You know, one of the constantly surprising things about following the blogosphere is the difference in attitudes and concerns that one is exposed to out here in the sticks, versus the attitudes and concerns of the imperial metropolis. Often the ideas that are the common currency of the Sasanach liberal-left leave me scratching my head, and I’m certain the feeling is mutual. This is something I often have to explain to friends over in the Big Smoke who don’t get much exposure to what animates people outside London.
Anyway, the Digital Economy Bill. Of late the left blogosphere has been paying a lot of attention to the banning of mephedrone and the Digital Economy Bill. The first I had a vague knowledge of, thanks to some rambunctious republicans up in Derry who have been taking physical action against retailers of “legal highs”; the second had barely passed through my field of vision, so I was startled to see the ruckus that’s been brewing around the issue of illegal downloads. I wasn’t aware that this was terribly important, but from what I gather it’s another bit of gormless authoritarianism from New Labour, setting out to criminalise filesharing teenagers. The reaction would then be of a piece with the new Pirate Party movements in Sweden and Germany.
And so it is that in the dying hours of this outgoing parliament, the Digital Economy Bill was passed, with opposition mainly coming from the Lib Dems plus a few Labour rebels. But yet, Norn Iron can at least hold its head high. Only one of our local MPs bothered to vote in the division, but he did vote against. Yes, it was that well-known champion of youth culture, the Rev Ian Paisley, using the last vote of his forty-year parliamentary career to lend solidarity to the users of Pirate Bay.
What did Papa Doc, not known as one of our great libertarians, have in mind? The DUP has been vague on this point, but perhaps his grandkids cajoled him into it. Then again, I’ve long felt that Big Ian was something of an anarchist at heart – he certainly enjoys tweaking the nose of authority. But anyway, at least momentarily, the libertarians have an unlikely ally. One would expect Liberal Conspiracy and such to take this opportunity to pay fulsome tribute to Dr Paisley’s support for online freedom.