The Pirate Principle

There's a little pirate in all of us.

The blizzard’s coming. Are you ready?

Got milk?

Got toilet paper?

Got internet?

Hold on to your routers, ladies and gents. If some members of Congress have their way, the world wide web is about to get squeezed to stop the freeflow of opinions, information and ideas that we here in the big old US of A like to think of as our birthright.

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House of Representatives and the Protect I-P Act (PIPA) before the Senate aim to criminalize the sharing of images and music we’ve come to take for granted out here in the real world.

To protest the proposed legislation, internet giants Wikipedia, Google, Craigslist and others will join in a blackout of their services from midnight Eastern time tonight until midnight tomorrow.

President Obama and even some members of Congress have weighed in on the side of internet freedom. Rupert Murdoch, who wears his wallet on his sleeve, wants Google strangled. No surprise there.

As we hunker down and prepare to wait out a rare snowstorm here in Seattle, where internet access is as common as rain, we will watch this particular debate with concern. Some might think that as far as the internet is concerned the genie is out of the bottle and there’s no stuffing him back in. But censorship is a powerful and crippling tool. When government alone can tell people what to think there’s a danger that people may stop thinking for themselves.

Of course it can’t happen here, right?

There’s a reason history repeats itself. We forget the lessons our founding fathers worked so hard to codify.

The snow is getting deeper. The path grows more perilous. It will take more than hope to get through this mess.

Some principled pirates may have to lead the way.