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And how does the typical american make an intelligent decision about supporting or critiquing internet legislation?
Today, if you're like me, you may have noticed many favorite websites such as Craigslist and Wikipedia are offline in a united strike formation to protest legislation proposed to regulate internet piracy. (Internet/intellectual property piracy generally refers to the unauthorized/unlicensed reuse of creative content online. For example the US film industry is very concerned about websites that "steal" movies and repackage and sell them, pocketing all proceeds and stiffing the creators of the content.)
NOPE! his isn't an exhortation to Arlington Unitarians to "CALL YOUR CONGRESS MEMBER NOW AND TELL THEM TO VOTE NO!"
What it is, rather is a meditation on how we, individually and as a church, manage the constant onslaught of alarm in the media today. And to consider how we practice prudence in being informed before responding politically to issues.
I believe how we choose to respond has a crucial significance for how we determine our ministerial activities. Why? Because faith organizations are nothing if not institutions that provide comfort in narrative: On the cosmic scale that narrative may be that "the world is a terrible and lovely mystery we must learn to embrace." On the more quotidian scale, that narrative dictates how we give comfort to one another today and how we conceive of public service today and tomorrow.
Clearly, we stand, as a society on the brink of a new age of "Babel."Not confounded merely by different languages, we are existentially confounded as a democratic faith and nation, by a tempest of nonsense in a sea of very real threats to faith and free civilization.
I don't know how I would solve it, but I would pray for the following:
* guidance to reliable sources from which I could draw conclusions
* congregational and inter-congregational issues working groups that presented consensus statements
* educational guides that might offer succinct discussions and conclusions about how certain issues, whether it be food or internet industry/law affects our lives
I would pray that our social justice activities do not merely provide a purging valve for the incidental tidal pools of misery, while the ocean of injustice rises inexorably to inundate our shores. For this, we need deliberate discussion about resources and threats and yes, Narrative. Strategic narrative.
I don't want to be told what to believe. I want my faith to be nourished by skepticism. I want to have ready access to intelligent conversation and conclusions as an individual, and I would like to be able to share sources of intelligence with others in the support of a critically thinking and acting faith/political community.
So: Is SOPA/PIPA legislation a "no brainer"? or is it more complex? Maybe there are certain specific points of fact which make it easy to see either way? What are they? Is there a lawyer or other professional authority in our congregation who could weigh in?
What if we came up with a way of using actual data points to create a template for a reusable visual map of issue protagonists and their adversaries, along with the foremost points of contention between industry and public interest?
What if we used SOPA/PIPA as a case study: how would we go about compiling the most succinct body of intelligent objective deliberation on this subject.
Could the outcome - a single page consensus statement (with footnotes/citations please?!) - provide the metal for interfaith resolutions?
I have not been following this issue, but Todd's writing caught my attention and interest. I wanted to quickly see what objective writing had been already written- and found this http://www.fairpayzone.com/2012/01/pipa-and-sopa-fairpay-and-death-... Which I thought was really interesting. Personally, I can see both sides, and this was a nice approach to avoiding the either/or thinking that is so dominant in our current politcal and media attention.
On the broader issue of how we make decisions individually and as a congregation and what we do with information, I strongly support that our social justice work not "merely provide a purging valve..." but I also fear that more working groups and consensus statements will stall our actions rather than enhance them. For me, the benefit of the internet is that smart people's work is pretty easily available. I myself want to spend more time finding and reading what's already there and moving on what is important to me, and working more effectivley within our congregation to strengthen my liberal voice in the direction that the country is moving. - At least that's my thought today!
I think the fair pay model is a good place to start!
I ain't never gonna let myself forget this phrase:
"the world is a terrible and lovely mystery we must learn to embrace."
Hope I posted what you wanted posted, and in the right place. Yikes.