Who exactly is supporting SOPA in the US? Yes, there’s the film industry and all its affiliated organisations. There’s also the record labels and plenty of artists’ unions, as well as rights holders for major sporting events. But if you take a look at the official ‘List of Supporters’ document for the bill from the US House of Representatives, you’ll notice that there’s also a few other organizations on there which don’t fall into any of the aforementioned categories. At least that’s what I found when I decided to follow up my previous post on SOPA by looking into the bills’ supporters in a little more depth.
Who, for example, are the Concerned Women of America – and why do they support SOPA so much? What about the mysterious Centre for Individual Freedom? Americans for Tax Reform? Let Freedom Ring?
Well, in case you hadn’t guessed from the names of these organisations, they’re all US right-wing pressure groups and their presence on the SOPA list of supporters worries me. It worries me because I’m deeply suspicious of why they would invest such extensive lobbying energy supporting SOPA if all they cared about was internet piracy. Movie studios and record labels have obviously vested financial interests in the internet piracy debate and thus it is obvious why they might spend time and (lots of) money supporting anything which might even possibly curb piracy, at least in the US.
Why on earth do these right-wing pressure groups care so much about SOPA? This is the question that worries me in relation to the anti-democratic threat of SOPA (covered in my previous post). In short, I don’t have any answers as to why these groups have chosen to get involved with SOPA, but I will provide a list of those signatories that I consider most alarming, and why:
- American Bankers’ Association – Powerful lobby group for the financial services industry, representing many of the largest US banks. Anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of how the 2008 financial crisis came about should be deeply suspicious of any effort by finance lobbyists to influence US legislature…
- Americans for Tax Reform – Pressure group who demand economic de-regulation and flat, low, tax rates (so that basically a millionaire pays the same rate as janitor). In other words, people who share the same ideological position as the ABA above, advocating the interests of the financial services industry at the expense of regulation and transparency.
- Centre for Individual Freedom – This organisation claims to be non-partisan, which seems slightly incongruous with the incessant negative coverage of Democratic President Barack Obama, which is obviously anything but neutral or balanced (click over to get a flavour for yourself – my favourite is where they quote an anonymous tweet about Obama’s ‘corrupt style of governing’ – a great way to circumvent the legal obligation to substantiate your stories).
- Concerned Women of America – Another openly right-wing organisation with various shocking statements to its name. My favourite is their defence of Pastor Scott Lively as a man who ‘speaks the truth’. Lively is the co-author of a book which claims that Nazism’s extremist excesses were actually caused by homosexuals.
- Let Freedom Ring – Another right wing pressure group which advances the level of ignorance on various issues (especially economic ones – in which ‘Growth’ and Government ‘Spending’ are shown to be diametrically opposed and mutually exclusive, and George Bush is hailed as an economically successful president, despite presiding over the reckless build-up to, and financial crisis of 2008. Incidentally, Barack Obama, is blamed for the crisis by virtue because he presides over the fall-out).
Anyway, I’ll leave it there – I could have gone into more detail with almost all of the organisations above, but there’s little need since a quick glance over at their websites will quickly reveal to you their ideological positions. I’ll finish on a simple question – why do these right-wing groups, who between them combine traditional American religious conservatism (anti-abortion, anti-gay etc) with extreme economic neo-liberalism (you know, the exact reason why we’ve had yet another economic crisis – leaving millions of people without homes, jobs, or savings), want to support SOPA so much? Is it because they have suddenly become crusaders for copyright and intellectual property, and decided to expend time and energy fighting to protect it? Or could there be other ways in which SOPA might be desirable for them?