Crowd Cheers Loudly As All Four GOP Candidates Say No To SOPA/PIPA: Translating the Candidates’ Answers

by Stephan Kinsella on January 20, 2012

Mike Masnick has this interesting post up today at Techdirt:

Crowd Cheers Loudly As All Four GOP Candidates Say No To SOPA/PIPA

from the national-issue dept

It really was just a few weeks ago that a Hollywood lobbyist laughed at me (literally) when I suggested that SOPA/PIPA might become a national issue during the Presidential campaign. As he noted, copyright issues just aren’t interesting outside of a small group of people. My, how things have changed. After this week’s protests made front pages and top stories everywhere, it’s not all that surprising that the candidates at the latest GOP debate were asked their opinion of the bills… and all four came out against them. Of course, this seems to fit with the new GOP positioning that they’re the anti-SOPA/PIPA party (so sorry Lamar Smith…). Mediaite has the video:

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Masnick quotes each of the four candidates’ responses to the question. I provide them below, with “translations” provided by my friend Daniel Coleman for the three statist candidates:

Gingrich: “You are asking a conservative about the economic interests of Hollywood? I am weighing it and thinking fondly of the many left wing people that I am so eager to protect. On the other hand, you have so many people that are technologically advanced such as Google and You Tube and Facebook that say this is totally going to mess up the Internet. The bill in its current form is written really badly and leads to a range of censorship that is totally unacceptable. I believe in freedom and think that we have a patent office, copyright law and if a company believes it has generally been infringed upon it has the right to sue. But the idea that we have the government start preemptively start censoring the Internet and corporations’ economic interest is exactly the wrong thing to do.”

Translation: I joke about using power to hurt people who disagree with me on policy. But seriously, folks, this bill got way too unpopular for me to be able to support it. I think you need the powers of this bill vested differently so that it won’t cause as much of an outrage.

Romney: “The law as written is far too expansive, far too intrusive and far too threatening of freedom of speech and information carried across the Internet. It would have a depressing impact on one of the fastest growing industries in America. I care deeply about intellectual content going across the Internet and if we can find a way to very narrowly go after those people who are pirating especially those offshore. But a very broad law that gives the government the power to start saying who can pass what to whom, I say no and I am standing for freedom.”

Translation: I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. But once this whole to-do about SOPA has had its 15 minutes of fame in the media, slightly reword the act and I’ll support it.

Paul: “I am one of the first Republicans to oppose this law and so glad that sentiment has mellowed up here as Republicans have been on the wrong side of this issue and this is a good example on why its good to have someone who can look at civil liberties … freedom and the Constitution bring people together.”

Santorum: “I do not support this law and believe it goes too far. But I will not agree with everyone that there isn’t something that should be done to protect the intellectual content of people. The internet is not a free zone where anyone can do anything they want to do and trample the rights of other people. Particularly when we are talking about entities off shore. The idea that the government has no role to protect the intellectual property of this company, that’s not right. The idea that anything goes on the Internet? Who has that idea. Property rights should be respected.”

Translation: I basically don’t have a problem with this law, but it would be suicide to admit it. I mean, people have way too much freedom online: do you know what people are saying my name means on the internet?

Santorum was the worst and creepiest. He is bugged by freedom and the Internet. As Masnick said:

Santorum’s answer is the weakest, obviously — and isn’t too surprising. Just recently he made a statement that was about how online activity should be regulated.

But, really the most interesting part of what happened was not the candidates answering the question, but the audience’s response. When John King asked the question and gave a brief explanation of SOPA/PIPA… he also mentioned that CNN’s parent company, Time Warner, supported the bill… and the crowd booed loudly. When the candidates — particularly Gingrich and Paul — made their claims, the crowd cheered loudly.

Update: here is Santorum apparently endorsing SOPA or something like it, and regulation of the Internet and restriction of Internet freedom in the name of child pornography and piracy.

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