Today, a lot of snow fell on us here in Tacoma, and for the first time in a long while, the phrase ‘snow day’ has meaning for me thanks to Becky’s teaching career. Even so, we were doing more than staying indoors, watching RiffTrax and playing Minecraft.
Well, okay, it was mostly that. But if you happened to check our website yesterday, you would have been greeted with this message:
SOPA an PIPA threaten free speech,
even for Ask an Atheist.
It may seem odd that a show like ours would participate in
this movement. However, we believe that the freedom of the
Internet, however defined, is a large part of what makes
our modern atheism visibility movement strong.
This generation of copyright protectionism threatens that freedom.
It also places the United States on equal censorship footing
with dogmatic and theocratic nations we have repeatedly denounced on
We are also sufficiently familiar with religious privilege in this
nation to know that the fledgling atheist media will get it in the neck
long before the titanic Christian dogma factory has to concern itself.
Specifically, the vigilante protection clauses of these
bills gives religiously motivated institutions carte blanche to attack
the message of Ask an Atheist, regardless of our 1st Amendment protections.
Therefore, we stand with thousands of other Internet resources
including Google, Craigslist, Wikipedia, and Reddit by voluntarily removing
our presence from the Internet today, January 18th. Normal services
will return shortly.
For more information, please see
If you want to see it in all of it’s glory, check it out here.
While we normally shy away from political topics such as this one, this is a topic which I believe transcends most political ideologies, and clearly intersects with the message of Ask an Atheist, as we say above. Participating in activities such as these should be a rare thing for us, and I welcome any feedback you have about our participation, positive or negative.
The good news is that the stunt seems to have done the job. Becky pointed me to this Ars Technica article pointing out that as of today, PIPA has 18 new opponents, 7 of whom are former co-sponsors. I won’t pretend that we had a hand in this, but I like to think that we helped. I’d also hope that we’ve helped to raise awareness about aspects of these bills that potentially hurt our ability to be godless citizens of the United States.
For those of you who are fans of irony, as I am, it has recently come to light that Representative Lamar Smith, author of SOPA, is violating copyright law on his own campaign site.
I want to thank Mike and Becky for giving me the go ahead to do this terrible thing to our website for a day. Not only would these bills hurt Ask an Atheist, the freedom of the Internet and free exchange of information in an open cultural context is personally very important to me.
(for the record, fellow geeks, I don’t think Becky’s a regular reader of Ars Technica. or at least she never lets on if she is.)