SOPA / PIPA and Homeschooling
Tried to check Wikipedia today? Denied.
Today, Wikipedia, WordPress and other sites have blacked out in order to to urge people to take action, to speak out against SOPA and PIPA by contacting their State Representatives. Even on Facebook, half of my friends have either a blacked out profile picture or an infographic from America Censorship.org.
I am going out on a limb and assuming that since you’re here, you don’t live in the woods in an area where the closest internet access is 50 miles from your front door (though if you are – please… for the love of black nail polish and sparkly things, let me know; I beg of you! The thought that I may have a fan who spends what precious little online time he or she has reading here is almost overwhelming!!), and thus have some at least seen the letters and recognized that there’s a brou-ha-ha going on about them.
If you’re not familiar with the terms (come out form under your rock… just kidding. No, really…), SOPA is the Stop Online Piracy Act that is before the House of Representatives to vote on in a couple of weeks. PIPA is the Senate’s version of the same/similar bill the Protect IP Act (S. 968).
What does that mean for me and you? Other sites have covered the myriad consequences that affect the flow of information, but I wanted to talk about how it will affect homeschoolers. As a homeschooling parent, I rely heavily on the internet for access to.. well, everything, really. From connecting with my fellow homeschoolers and support networks via Facebook and internet forums like SecularHomeschool.com, to lesson planning and research for improving my own skills as a teacher. I use the internet to find recommendations, to gather ideas and spark my own creative process for everything from my own artistic pursuits to reinterpreting classroom techniques to be used in homeschooling.
SOPA and PIPA will put an end to all of that, to most if not all user-edited sites, including blogs! If you need a clearer picture of what all this means, I’m going to re-direct you to an article at Gizmodo that ‘splains it for you, Lucy. Back now?
So. Whatcha gonna do about it? Email a Senator? Contact a Congressman? If you’re in Texas, that would be Senator John Cornyn (who, according to Free Press Action Fund is opposed to PIPA) and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (who has yet to take a stand). Check FPAF to see where your Senators stand! You can find your Texas State Representatives here: Find My Representatives! If you’re not in Texas, as long as you look before SOPA and PIPA pass, you can Google it. If you wait… well, good luck with that.
Something I would like to mention is how this issue has affected us today in class. We’re still working on our Martin Luther King, Jr. notebooking pages, and one of the passages that the kids are writing today is the ‘Six Principles of Nonviolence’. Among them is ‘Attack forces of evil, not persons doing evil.’ We talked today about what ‘attacking forces’ meant and it just so happened that the contact page for Senator Hutchison was still on my screen. We talked about how we fight against ‘forces of evil’ in our country – through legislation. Being heard, contacting our Representatives, voting – how all of these things help maintain our freedoms and how without taking a stand and making your own voice heard, you’re allowing others to dictate your path. We talked about how important it is to have a say in what goes on around you and how Dr. King’s non-violent approach applies to our lives today. I was super proud of my kids for their ability to create scenarios and work for peaceful, yet effective, solutions.
Here’s part of the letter that I sent to Seantor Hutchison this morning under the heading of ‘education’ with the subject line, “Homeschoolers need the Internet”:
I am writing to you as a citizen in your district. I urge you to vote “no” on cloture for S. 968, the PROTECT IP Act, on Jan. 24, 2012. The PROTECT IP Act is dangerous, ineffective, and short-sighted. It does not deserve floor consideration.
As a homeschooling parent, I rely on internet resources for research, lesson planning and to keep in touch with what’s going on in the world as I do my best to ensure that my children prepare for college. I believe that the PIPA will be detrimental to the flow of information, and thus cripple me as a homeschooling parent in doing my best to educate my children.
According to Free Press Action Fund, you have not taken a stand against the PROTECT IP Act at this time. I urge you to consider the limitations and hardships that PIPA will place on homeschooling families in Texas.
Over coming days you will no doubt be hearing from the many businesses, advocacy organizations, and ordinary Americans who oppose this legislation because of the myriad ways in which it will stifle free speech and innovation. I sincerely hope that you will take my concerns and those of your voters to heart and OPPOSE this legislation by voting “no” on cloture.
Part of this letter was taken from a form letter at American Censorship. I added my own thoughts to it as well. I can imagine that a more personal letter would have more of an impact than a form letter (I copied and pasted to get the language right). If you’re crunched for time or just don’t know what to say, please send a form letter in! There are MANY of them out there – pick one you like and make it fly! If you want, you still have time to send out a snail mail letter, too. Handwritten on beautiful stationery… ours go out in tomorrow’s mail.