The House tried to pass the “Stop Online Internet Piracy” bill out of committee today, only to run out of time. It wasn’t due to the lack of trying on the part of Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC). Rep. Watt acknowledges that he doesn’t understand the ramifications of the bill he is sponsoring, yet feels the need to press on, regardless.
It’s quite embarrassing, especially as a North Carolinian. As one commenter put it, Congress trying to regulate the Internet is like trying to build a bridge without an engineer. This misguided attack on America’s First Amendment must be stopped.
It’s of course perfectly standard for members of Congress to not be exceptionally proficient in technological matters. But for some committee members, the issue did not stop at mere ignorance. Rather, it seemed there was in many cases an outright refusal to understand what is undoubtedly a complex issue dealing with highly-sensitive technologies.
When the security issue was brought up, Rep. Mel Watt of North Carolina seemed particularly comfortable about his own lack of understanding. Grinningly admitting “I’m not a nerd” before the committee, he nevertheless went on to dismiss without facts or justification the very evidence he didn’t understand and then downplay the need for a panel of experts. Rep. Maxine Waters of California followed up by saying that any discussion of security concerns is “wasting time” and that the bill should move forward without question, busted internets be damned.