I applaud the WordPress folks being so kind as to provide a plugin that makes it insanely easy for those of us who have WordPress-based sites to blackout for SOPA Blackout Day (January 18, 2012). [Note: If you don’t know what SOPA/PIPA are, check out this BBC News article for a really quick primer and link to full bill text, or you can search for SOPA and read any of 1000 articles/blog posts about why it’s a horrifyingly bad idea.]
I chose to go with the ribbon (which will be visible until January 24th, when SOPA’s twisted Senate sibling, PIPA, is due to come up for a vote) because I thought the rather LARGE amount of stuff that would show on your blacked out site was a bit much. And potentially intrusive. While I have no qualms asking you to view a video that explains why Congress is the worst group of people to determine what you should/shouldn’t be able to do online, I do have issues with putting something on my site that asks you for your phone number or other info that you may not want to share. It’s just not my style.
So I’ll say this about SOPA and PIPA, and then hopefully I never have to speak on the subject again: CENSORSHIP IS BAD. Letting Congress (especially the U.S. Congress) decide what is and isn’t cool to post online and just how much whipping and financial liability you have to incur for running afoul of slanted legislation…well, that’s just INSANELY BAD. Allowing the government to shut down entire sites because of the actions of any one person isn’t just insanely bad, it’s HORRIFYINGLY STUPID AND EVIL AND WTFARGH#$&@!!! Like any other legislation that threatens your ability to do/say what you want, the best starting point is to read it. If you agree with it, mazel tov. If not, then you have options for what to do about it, including (but not limited to):
1. You can complain about it publicly to others, to spread awareness. Twitter and other social media are fantastic for spreading all kinds of things, even (gasp!) truth.
2. You can call and/or write to your Senator. Not sure who your senator is? Go to the U.S. Senate web site, pick your state from the drop-down-menu, and it’ll tell you. (Unless you live outside of the U.S., in which case I say to you: “BE GLAD YOU DON’T HAVE ONE OF OUR SENATORS.”)
3. You can go to any of the number of sites blacked out sites for the day, like Wikipedia or Reddit or BoingBoing or WordPress, and watch the videos, use the contact forms, etc.
In keeping with my general mantra of “do what works for you”, I suggest you pick the method(s) that fit your needs best. I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff – I have recipes queued up that I wanted to post, but I thought it was more important to put out my $0.02 on legislation that really doesn’t add any value to the internet. It attempts to limit it. Severely. And in no way, shape or form is that remotely cool.