I’ve mentioned here before that the name given to a law can always be counted on to tell you a lot about the law – albeit too often because the law is intended to accomplish precisely the opposite of what the name implies.
Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, now being pressed. It is called this because its proponents, while they may well be statist thugs and freedom-hating scoundrels, are not complete idiots. They know that a law called The Screw Free Speech, We'll Shut Your Fucking Mouths For You Whenever We Damn Please Act would be more difficult -- but, sadly, I'm guessing not impossible -- to pass. The law would grant sweeping powers to the executive to flip a “kill-switch,” shutting down the Internet. It does not allow for judicial review. Take heart though: Such a shutdown could only last for four months before it would have to be authorized again.
I invite you, also, to choose your particular outrage. Here are just two:
Demonstrating that some people are immune to irony, the sponsors are pushing the law immediately after the President’s rightful criticism of the Egyptian government’s use of precisely the same technology in an attempt to squelch organized dissent there. (Here’s a Google search result with lots of hits pointing that out. You will note that, while the Suburban Sheepdog values reasonable discourse, not everyone does.)
And then there’s my personal favorite, Joe Lieberman, who clearly just cannot help himself. China’s got a kill switch he tells CNN, so why don’t we? Yes, Joe, good plan. Let’s try our best to emulate a nation which has recently used its control over the Internet to keep its own people from learning that a jailed government opponent there won the Noble Peace Prize.*
So be sure to link today's blog post to your friends, and to learn more about the bill, and to e-mail your representatives, and to fire up this issue on Facebook and Twitter -- while you still can.
* Lest you think my contempt is reserved for Democrats who tout limits on free speech: First, note that my contempt for Joe Lieberman is multifarious and longstanding. Second, note that the Act has Republican support as well. And finally, ask my poor, long-suffering wife, what it was like trying to have a conversation with me about anything else for several days after George Bush's Press secretary Air Fleischer warned that, post 9-11, Americans "need to watch what they say."