Burch: O, what a tangled web

Thursday, January 19, 2012 at 10:05pm
By Michael R. Burch

Nashvillians who attempted to access Google or Wikipedia on Wednesday may have experienced a shock.

Wikipedia shut down completely for 24 hours, while as I write this article Google's name is blacked out on its front page. Both companies are protesting Big Brother-like intrusions on their services. China’s government recently forced Google to either censor content or stop providing services to users, so we may infer that Google — whose informal company motto is “Don’t be evil!” — is trying to persuade our government to choose freedom of speech over turning the Internet into a China-style electronic Gulag.

When George Orwell wrote his most famous novel, “1984,” he never envisioned a world in which billions of "commoners" could get together, compare notes and criticize their governments’ policies and actions. This ability of everyday Joes and Janes could be a very important thing — perhaps the most important thing — if people around the globe want to gain and/or preserve individual rights and freedoms.

But dictatorial governments need to suppress the truth, which means suppressing freedom of speech, assembly and dissent. So the question becomes: will our increasingly dictatorial federal government continue to strip us of our rights and freedoms? If so, then like China and Iran, it will have to suppress the truth, which means denying us the ability to assemble and dissent. And of course the single biggest and far most active place of assembly and dissent today is the Internet.

Google and Wikipedia are protesting two bills currently before Congress, the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House.

According to Google, "Millions of Internet users and entrepreneurs oppose SOPA and PIPA" because the U.S. government could "order the blocking of sites using methods similar to those employed by China. Among other things, search engines could be forced to delete entire websites from their search results. That's why 41 human rights organizations and 110 prominent law professors have expressed grave concerns about the bills. Law-abiding U.S. Internet companies would have to monitor everything users link to or upload, or face the risk of time-consuming litigation. That's why AOL, eBay, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Mozilla, Twitter, Yahoo and Zynga wrote a letter to Congress saying these bills 'pose a serious risk to our industry's continued track record of innovation and job-creation.' "

Our government is constantly chipping away at, and eroding, our constitutional rights and freedoms. Which is more important: protecting the rights of 300 million law-abiding American citizens, or turning the Internet into a Gulag in order to reduce piracy? Do we deny American citizens the right to travel because somewhere in the world a few pirates are running amok? Do we need Big Brother to put cameras in our bedrooms and bathrooms, to scan constantly for pirates? What about our right to be presumed innocent, and the right of organizations like Google and Wikipedia not to intrude on their clients’ privacy? 

An important plank in the foundation of modern civilization and law is the idea that protecting the rights of the innocent is more important than apprehending and punishing the guilty. So we should join Google, Wikipedia and the Occupy Wall Street protestors and "just say no" to politicians who insist that we need their "protection" when what they're really offering is a Mafia-like protection racket.


Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary” at www.thehypertexts.com.

71 Comments on this post:

By: dargent7 on 1/20/12 at 5:42

Every time I read about, "the Nashvillians" I''m thrown back to Dr. Suess's "The Who's down in Whoville....a nice group of people. Kinda like the Amish.
How did these two laws originate? What organization or who crafted them?
I read all the time and this stuff just popped up overnight.

By: Loner on 1/20/12 at 6:18

Good morning, Nashville!

I agree with Mike Burch; the internet must remain free and open...with as little government regulation as possible.

Our Hope & Change president seems to sign whatever they put in front of him....he does not want to rock the boat...he wants to be re-elected. The new boss is the same as the old boss....we got fooled....again.

By: govskeptic on 1/20/12 at 6:25

The author is exactly right on this matter, and these bills originate with
lobbying groups of special interest using the lowest fruit on the tree
(congress) to protest their narrow interest.! The much larger questions
and the public be damned becomes the quick answer. The biggest
offender is China, and yet the Administration and congress instead of
taking on the problem with that country, they use Chinese methods of
suppression of the citizenry versus confrontation with the problem.

The suppression of speech and rights on the internet and other venues
is not only a problem from the Federal Government but also from
State and Local Governments on a continuing basis as well!

By: yogiman on 1/20/12 at 7:29

When Barry Soetoro was put in office in 2008, that put Congress within the 10 yard line of scoring their winning touchdown for their win the game (complete takeover of the USA). Congress now feels they are our employers... not our employees.

Going back to my youth, every president mentioned God in their inauguration speech. Has the currant man in office ever mentioned God?

By: gdiafante on 1/20/12 at 7:29

"Google and Wikipedia are protesting two bills currently before Congress, the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House."

I guess the brilliant minds that frequent this site can't read too well...where does it say they have been passed as law?

By: yogiman on 1/20/12 at 7:37

Obama's exposure #15

Barack Obama will continue to further undermine the people's Second Amendment right to bear arms and elevate the idea that the state, not the people, has the ultimate power.

By: Captain Nemo on 1/20/12 at 7:44

"I wish he would, get out of The Gene Pool. Now! "
Captain Nemo-

By: Captain Nemo on 1/20/12 at 7:45

Is this censorship or is it meant to stop thefts?

By: Loner on 1/20/12 at 8:37

I tried to watch the "debates" last night....after about ten minutes of that it grew too nauseating ...Ron Paul had the best answers, IMO. The other candidates kept stealing from his face time, with whiny interruptions etc.

Newt looks like an aging piggish man, an arrogant phony, a wise-ass wearing a hair helmet without the chin strap...he looks red in the face...like a gasket could blow....I don't think the man is fit for duty. His ideas are the same old worn out and failed ones: De-regulate and give to the rich, so that the wealth can trickle down to the rest of us.

Santorum looks young, trim and fit...but nuts. And creepy.

Romney looks the most presidential and he did not seem to muff any of his lines...he looks like one of those mature actors in a Viagra ad. He seems to have a talent for pulling numbers out of his nether regions and stating them convincingly. The man is a supreme bullshit artist, no doubt about that.

The audience was well-scrubbed and sanitary looking...a few uppity black suck-ups were scattered across the white sea of acclamation...the clap-happy GOP faithful.

John King did a good job, IMO...considering what he had to work with.

By: Captain Nemo on 1/20/12 at 8:45


By: yogiman on 1/20/12 at 8:55

But.... we won't know until, its over, will we, Loner? Elections cause a strange climate. The "media" feel they have the "obligation" to tell we [the ignorant] whom to vote for.

To convince so many people to vote for a man whom obviously wasn't constitutionally eligible proves there's more ignoramuses in the US than reasonably intelligent people.

Its like Ol' Abe said; "You can fool all of the people some of the time, and you can fool some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time."

We'll what portion we have this year.

By: Captain Nemo on 1/20/12 at 9:05

"The only reason that I talk to myself is because that I'm the only one whose answers I accept."


By: yogiman on 1/20/12 at 9:41

Captain Nemo,

If you could reach the lowest level of intelligence on an IQ test, you'd have learned to "listen" long ago.

But you apparently didn't learn to read, either.

By: Mike Burch on 1/20/12 at 9:58


The "main purpose" of the bills is to stop piracy, but who can doubt that if one of the bills passes, it will be used to also stop terrorism. The next logical step is for the government to start censoring information it doesn't want people to know. So it seems possible that the bills could come back to bite us, by taking away our freedom of speech. And it will be much harder to post things online, where large numbers of people can find them via YouTube, FaceBook, etc., if those sites have to monitor all content for copyright issues.

A much more sane method -- which three of the four Republican presidential candidates seem to prefer -- is to put the onus on the copyright holders to prosecute the offenders. Only Santorum -- the arch dumbass, er "conservative" -- seems to think we should put copyrights above free speech.

If such a bill was to be made law, it would be better to force the copyright holders to go to court and get an injunction, then block the offending website.


By: Captain Nemo on 1/20/12 at 10:00

There you go with the name calling. You just can't help yourself can you yogi.

By: Captain Nemo on 1/20/12 at 10:05


I think there should be and needs to be something to protect artist from their product from being stolen. However as I understand about this bill is that they are doing delicate surgery with a hammer.

By: Mike Burch on 1/20/12 at 10:07


I agree that Santorum seems creepy, in fresh-scrubbed sort of way. He prides himself on being a died-in-the-wool conservative who never changes his beliefs. But when those beliefs are wrong, that can be disaster if he becomes president.

Ron Paul seems the sanest of the candidates, which will probably work against him with the Evangelicals, who prefer pie-in-the-sky ideas, such as fighting wars that can't be won because America is "strong" rather than doing the right things in the Middle East, such as not using our military to protect our "interests" in other people's oil.

Romney looked like a fish out of water when the subject of his tax returns came up. His own father volunteered returns for 12 years, setting a good example for everyone but his own son. It seems obvious there are things in Romney's returns that he is concerned about. There is no logical reason for waiting till April 15 to reveal tax returns for past years.

Gingrich's bombastic style may play better in the South than elsewhere. Women are going to wonder about his attacks on Bill Clinton when he was doing the same things himself. Santorum questioned his stability, which seems like a reasonable question.

If Ron Paul runs as an independent, it will be an interesting race, to say the least.

By: Captain Nemo on 1/20/12 at 10:14

I heard that Ginrich looked like potato sack with a tie. lol

By: brrrrk on 1/20/12 at 10:34

And the irony of all this............

Rep Lamar Smith, the Republican member of the House who introduced the SOPA bill, was just recently caught infringing on the copyright laws by using another persons digital property without their permission. I say hang him from the highest yardarm, ARGH. God, these guys are IDIOTS!!! They have no understanding of the implications of their actions.... either that, or they're just simply on the take from the likes of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or the MPAA.


By: brrrrk on 1/20/12 at 10:47

Captain Nemo said

"I heard that Ginrich looked like potato sack with a tie. lol"

S-E-X-Y!!! No wonder he gets all the babes......

By: bfra on 1/20/12 at 11:00

Really like Loner's description of Newt, fits him to atee! Nemo, he gets those babes with $$$$, without it, he couldn't get a second glance.

By: Captain Nemo on 1/20/12 at 11:01

That is funny about Rep. Smith. I suppose he thinks at what he does is exempted from the laws and moral conduct from the rest of us.

By: Captain Nemo on 1/20/12 at 11:03

Well I am hurt bfra. lol

By: brrrrk on 1/20/12 at 11:23

Captain Nemo said

"That is funny about Rep. Smith. I suppose he thinks at what he does is exempted from the laws and moral conduct from the rest of us."

It seems to be particularly troublesome for the GOP. How many times over the past few years have we heard of someone on the right using someone else' intellectual property without their permission..... whether it be a picture on their site or a song for their campaign?

By: bfra on 1/20/12 at 11:33

Nemo - Sorry! Didn't mean to slight you! LOL There are a lot of descriptions for Newt, and none could possibly be good.

By: yogiman on 1/20/12 at 12:41

Mike there's a vast difference between Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton. Newt didn't do it in the Oval Office. But then, whore mongers are whore mongers, aren't they?

By: yogiman on 1/20/12 at 12:47

Captain Nemo,

Its funny, you seem to think its okay for you to make your derogatory comments to me but at the same time, you think I should make congratulatory comments to you.

As I have said before; you get off my back and I'll stay off of yours. That's very simple and easy if you can understand it.

By: Mike Burch on 1/20/12 at 1:10


If it was wrong for Bill Clinton to cheat on his wife, why wasn't it wrong for Newt Gingrich to try to impeach Clinton, when he was doing the same thing himself?

I don't remember Clinton trying to impeach Republicans, over their love lives. I would say the greater sin was Newt's ... raging hypocrisy.

I really don't care about the sex lives of politicians, but when they hypocritically castigate other people for what they're doing themselves, I think they need to be taken down a peg or two.

And it seems likely that President Obama's morals are better than those of Gingrich, since after years of scrutiny there has been no evidence that he is a "loose man."


By: Mike Burch on 1/20/12 at 1:22


So why not admit the truth: Obama is a better man than the creeps and goofballs running on the Republican ticket. The only Republican candidate who strikes me as a man of character is Ron Paul.

Romney is obviously afraid to release ALL his income tax returns. He looks like a fish out of water whenever the subject of his money and taxes are raised. How much money does he have in offshore tax shelters, one has to wonder?

Newt Gingrich seems like a raging hypocrite, who has one standard for other politicians and another for himself. While he seems to be reasonably sharp and very cagey, what about character and stability?

Ron Santorum seems like another unquestioning "true believer." He brags about his conservative principles, not realizing that many of his ideas are prehistoric artifacts he received from the stone-age thinking expressed in the Bible.

Ron Paul is an interesting man. I think he is dead right on matters of war, our military and foreign policy. We can not only not afford to police the world, but when we try we just ignite one firestorm after another. It's hard to say what would happen domestically if he became president. But he's old, not charismatic, and has a high, whiny voice, so he may not be electable.

Can any of them unseat Barack Obama? My educated guess is "no." The real impediment to forward progress is the stone-age mindset and constant stonewalling of the Republican party. Hopefully enough Americans will see that these prospective new emperors have no clothes. If Ron Paul runs as an independent, that could draw enough votes away from the Naked Ones to hand the victory to Obama.

By: yogiman on 1/20/12 at 2:27


I agree with you on Gingrich attacking Clinton for his"fun games" in the Oval Office when he was having his "fun games" out of the office. He pulled that one off because of pure politics.

I also agree Ron Paul is the most honest man of the group. His only problem, as I see it, he simply cannot "talk" to deliver his message. Seems like he could only deliver babies and you can't talk rationally to them. Hell, even their mothers.

Barack Obama may be a "better man" than the "creeps" running the Republican, but only because he is a better liar than they.

You [say] after years of scrutiny there is no evidence Obama is a "loose" man. That brings a major question into the picture: Just what do you really know about the man?

There is all kinds of evidence he is a liar and thief, used drugs and had a "gay" life but none that he has ever "cheated" on his wife. Question: Are they married? Has anyone seen any photos of their wedding?

By: yogiman on 1/20/12 at 2:36


May I make one more remark on you comment about Ron Paul being too old for the job. Why? What makes you think so? I'm 81 years old and even with half a brain left I feel I can still do some pretty good thinking. Obviously better than those who think the man sitting in the Oval Office is in there legally.

Thinking is what staffs are for. They think for the preside on all matters and it doesn't take that much of a brain to understand what they are telling you. You also have cabinets to help in decisions.

I will vote for whomever gets the Republican nomination in order to get that usurper out of office... and those in congress running for reelection that backed with him to take that office.

By: Captain Nemo on 1/20/12 at 4:46


If I have made any derogatory toward you, it is purely by mistake. I have looked back to see where I could have made such an error, but I can not see the world through your eyes. Please tell where I made any derogatory remarks toward you.

By: yogiman on 1/20/12 at 6:55

Gimme a break, Captain Nemo.

Looking at the time, when and where you are posting your comments doesn't take a genius to understand what you are "saying" or about whom you're referring it..

By: bfra on 1/20/12 at 9:49

Nemo - You know that yogi "claims" to be a jack of all trades, but proves everyday, he is the master of "none". So now he claims to be a "mind reader", nothing new.

By: yogiman on 1/21/12 at 7:00

Wrong again, bfra.

I'm not a jack of "all trades", but I do try to be a master of all trades I engage in, and the "trade" I am in today is an attempt by the honest Americans of this nation to get a usurper out of that office. I'd be willing to bet you $10 dollars to a donut Barry Soetoro is not even an American citizen, yet Congress allowed him to usurp that office. Wanna bet?

At an Attorney General's Conference in February 1950, Harry Truman made this statement:

"The fundamental laws of this nation's laws was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings we get from Exodus and St. Matthew, from Isaiah and St. Paul. I don't think we emphasize that enough these days."

President Truman concluded with: "If we don't have a proper fundamental moral background, we will finally end up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except for the State."

So; with a man who is not even an American citizen sitting in our Oval Office with congressional approval, are you willingly ready for a CUSA?

By: Captain Nemo on 1/21/12 at 8:26


I should take my own advice and not waste my time on nothing.

By: Captain Nemo on 1/21/12 at 8:27

oops sorry bfra.

By: acluu on 1/21/12 at 8:42

Thought the NCP was changing over to the more “Nazi friendlier” Face book/twitter post, comment format?

It was noted that Google supplies special mapping and search products to the U.S. military and intelligence community, with some Google employees enjoying top secret clearance to work with the government. Google said it was "accidental" data gathering. Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, a senior Republican lawmaker, suggested that Google's data collection wasn't accidental and that it was "something to look at." Under the Democrat leadership, the FCC investigated but dropped further inquiry coincidently, just before a Google Democrat fundraiser was held. Many groups have been calling on Republican Darrell Issa to investigate Google's cozy relationship with the Obama administration.

Much of Google's business depends on pornography. For example, 25% of search engine requests are for pornography.

Google has been criticized by privacy activists and others. Recently, Google chief executive Eric Schmidt said, "We cannot even answer the most basic questions because we don’t know enough about you. That is the most important aspect of Google’s expansion." Google has attempted to "remedy" this situation by storing search information, in effect, keeping tabs on people for two years after they search. This has led Google critic Daniel Brandt to create "Scroogle.org", which runs Google searches that users conduct through his organization's personal servers to prevent Google from being able to connect any personal information to the searchers.

It would not bother me if they shut down the whole site/s, for good!
What needs to censored more than anyone is the “Freedom of the press” as most have become just a lying tabloid.
Yes, freedom of the press has over stepped the First Amendment, with all the fictional reporting and suppressing of the comments and contents when exploited.

Truth can be a bitch at times, huh.

By: yogiman on 1/21/12 at 9:18

"Freedom of the press" doesn't need to be censored, acluu. Its abusers need to be censored. And I agree, too many tabloids have become ultimate political liars.

The passing of SB 1867 by its overwhelming majority vote should bring the people of this nation out of their sleepiness and make them wide awake.

By: acluu on 1/21/12 at 10:35

When Time Inc. Editor-in-Chief John Huey was asked how his staffers made sure their stories were correct, he jokingly responded, "Wikipedia."

It's unclear if many newsrooms have formal policies banning Wikipedia attribution in their stories, but many have informal ones. At the Philadelphia Inquirer, which cited Wikipedia in an article about the death of television personality Tom Snyder last July, Managing Editor Mike Leary recently sent an e-mail to staff members reminding them they are never to use Wikipedia "to verify facts or to augment information in a story." A news database search indicates that "according to Wikipedia" mentions are few and far between in U.S. papers, and are found most frequently in opinion columns, letters to the editor and feature stories. They also turn up occasionally in graphics and information boxes.

Such caution is understandable, as for all its enticements, Wikipedia is maddeningly uneven. It can be impressive in one entry (the one on the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal includes 138 endnotes, 18 references and seven external links) and sloppy in another (it misspells the name of AJR's editor). Its topics range from the weighty (the Darfur conflict) to the inconsequential (a list of all episodes of the TV series "Canada's Worst Handyman"). Its talk pages can include sophisticated discussions of whether fluorescent light bulbs will cause significant mercury pollution or silly minutiae like the real birth date of Paris Hilton's Chihuahua. Some of its commentary is remarkable but some contributors are comically dense, like the person who demanded proof that 18th-century satirist Jonathan Swift wasn't serious when he wrote that landlords should eat the children of their impoverished Irish tenants.

Hubble Smith, the Review-Journal business reporter who wrote the crane story, says he was simply looking for background on construction cranes for a feature on the Las Vegas building boom when the Wikipedia entry popped up during a search. It was among the most interesting information he found, so he used it. But after his story went to the desk, a copy editor flagged it.
"He said, 'Do you realize that Wikipedia is just made up of people who contribute all of this?'" Smith recalls. "I had never used it before." The reference was checked and allowed to remain in the story.

Indeed, the primary knock against Wikipedia is that its authors and editors are also its users — an unpaid, partially anonymous army, some of whom insert jokes, exaggeration and even outright lies in their material. About one-fifth of the editing is done by anonymous users, but a tight-knit community of 600 to 1,000 volunteers does the bulk of the work, according to Wikipedia cofounder Jimmy Wales. Members of this group can delete material or, in extreme cases, even lock particularly outrageous entries while they are massaged.

But if that one has an agenda or lie to pass off as a true source of journalisim, then that one would understand his own deceit.

Ah, what a tangled web we do weave.

By: yogiman on 1/21/12 at 10:54


Wikipedia is simply a nickname for its original mark of Wickedpedia. They have changed their definitions to suit the reader of the subject they are seeking more than a mother changes a baby's

Want a definition? Look it up in an encyclopedia; or even a dictionary if its just a word. You'll get more accurate answers.

By: bfra on 1/21/12 at 10:58

acluu - The one that just responded to you, should know all about posting false info.. He surfs every garbage site he can find, then cuts & paste, without giving any details of where it came from and swears it to be fact. His info has been discredited on just about everything he has ever posted.

By: yogiman on 1/21/12 at 11:15


Regarding bfra's negative comments about me, let me point this out: I am strongly against a usurper in the Oval Office of our nation. And no, I am not a racist as they claim. But I could easily consider them racists because the only reason any of them have given for their vote for him was because he was black, i.e., our first black President.

As you may have noted before; I would bet $10 to a donut Barry Soetoro is not an American citizen, yet Congress allowed him to usurp that office. That should scare the hell out of every American on this planet. And the passing of the SB 1867 along with the HB 1540 should scare them a lot more.

Those bills are simply placing us under martial law. Don't they understand the military can kill and American if they rebuke the government? Wake up, folks. Read the damn bills.

I have given many factual points and sites for these "social posters" to look up. Mostly what I learned from "Barack" himself. But they apparently are so enthused about Barry Soetoro (going by the name Barack Obama) they won't even look it up. Why?

No answer.

By: bfra on 1/21/12 at 11:28

yogi is so obsessed with the word "usurp" because it describes exactly what he is, pretending to be something or somebody he isn't. He has NO proof of anything he post, even his own personal data.

By: yogiman on 1/21/12 at 11:28

A cute reality poem I just read titled: "American Court"

Faded flags, ragged in the sun,
The Stars & Stripes fly tattered.
Americans sit, waiting to be judged,
The Bill of Rights lay sadly battered.

A judge in Black, the Cops in Tan,
We citizens, shamed and weak.
Lady Justice died, so long ago,
Court payments begin this week.

Everyone pays, the State needs the bucks,
The Law keeps the cash rolling in.
Morality and law have no real value,
Visa validates the People's sin.

The Dollar is King, the Court is aware,
The Fine Schedule just went up.
Judge and State, hand in hand,
All involved, beyond corrupt.

RJ O'Guillory - author

By: yogiman on 1/21/12 at 11:34

There was an old owl, who lived in an oak,
The more he saw, the less he spoke.
The less he spoke, the more he heard,
Why can't we all, be like that bird?

Bill E Bob - author

By: yogiman on 1/21/12 at 11:39

I am an old man, who lives on a farm,
And the actions of Congress, is causing us harm.

And when they voted 'yea' on the NDAA,
Causes me to quickly, loudly say HEY!

What in the hell, are you trying to do,
Drag us into the sinkhole, along with you?

author - yogiman

By: acluu on 1/21/12 at 11:47

I hear your words yogi,
"We know all trees are plants, but we should also know that all plants are not trees".

By: yogiman on 1/21/12 at 12:19


I'll make a deal with you. You say you don't know me and obviously no one should pay any attention to what I"m trying to issue on this site. Well, I don't know you either. So on that matter, why should I accept your intentional ridicule of me when I believe you are being so ridiculous.?

I would be willing me meet with you in a public place and have a friendly chat. You could get to know me, and I would get to know you. Fair enough?

And by the way, if you can prove me wrong, I'll pay you that $10 bet to buy your gas back home. I haven't eaten a donut in a long time. I'd love to try one again.

By: bfra on 1/21/12 at 12:46

yogi - You really are neurotic, if you think you have any conversation to offer, that I would be interested in. I find facts more interesting than garbage!