At the Voice, we have been regularly following internet policy developments. We figured it would be cool — maybe even a public service? — to ID people who keep pushing for web-killing proposals such as SOPA and PIPA in this new, occasional feature: “The People Trying To Ruin The Internet.” Enjoy!
Rep. Mel Watt (D-North Carolina) is proof that you can be the ranking member of the judiciary subcommittee on intellectual property, competition, and the internet without being much of an intellectual.
Watt agreed to co-sponsor SOPA with Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas.)
His SOPA support alone, however, isn’t what makes Watt an enemy to a free web; a lot of people backed the bill and then abandoned it. Nor is his rumored luddism all that troubling; a lot of people don’t like or understand tech — especially our curmudgeonly Congress members — and that doesn’t make them bad per se.
Rather, Watt’s attitude astounds — in a bad way.
During hearings, he reportedly said, “I don’t know about the technical stuff, but I don’t believe the experts.”
As Vice‘s Motherboard noted, Watt also proudly proclaimed, “I’m not a nerd” as justification for dismissing this evidence.
There’s at least one thing Watt is pretty smart about when it come to the tech realm: He pocketed $130,000 in campaign donations from the TV, music, and movie industries during his tenure in Congress.
Watt’s office didn’t get back to multiple Voice requests for comment.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 22, 2012