We kicked SOPA’S ass

We kicked SOPA’s ass.

SOPA was the Stop Online Piracy Act, a bill to – you guessed it – stop online piracy, chiefly but not only illegal downloads of movies and music. It is a problem, in that the artists behind the illegally downloaded movies and music aren’t getting paid for their work when one illegally downloads it, but SOPA proposed to fight illegal downloads by giving the American government unprecedented power over the Web. The Internet, one of the few more-or-less worldwide freedoms, wouldn’t have been free anymore.

And we shot that bugger down like a clay pidgeon. Thousands of websites, including big ‘uns like Google and Wikipedia, protested SOPA through service blackouts and petitions on Jan. 18, one week before SOPA was supposed to come alive. The reaction to SOPA was so unanimously negative that its legislators, whose jaws remained agape for days, announced the day after the protests that the bill was being “redrafted” – essentially, that we’d sent it back to Kingdom Come. The threat that was SOPA was put to bed.

SOPA’s demise was an inspirational victory, not just because good triumphed over evil and we saved the Internet and I was able to finish illegally downloading “Alligator,” but because we did it, us, just by actually standing up for what was right. Our cynical buddies have made a schtik out of grumbling that we can’t do anything to make a difference, but sometimes, when it means enough to us, and we just do what we feel is right, we can make the difference we need in our world.

Here’s another chance, and it’s a big one. Anyone involved with the Vermont State College system knows that attending a Vermont state college is a massacre on one’s wallet. Vermont state higher education tosses out a student’s bills like an alcoho=lic tosses change at a bar. We’ve felt the hangover for years.

Now we’re sobering up. The Vermont State Colleges Student Government Association rallies on the steps of the Vermont Statehouse in Montpelier on Feb. 7 – that’s a Tuesday – to let those in power know that legislative funding for Vermont state colleges sucks. Yeah, it beats us senseless year after year we attend a state college, but it also discourages potential state college students from going to a state college: who wants to sign up for a sore wallet? It’s hurting us and it’s hurting this state.

Students across the state will be attending the rally to speak out about the issue. Without students, the rally is useless, as if potentially SOPA-censored websites had run little red text reading “SOPA stinks” instead of giving websurfers a taste of just how much it would suck.

We’ve had a taste of how much the Vermont State College cost sucks. Get your teachers’ permission not to attend class, and get to the rally on Feb. 7. Please share the suckage with the Powers That Be, so that the Powers That Be share it with us and future students no longer.

– Tom Benton