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Web Darkens to Protest Proposed Legislation

Anti-piracy bills would censor Internet

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As you might have noticed, several websites, including Reddit and Wikipedia, have gone dark today to protest proposed legislation that would give the federal government and movie and music companies the power to severely censor the Internet. If you’ve paid any attention to this issue, you know that virtually everyone but entertainment industry insiders and the formerly respectable newspapers they hold in their clutches expresses a level of concern that ranges from the furrow-browed to the screaming-out-loud.

There are many rational arguments against the legislation. But there’s another, emotional, and particularly Jewish one. As I’ve written before, there’s something deeply Jewish about the contemporary Internet, or Web 2.0. The new web, as novelist Lev Grossman poignantly put it, is “a tool for bringing together the small contributions of millions of people and making them matter,” a massive community without a center or a hierarchy that shares, constantly questions, and endlessly debates, and occasionally reforms, its values and rules. Which is to say, it’s all very Jewish.

All that would go away should the new bills be passed and control of content and expression placed at the discretion of the courts. We who have thrived and survived by keeping information unfettered and available for debate should do whatever we can to see to it that every new technology allows us the same freedoms.

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Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.


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Web Darkens to Protest Proposed Legislation

Anti-piracy bills would censor Internet

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