It seems a little ironic that I was inspired to write a blog post today – on the day that sites all over the internet, including WordPress, are blacking out in protest of pending legislation that threatens freedom of speech on the Internet. I think my reaction to this realization taught me something both about myself and about the nature of the Internet and the necessity for its unique freedom.
Censorship was not my intended topic today, but before beginning to compose my blog post (I always procrastinate beginning to write), I checked my email and read a message from WordPress about their involvement in the blackout. I followed their link to further information about the legislation and used their tool to join in the protest by contacting my representatives. It was easy; and I admit I needed that ease. Furthermore, I had the option to black out my own blog for the day and to post a protest banner on my site. The latter was an easy choice, the former not so much so. After all, I have stuff to say! And the five or six people who might read my words of wisdom won’t see them. And now is when I was planning to write. I’m on a roll here! You see how inconvenience can get in the way of conscience. Hmmmm…a little self knowledge. I did join the blackout. And of course, the fact of the matter is that chances are excellent that no one will know. But that’s ok, too. I know. More self-knowledge. But, and here’s the big self-knowledge, I’ve figured out a method for having my own way anyhow. I’ll just write this today and post it tomorrow. Not rocket science, sure, but one more stone in the monument to my own stubbornness.
So much for learning about myself. But how does this relate to the nature of the Internet and the need for its freedom? Far more creative and entrepreneurial people than I use this incredible resource every day. The wildness of its nature and the openness of its access serve as a unique growth medium for all kinds of ideas and commerce. Sounds like the American West of previous centuries, doesn’t it? Granted, this can have both negative and positive consequences. But we have to be willing to take risks if we are to learn and grow. We have to believe that as individuals we have the good sense and strength of character to make our own judgments about how to use the Internet and its resources. Yes, we need to protect individual and corporate rights, but crimes against these rights should be handled on an individual basis according to existing regulations, not by sweeping legislation that silences the innocent as well as the guilty. It would be tragic to shut down the borders to this new land of the free and home of the brave.