If you’ve been following the news about online piracy lately, you probably have heard about SOPA. You also probably know that it is a pretty big deal being debated by the United States government right now and lots of people are closely watching what happens next. Naturally, you really want to believe that the people who will determine the future of online censorship and free speech are taking it seriously.
What you hope to not find out is something like this:
We are debating the Stop Online Piracy Act and Shiela Jackson has so bored me that I’m killing time by surfing the Internet.
In case you missed that detail, he tweeted that during the hearing.
The remarks by King (R-IA) did not go unnoticed by the subject of his post, Rep. Shirley Lee Jackson (D-TX). Shortly thereafter, Lee Jackson replied to the remark during the hearing:
I have no reason to think that anybody cares about my words, but I would offer to say that Mr. King owes the Committee an apology,” Jackson Lee said during the hearing. “I’ve never known Mr. King to have a multi-tasking capacity but if that is his ability, I do think it’s inappropriate when we are talking about serious issues to have a member of the Judiciary Committee be so offensive.
Sensical enough. So of course King apologized and the hearings proceeded unperturbed and order was restored. Civility prevailed.
Hah. Please tell me you believed that. Really?
This is reality: King wasn’t present at the time Jackson Lee made her remarks but she was asked by her fellow Representatives, including SOPA-championing Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), to withdraw her remarks so as to not use the word “offensive.” A back-and-forth aside about the word “offensive” ensued but, meanwhile, Jackson Lee wasn’t the only one to notice King’s tweets:
Wow. Just wow. # SOPA markup just went way off track. Jackson Lee calls out Steve King for “offensive” tweet. A first in a markup?
The debate to remove or replace the word “offensive” continued for hours and effectively brought any debate on SOPA to a grinding halt. Because this is more important than the future of Internet-y freedoms. And people wonder why Congress has been branded “do-nothing.”
In the end, King offered a mea culpa to Lee Jackson and took responsibility for initiating the distraction that kept the U.S. government from addressing important matters at hand.
Judging from the many responses of my critics, they’ve never heard of multitasking and need to, in the words of Cain, get a sense of humor.