A common declaration in intellectual circles is that the American people don’t care about their freedoms as long as they get money or entertainment. But is that true?
The top three bills searched for on Thomas, the online database of the U.S. Congress, each pertain to civil liberties. The National Defense Authorization Act takes up two of those top three spots with its Senate version (S. 1867) and its House version (H.R. 1540). Interest in the NDAA persists, despite the fact that it was already passed by Congress in December 2011, because of its provisions empowering the government to indefinitely detain anyone without charge or demonstration of proof — the sort of action that people used to criticize communist regimes for. The other bill rounding out the three most-read in America is H.R. 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act (informally known as SOPA). This bill appears to have provisions that allow private corporations to shove citizens’ websites entirely off the Internet without due process or the demonstration of any actual injury.
Americans aren’t just reading about NDAA and SOPA. They’re demonstrating. On January 18, a number of websites will be blacking themselves out to protest what they see as a new regime of Internet censorship. On February 3, Americans will flock to Congressional offices around the nation, issuing demands that indefinite detention provisions be rescinded.
Americans are paying closer attention to lost liberty than they have in years. Is this the beginning of a reversal?