America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilisation in between. - Oscar Wilde
THE GREAT AND THE GOOD US politicians that have been charged with debating the Stop Online Piracy Act could not manage that without throwing allegations at and offending each other.
There are many issues to be debated about SOPA and the politicians did have a lot of information to work on and go over, such as letters in opposition from just about anyone that has ever touched the internet and petitions with tens and hundreds of thousands of signatures.
The idea of discussing SOPA with engineers such as Vint Cerf who signed the EFF letter in opposition was mooted, but instead dismissed, while the suggestion that SOPA is draconian in nature and damaging was described as nonsense, but there were many other things to discuss as well as these, according to the Washington Post.
Republican Robert Scott (D-VA) responded to talk about Hollywood's influence on drafting SOPA with the suggestion that some of his colleagues might have been open to more persuasion than others.
"A lot of money has been floating around on a lot of different issues," he said as he painted a picture of politicians with their hands in contributors' wallets. "It's not worthy for us to be talking about who got bought off by whom."
Elsewhere in the room minds were wandering, and another Republican, Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) was deeply offended by a tweet from Representative Steve King (R-IA). Unfortunately, for King, and everyone else, his comment about how well Jackson Lee was presenting rather slowed down the deliberations.
"We are debating the Stop Online Piracy Act and Shiela Jackson has so bored me that I'm killing time by surfing the Internet."— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) December 15, 2011
Jackson Lee was highly offended and not just by the spelling, and insisted on having this fact recorded, which lead to some further discussion.
Once this important business was settled, Jackson Lee compromised and accepted to have it on record that she found the tweet to be "impolitic and unkind", rather than offensive. The debate then resumed.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has produced a checklist of things that are bad about SOPA and could damage the internet in ways that many technophobic US politicians appear to have missed.
"The Internet Blacklist bills - the House's Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Senate's PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) - would have a disastrous effect on online freedom of speech," it warns in the introduction to its reasons to be deeply concerned about SOPA and its companion PIPA legislation. µ