US Senator Ted Kennedy passed away on August 25, 2009 from brain tumor. His funeral was celebrated today in the “Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica” in Boston, Massachusetts, and he was later buried in the Arlington National Cemetery near the graves of this two famous brothers John and Robert.
Edward M. Kennedy will be fondly remembered as a sponsor of many laws promoting social justice and helping the poor and disabled. In my humble opinion, he rightly deserves the title of America’s Social Conscience.
Even though a few of his political positions won’t appeal to everybody, the overwhelming body of laws he sponsored helped to make life easier or at least a little bit more bearable to countless Americans and many non-Americans all around the world. Hats off for his great social achievements in the lobbyists infested and dirty world of partisan politics.
I only wished that Ted Kennedy had opposed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) abomination, instead of mindlessly voting for it in 1998 alongside all other senators. At least, to his defense, he didn’t introduce this law himself, a law that criminalizes hundred of millions of file sharers for the trivial and daily activity of non-profit copying of files; a law that already ruined the life of Jammie Thomas-Rassett who had been made an example of on the altar of unlimited corporate greed, and inhumane government intransigence. As Ars Technica put it:
The DOJ adds that Congress also wanted to “deter the millions of users of new media from infringing copyrights” by setting the awards this high, and that there is nothing problematic about this unless the amounts are “so severe and oppressive as to be wholly disproportioned to the offense and obviously unreasonable.” $1.92 million for downloading and uploading 24 songs does not reach this threshold, says the government.
Failing to oppose the life-ruining provisions of the DMCA back in 1998 in the Senate, when he could have swayed the political class towards a more sane approach towards Copyright was his only, but epic failure as a politician, as I see it. As a result of him failing to appreciate the DMCA’s ramifications, all modern culture will be imprisoned in digital vaults (DRM) and won’t see the light public domain not only for insane 95 years after the death of their authors (sic!), but often forever, since the right owners, usually corporations, can’t die, and since there has been no time limit on the DRM anti-circumvention provisions.
But everybody is entitled to make at least one big mistake in his or her life. Considering all the good that the Lion created, he’ll be remembered as a great and compassionate politician and human being. America, as we know it, will soon grow a colder, less humane and much more egoistical society without Ted at the helm of the Senate (as we can already see in this crazy Health Care debate).
We’ll miss you Ted, from all over the world!