An Open Letter To Congress: SOPA Is A Good Start

Dear Congress,

Hey guys, how’ve you been? I know you probably don’t know me—I don’t have a whole lot of money to contribute to your campaigns, so you guys don’t have a lot of time for me. That’s understandable—you can’t get elected and get to know the people you’re representing at the same time. You’re only human.

I just wanted to whisper in your ear about this whole “SOPA” thing. I’ve been kind of following it, and I have to hand it to you guys: that’s some nice work. As a student, I produce a lot of writing—and I mean a lot. Just today, I wrote eight thousand words. Eight thousand. That’s eight thousand words of copyrighted intellectual property. So I’m really psyched to see that you’re going to help me keep those words from being pirated online.

But here’s the thing: I’m not sure you’re doing enough. I mean, most the people passing this bill aren’t too familiar with the internet. That should be a pretty big indicator that the internet is not popular enough to have a big impact on piracy. No, my concern is that people will just pirate my work in person. Like, for example: what if someone reads one of my essays to a friend? That friend just got my hard work, my insight, and my intellectual property. For free. That’s not fair—they should have to pay me for that!

So here’s what I suggest—and I think you’ll agree it’s pretty reasonable: if someone quotes my intellectual property, in part or in whole, I can call the police. The police then have five days to track down that person and cut their tongue out, so they can’t pirate my work anymore. If the police don’t respond in five days, they become accessories to the crime.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: but what if I accuse someone who didn’t actually pirate my work and get their tongue cut out just because I don’t like them? Well, I bet your first instinct is to say there needs to be a trial. I urge you to ignore that instinct—any delay will only embolden and strengthen the pirates. Instead, if I cut their tongue out and it turns out I was wrong, I should be obligated to buy them a parrot to talk for them. That will certainly keep me honest, I swear.

Keep up the good work, guys. SOPA is a great start, I just think you need to carry the idea a bit further. Take the core premise, that the possible misuse of a right means that right should be stripped at the drop of a hat, and extend it to every facet of our lives. Remember, you are legislating children here, not adults—if there’s a possibility a tool will be misused to hurt a minority of us, the majority should only be allowed to use that tool at the discretion of the minority. The fact that the minority could misuse your legislation to hurt the majority is a small snag, but I’m sure we can figure that out later.