Joshua Kopstein, writing in Dear Congress, It’s No Longer OK To Not Know How The Internet Works, getting angry with Congress on the SOPA hearings:
It’d be one thing if legitimate technical questions directed at the bill’s supporters weren’t met with either silence or veiled accusations that the other side was sympathetic to piracy. Yet here we are with a group of elected officials openly supporting a bill they can’t explain, and having the temerity to suggest there’s no need to “bring in the nerds” to suss out what’s actually on it.
This used to be funny, but now it’s really just terrifying. We’re dealing with legislation that will completely change the face of the internet and free speech for years to come. Yet here we are, still at the mercy of underachieving Congressional know-nothings that have more in common with the slacker students sitting in the back of math class than elected representatives. The fact that some of the people charged with representing us must be dragged kicking and screaming out of their complacency on such matters is no longer endearing — it’s just pathetic and sad.
In The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776–88), Edward Gibbon famously placed the blame on a loss of civic virtue, the cultivation of habits of personal living that are claimed to be important for the success of the community, among the Roman citizens (thanks Wikipedia).
Free speech, a wise and working government, enlightenment and intellectualism are some of those civic virtues that made the USA great, and the citizenry of the USA pushed these upon Congress. But these civic virtues are no longer being upheld by the citizenry or Congress.
Seems to me, history is repeating itself right here, right now, at a much faster rate.