Thursday, 12 April 2012

War Of Words

Remember when the Internet was at war?  That whole SOPA/PIPA thing spurred unprecedented global action, even turning the Internet itself 'dark' for a day, pressuring American legislators to shelve their proposal to tramp all over the global network that connects billions of world citizens for the sake of a few Hollywood studios.  That's obviously not an unbiased version of events, but words have meaning, and I might as well say what I mean - it was a disgusting and disgraceful overreach from self-centred politicians with no regard for their own Constitution, never mind the rights of the rest of the world.  And speaking of meaning what you say - they are at it again, this time with the CISPA bill, which simply substitutes 'piracy' for 'cyber security' then defines cyber security as including piracy.  That they only waited a couple of months to try to shove this back through is insulting enough, but the sheer laziness of the approach displays breathtaking contempt for the world's public.  Essentially this bill will provide the US government with the same power SOPA and PIPA desired - to play whack-a-mole with websites that share files or so much as criticise a corporate or government entity, shutting them off at will and protecting private profit at the expense of public speech and security.

So Hollywood and its cronies are trying again, and this time they have done the most basic and ham-fisted of rewrites in order to try to pass the exact same solution that was so roundly despised the first time.  All they did was change the words.  And this is why writing, and writers, are so valuable.  It is what gives them power.  The old cliche about the pen being mightier than the sword?  Well, Jack Bauer can kill a guy with a pen, but a politician can kill thousands.  Not only can they kill them directly, through orders to war or execution, but indirectly through policies and legislation and the law of (allegedly) unintended consequences.  Stand Your Ground laws are a controversial collection of words that have given license to citizens in states across the US to shoot to kill when confronted with somebody they are afraid of.  The egregious example in Florida of the Trayvon Martin shooting obviously springs to mind, but while it was the letter of the law that gave license to the actions of the shooter, or at least to the actions of the police who shrugged their shoulders over the incident, it was also the words of the democratised media and the outraged public at its helm that forced the Department of Justice to respond.

Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can have far greater consequences than that.  When writing anything, never forget that power you hold literally in the palm of your hand.  I've always said that writing is like being a god, and CISPA proves it - with a little creative writing you can bring the dead back to life.

Now here it is, your moment of zen:

No comments:

Post a Comment