Nerds' Horrible Political Slogan Is 'I Work for the Internet'S

Lo, white male computer nerds have discovered political injustice! And since it's crushing their dreams of becoming internet billionaires, they're actually doing something about it, on a site called "I Work for the Internet." It's adorable and depressing at the same time.

"We work for the Internet," the site boldly declares. "We know first-hand that the Internet powers the American dream." The internet powers the American Dream. This is certainly a development, probably related to the collapse of the last great toxic ecosystem that powered the American dream, the one involving subprime mortgages, consumer debt securitization and credit default swaps. The American dream is now apparently powered by porn and Facebook and YouTube and Ashley Madison and this here site which you are at this moment reading, and that does sound like a much more solid foundation on which to pin our collective hopes.

Toward that end, "I Work for the Internet" collects the ostensible photos and ostensible names of people who oppose the Stop Online Piracy Act, a wretched piece of legislation that would create a national blacklist of websites, assemble the list entirely outside the normal channels of due process, and jack up the liability of non-banned websites for the slightest bit of copyright infringement on the part of their users. See here for the latest.

This legislation would curb the rights of everyone online, but on "I Work" the pictured opponents are mostly pasty male nerds, often in glasses, the same sort of people who have been activating their asthma inhalers at Tumblr HQ over SOPA and who are at this very moment contemplating shutting down Wikipedia in protest. As with Tumblr, whose $800 million valuation is built on an awful lot of questionable content, there's self interest at work here; if SOPA passes, it doesn't just censor the internet, it blocks the imaginary road to riches for a great many web geeks who spend their days furiously reloading Hacker News and imagining how awesome their Clojure-and-CouchDB-powered startup will be and how Fred Wilson and Paul Graham will totally fund it.

Hey, that's fine. It's fine that this site was created by the same guys who made "Free Bieber." It's fine that web geeks and their startups sat relatively mute as Americans got assassinated by the military without trial, as people were sped from American soil to foreign nations for torture, as people were held in secret CIA prisons for torture for months on end, as thousands of people were evicted from their homes based on unconscionable legal fraud by the big banks, as Wall Street took nearly $8 trillion in federal commitments while torpedoing meaningful regulation and exerting its influence to avoid meaningful oversight. It's also fine that after people in the Middle East bravely protested repressive dictators, and as Americans camp out and protest soul-crushing unemployment, government austerity programs, and Wall Street bailouts and get arrested in near-comically-brutal police crackdowns - that at this moment, internet nerds choose to have a temper tantrum, about the process of shutting down websites.

It's certainly a bad thing, this SOPA, and defending websites against ridiculous government censorship is a just cause. But waiting until now to get in a snit about the government, and then insisting that the American dream is somehow more at stake in your fight than in any of the great number of other very important political battles that are or should be going on right now, is going to lead people to believe that this might be the cause of self-centered, melodramatic dopes, blind to their own privilege and positively leaping at any evidence of persecution. Then they'll see that right-wing media clown Andrew Breitbart has signed on to the cause (image, top right) and conclude that, yes, that's just what it is. And they'll be on to something.