We suppose most people just trust that the U.S. government isn't "that kind of government"...that though it might give itself the tools of a tyrant, it would never stoop to using them except on the really bad guys. We also supposed that most Americans have just resigned themselves to do whatever their political masters want, to let Congress pass muckheaded laws while granting the executive branch the powers of an absolute monarch.
But then we saw the enormous resistance to an act of Congress that would damage the Internet. And what's more, popular resistance seems to have worked. As of this morning, SOPA is dead in the water...at least in its current incarnation.
We've said before in these pages that Americans may not be too worried about their liberty -- and most probably think only "bad guys" have anything to fear from the American version of the totalitarian police state -- but mess with their favorite new toy (the Internet) at your own risk.
The White House is taking seriously the public opposition to SOPA. Lawmakers who'd backed SOPA are now making a hasty retreat. Even the bill's architect, Rep. Lamar Smith, is paying attention. He removed the most controversial DNS-blocking rule from the bill.
But then, a little later, we read this on ZDNet:
"U.S. House Judiciary Committee Member Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) opponent, has announced that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has promised him that he will not bring the bill to the floor. That means, for all practical intents and purposes, SOPA is dead.
"In a press release, Issa announced that he was canceling his Wednesday hearing on ‘the impact of Domain Name Service (DNS) and search engine blocking on the Internet...has been postponed following assurances that anti-piracy legislation will not move to the House floor this Congress without a consensus.'
"Issa said, ‘Majority Leader Cantor has assured me that we will continue to work to address outstanding concerns and work to build consensus prior to any anti-piracy legislation coming before the House for a vote.' Without the majority leader's support, SOPA won't get to the House's floor, it will not be voted on and this makes it essentially dead."
Dead? Like a horror movie monster, we're sure it will lunge again, no matter how many times it seems to be really, really dead. We read in today's feature article from Mac Slavo that Obama had issued an official veto threat. We hardly think it mattered (and neither does Mac, as you'll see below). Obama mouthed the same threat about vetoing the National Defense Authorization Act. Then he signed it like a good little stooge.