their own admission, they intend to impose this treaty on poor countries as a condition of ongoing trade, and in the US, the Obama administration has announced its intention to pass ACTA without Congressional debate.

Look forward to lots of hot rhetoric comparing media consumers to people who steal cocaine (see the comments of the article if you don't believe me). Because, you know, only a criminal would think the Fourth Amendment is a good idea.

We'll see what happens, but if that IP Czar tries to tell us that unless we have something to hide, we all have to install spyware for copyright protection, then I'm going to feel kinda bad for calling all those Tea Partiers paranoid lunatics.

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