Some Thoughts on SOPA and PIPA


Update: I need to make something clear here: I am fervently and absolutely in support of protecting intellectual property rights. I abhor piracy, and believe it’s government’s legitimate responsibility to take strong action against it. My understanding of SOPA/PIPA is that it is too vague and gives government too much power, and is not the right response to piracy. However, my opposition to SOPA/PIPA should in now way be taken as opposition to anti-piracy efforts in general.

I haven’t written anything here about SOPA/PIPA, nor am I blacking out the site in protest of these frightening incursions of government into yet another aspect of my life. I haven’t done so for two reasons.

First, I hold no illusions that I anything I can say or do here would contribute much to the far greater efforts taken by the likes of Google, Wikipedia, Wired, and other major sites. I’ve signed whatever petitions I agree with on those sites and will continue to take similar steps where it makes sense.

Second, and perhaps more important, I don’t consider SOPA/PIPA to be any more important than any other example of government intervention. I believe that government’s role is solely to protect our individual rights. Government doesn’t exist to make sure we have a job, or enough food to eat, or healthcare, or anything else. I believe in what the Founders wrote in the Declaration of Independence:

…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…

We have the right to our life, our liberty, and to pursue our own happiness, and securing these rights is the only reason why government exists. Today, however, government has so far outstripped its legitimate authorities and responsibilities that it bears little or no resemblance to these founding ideals. Suffice it to say, I see SOPA/PIPA as just one small example of such abuse of power.

Indeed, it amazes me that someone could support Obamacare, for example, which is one of the most egregious impositions on our personal liberty since the nation’s founding, and yet work themselves into a tizzy over government regulation of the Internet. How can someone accept government dictating how and when they get healthcare but refuse to accept government influence over their access to the Internet? Frankly, such compartmentalization and lack of principle astounds me.

So, in short, yes, I’m against SOPA/PIPA. But unlike some others, I consider it a relatively minor example of how our government is destroying the very concept of individual rights. For more information on my philosophical position in general, visit the Ayn Rand Institute.


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