The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) 2012 and the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) seem to be two sides of the same coin. Both pieces of legislation are, apparently, aimed at eliminating any kind of attack or even the possibility of an attack on the U.S. government and its corporate allies, a statement made by the government themselves. Essentially, the former is viewed as an anti-terrorist law and the latter an anti-piracy tool.
However, if one were to analyze the two laws - their provisions, intentions and effects - it seems they are actually more anti-American than anti-terrorist. That impression is heightened by the fact that a number of organizations, including the Tea Party Patriots, the Occupy protestors, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Amnesty International, are opposing the bill.
The argument against the NDAA and the SOPA is that if they are passed, both bills could potentially damage American citizen's human rights, individual freedom and be used as a tool to silence dissenting voices in the country.
The near-unlimited and seemingly ambiguous provisions like permission to detain without trial and on mere suspicion of terror-related activity (which is in itself a rather vague description) could usher the American state into an era of tyranny. A columnist in The Atlantic, Wendy Kaminer - a lawyer and civil libertarian - said the government could conceivably not only prosecute dissidents - it could imprison them without the bother of a prosecution. Protesters from Tea Partiers to occupiers... could face the threat of indefinite summary detention, depending on the political preferences of who ever holds power.
These arguments seem to find considerable merit, considering the fact that both the Tea Party (TPM) and Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movements, which have left the government with sleepless nights, are highly dependent; both movements have gained momentum and spirit from the libertarian principles and the fundamental rights imbedded in American Constitution.
More importantly though, these (and similar movements) have successfully explored and exploited the strength of alternate media to reach the masses... something that any activist associated with these movements will agree with. It would have been hugely difficult, maybe even impossible, for them to have gained the support they have, if there was no Facebook or Twitter.
The OWS protestors and TPM activists have spread their message among the people by posting, reposting and sharing content online, freely. In so doing, they have created a virtual network that supports their cause, allowing them to overcome hurdles and biases presented by traditional mainstream media. The SOPA, if enacted, could make it impossible to share information online, thus cutting the roots of these movements.
This is the basis for the argument that NDAA and SOPA opponents espouse - they are afraid, maybe justly, the bills will end up targeting civil rights movements rather than terrorists.
It has also been argued that the government is exploiting the spectre of terrorism - one which still holds much fear for Americans - particularly after 9/11, to meet its own hidden agendas. The proposed legislations could even control and censure thought processes of citizens, forcing them to be pro-government, always.
The ultimate fear is that America could end up being no different to countries like China, where the government wields far greater control over the minds and actions of its citizens than is perhaps healthy.
In an earlier IBTimes article, it had been argued that both the NDAA and SOPA were against the spirit of human rights. In a comment left behind after reading the article, Catherine Crabill, a supporter of the TPM, wrote:
In Hitler's Germany, as in all fascist takeovers, a certain class of people has to be demonized so that when 'terrorist acts' are manufactured, perpetrated, and blamed on the 'enemy' they can be rounded up and imprisoned, with no sympathy or regard for their fate from the general populace. The very same frame work is being constructed, here and now, right before our eyes. This act in an explicit language clearly states that even if you have regard for the fate of whosoever, that will make you a sympathizer. So what are you going to do? Speak out and risk being next? Hell no. Mission accomplished.
The question, in short, everyone is asking is if these proposed laws come into effect, who decides on the parameters? What constitutes piracy? What constitutes terrorism? What constituted support of terrorism?
The problem is that both proposed laws provide lawmakers and authorities with unhealthy amounts of power to make those decisions, potentially leaving American citizens at the mercy of military authorities.
Does anti-government also mean anti-American? If so, then there are tough times ahead for America and Americans.