What's Wrong w/ This Picture? (Deconstructing Senator Dodd's Outrage at the SOPA Blackout)

Assume for a moment that it's acceptable in a democratic society for a former US Senator to become the chief lobbyist for a trade association based in Washington DC that represents Walt Disney Studios, Paramount Pictures Corporation, Sony Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal City Studios and Warner Bros.

Screen shot 2012-01-18 at 9.01.30 PMEven making that assumption, isn't it unseemly for the man to continue to refer to himself as "Senator?"

But so he does.

His bio states he has been "a key participant in nearly every major national policy debate over the past three decades." And that participation continues.

Here is what "Senator" Chris Dodd, the Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), had to say about yesterday's blackout protest against SOPA and PIPA (emphases added):

"Only days after the White House and chief sponsors of the legislation responded to the major concern expressed by opponents and then called for all parties to work cooperatively together, some technology business interests are resorting to stunts that punish their users or turn them into their corporate pawns, rather than coming to the table to find solutions to a problem that all now seem to agree is very real and damaging.

"It is an irresponsible response and a disservice to people who rely on them for information and use their services. It is also an abuse of power given the freedoms these companies enjoy in the marketplace today. It’s a dangerous and troubling development when the platforms that serve as gateways to information intentionally skew the facts to incite their users in order to further their corporate interests.

"A so-called 'blackout' is yet another gimmick, albeit a dangerous one, designed to punish elected and administration officials who are working diligently to protect American jobs from foreign criminals. It is our hope that the White House and the Congress will call on those who intend to stage this 'blackout' to stop the hyperbole and PR stunts and engage in meaningful efforts to combat piracy."

Some questions, by way of unpacking Dodd's fascinating sentence, "It is also an abuse of power given the freedoms these companies enjoy in the marketplace today":

  • What power was Google, or Wikipedia, or Reddit, abusing? The power each exercises as a "gateway to information?"
  • Who gave "these companies" the "freedoms" that they "enjoy in the marketplace today?"
  • Does the observation that the corporate protesters' enjoy freedoms "today" imply that the giver may, some other day, take those freedoms away?

Screenshot is of Senator Dodd appearing on Meet the Press as recently as two months ago. (Would Tim Russert have conferred upon a lobbyist such pride of welcome?) 


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