I really don't like making cold calls to elected officials or anyone else--I'm always afraid I'm going to flub my "lines" and come off sounding like an idiot. I'm much more comfortable with the written word and would naturally rather write an e-mail than call a Congressman or Senator's office. But when you call, you know a real person actually received your message; it's harder to dismiss. So this morning I called my Congressman (Ed Markey, D-MA-07) and the Senator from Massachusetts who hasn't yet taken a position on PIPA, John Kerry. Scott Brown just recently announced his opposition via Twitter, and for all that I want him replaced with Elizabeth Warren, that's a good thing. I wanted to find out where they stood on PROTECT IP and SOPA, and to exhort them to oppose them.
I called Rep. Markey's Washington office first. The staffer I spoke to said that they were currently reviewing the bill, and that the Congressman wasn't likely to make an absolute decision until the Judiciary Committee was done with it, but that there were "several provisions in the bill that [they're] very concerned about." I asked him to encourage Rep. Markey to come out publicly against SOPA, and he said he'd communicate my message to him.
Sen. Kerry's staffer told me that he hasn't taken a public position on PIPA, but that he's been a "long-time supporter of an open and free Internet." I told her I'd like the Senator not only to publicly oppose the bill and to vote against it if it made it to the floor, but also to support Sen. Wyden's filibuster when it happens.
So: neither gentleman has yet taken a public position, but their staff seem to be under instructions to give anti-censorship constituents the impression that they will eventually oppose the bills, when the time is more propitious, or something. Honestly, I have higher hopes for Rep. Markey than for Sen. Kerry on this issue. I get the feeling there's a high correlation between being pro-Net Neutrality (as he is) and being against PIPA/SOPA, and Rep. Markey appears to be one of the more technologically literate members of Congress. As for Sen. Kerry--well, Sen. Brown evidently knows that supporting censorship would hurt his chances of re-election, so with luck, and continued pressure, Sen. Kerry will also realize that Massachusetts voters are against these terrible bills.
Both the staffers I spoke to were very courteous and professional, and it sounded as if they were having a busy day. The staffer at Sen. Kerry's office had to put me on hold for a couple of minutes before she could take my call, and I'd like to think the lines are being tied up by constituents outraged at what the MPAA and RIAA lobbyists' plans. If you, esteemed Reader, haven't called your Congressional representatives about this issue yet, please do so today. If you already have, please consider doing so again: a deluge of phone calls on the day of the blackout by Wikipedia et al. will increase the pressure on Congress to do the right thing here.