Reddit gives soapbox to SOPA sponsor Lamar Smith’s opponent

Steven Nelson Associate Editor
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Social news site Reddit posted a message by former Sheriff Richard Mack of Graham County, Az. to the top of its homepage Saturday. Mack is challenging Texas Rep. Lamar Smith in his San Antonio district’s April 3 GOP primary.

This is the latest example of Reddit using its broad reach to advocate against the Stop Online Piracy Act and Smith, the bill’s sponsor.

On Jan. 18 Reddit joined Wikipedia, Craigslist, Google and other major websites in a day of protest against SOPA and its companion bill in the Senate, the Protect IP Act.  The action successfully encouraged many lawmakers to drop their support for the bills, and sapped the political will to address the issue, at least for now.

But Reddit’s promotion of Mack’s post shows that it has no intention of letting up.

“At this moment, the adage ‘Politics makes for strange bed-fellows’ has never been more true,” Mack wrote in his post. “Given the support and unexpected efforts coming from Reddit, I feel this community is owed some straight answers even if you may be less than thrilled with the one’s I’m going to give.”

Mack then answered questions posted by other Reddit users, clearly endearing himself with a strong stance against the pending anti-piracy bills.

“Government doesn’t have the authority to tell me what I can do on the internet or anywhere else,” he wrote in response to one inquiry. “The last thing I want is for the Federal government to control the internet. I specifically heard about SOPA some two or 3 months ago I thought it was a joke at first.”

Mack’s newfound political springboard included a link to his campaign site.

The top placement for Mack’s post is bound to re-ignite a debate about whether Reddit is “a community or a platform.”

In early January, a posting by Rob Zerban raised $15,000 in 48 hours after Reddit users took notice of his plea for support as a Democratic challenger to Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan.

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