The NDAA and SOPA bills currently making their way toward becoming law are aimed at quashing dissent.
Occupy Wall Street illuminated the power the American people have to change the political conversation by injecting economic injustice into the discourse. And real change actually came about as a result earlier this month, when President Barack Obama and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo took steps to help the struggling middle class.
But the U.S. Congress and those who seek to influence it are not so accomodating. The lobbyists who have spent nearly $100 million to push for the Stop Online Piracy Act's passage will do everything within their power to ensure that money does not go to waste. For them, the copyright-holders must be protected at all costs, including at the expense of all Americans' liberties.
But it's more insidious than that. The real purpose of the SOPA bill (and its sister bill, PIPA, in the Senate) is to target the web-based movements that have fueled revolutionaries both here and abroad.
Paranoid politicians have long believed that they cannot maintain order if the people are allowed to have a means of broadcasting their individual voices and opinions. And the events of the Arab Spring and OWS have shown that a new one has been created through the advent of the internet.
So Congress, at the beckoning of lobbyists, is attempting to create a mechanism for cutting the lines to its amplification systems. The monied interests have come up with an ingenious plan to do so, by instilling fear of piracy in ancient Congress members and uninformed voters who don't even know what a torrent is. And the not-so-fine print may just end the Internet as we know it. Cost of doing business.
SOPA is not aimed at shutting down piracy, it's aimed at shutting down Anonymous, Reddit, and even Twitter and Youtube whenever they're being used by people who want to bring about change.
Certain provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act have a similar purpose at heart. They are ostensibly aimed at al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups, and will likely lead to some unconstitutional arrests of Muslim terror suspects. But the other purpose of the indefinite detention provisions, and the reason it is before the Congress now, is to allow the government to arrest those who loudly disagree with it.
Occupiers, and potential occupiers, and anyone else who falls out of favor with the U.S. government, would be subject to arrest on just the suspicion that they might commit a crime, and no charges would ever have to be filed. They could be detained for years, and they would have no legal recourse to challenge their imprisonment. It's a dream scenario for the NYPD and other police forces who have sought to end the protests that have swept through their cities: throw them all in jail, and the private prisons will get a boost to boot.
The bottom line is the rights granted under the U.S. Constitution and its amendments are being systematically eroded via fiat, and the target is each one of us. Stay in line, and please shut up.