During the protests regarding SOPA/PIPA, I put my name down on a few lists to contact my Senators and Representatives to let them know my feelings on the matter. I have now received the scripted replies to those notes and feel like I ought to share them here.
The most disappointing response came from Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. Her response is as follows:
Thank you for contacting me regarding S. 968, the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act (the PROTECT IP Act, or PIPA). The parallel, but not identical, legislation in the House of Representatives is H.R. 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). I welcome your thoughts and comments.
I did not cosponsor this legislation. By letter, e-mail, and telephone call, thousands of constituents like you have highlighted the potential pitfalls in the bill.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who was a strong supporter of PIPA, has withdrawn the bill from Senate floor consideration. I agree with this decision. Although there are legitimate issues to be addressed regarding so-called internet piracy, I believe that several provisions of the current legislation need to be clarified or revised.
Protecting intellectual property is more challenging than ever before. For example, high speed broadband enables access to the entire catalog of movies, music, books, television, and technology. These protections should not censor free speech, nor should they hinder innovation.
Online promotion of counterfeit goods by foreign entities is also a growing concern. Assessing how to protect copyright, patent, and intellectual property rights — and doing so without infringing on consumers’ legitimate interests — requires dealing with a complex series of problems.
Please be assured that I will keep your views in mind should this bill or related legislation be reported to the floor for action by the full Senate. I appreciate hearing from you, and I hope that you will not hesitate to contact me on any issue that is important to you.
Kay Bailey Hutchison
United States Senator
284 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
The impressions I received from that are as follows:
- “I did not cosponsor the legislation”
- “I support Harry Reid withdrawing the bill from consideration”
- “We must protect Intellectual Property, but it is way more complex than you think it is”
- “I am not going to tell you my position on any of this because I don’t want to be tied down to it later”
I understand that this is a standard response from a politician, but I expected more from her. She has always done well representing her constituents, but I feel like in this instance, she thinks that she knows better. Not unlike a parent whose child comes up and says “I think our car can fly!”. You just look at them, smile, say “That’s nice”, and continue driving down the road.
We are not children. We are the people that cast the votes to put you in office. Simply because you make the laws, you are not more knowledgeable or better than us. Some of us work to develop those items you are trying to restrict. Some of us use those items on a daily basis. We understand how it actually functions and how changes will affect us in particular and our neighbors more generally.
Treat us as you would like to be treated. Don’t think first about those people that gave you money. Think first about those people that elected you. Instead of thinking of us as children and you as a parent, think of us as the parents and you as the child. You will find that we as your constituents will be a lot less likely to be upset with you in general.