Ahh, the media…
So I read an enjoyable – but terribly predictable – book this weekend called ‘Weapons of Mass Distraction’, about how the media ‘dropped the ball’ on Iraq. Naturally, the writer was shocked and appalled, and hinted at dark conspiracies regarding the FCC, and its impending liberalization of the media marketplace. The networks were expecting to lose $200m in their war coverage in Iraq, he glowers, and so were expecting the FCC to open up the markets so they could recoup their profits after the war. The guy heading the FCC was the son of the guy heading the military – Mr. Powell Jr. – and that media ‘liberalization’ after the war was payback for its positive war coverage and this was all terrible and so on and on.
And what did the author advocate as the solution? All the old left-wing chestnuts that will absolutely amount to jack-shit. ‘Grassroots activism’. Right. Grass is what people walk on. Letter-writing campaigns. Community participation. Argumentative distractions. The appearance of doing something – which is far worse than doing nothing. All such a load of blind, self-righteous nonsense.
Don’t get me wrong (though I admit that that’s rather easy to do!). There’s nothing wrong with speaking out and arguing passionately. In fact, it is essential! But life is short – and so, for the sake of all that is holy stop wasting your precious time! The more powerful your enemy is, the more you have to undermine the very roots of its power! Nagging the buds will never uproot the tree.
Why is the media so complacent about the government? Why, because almost everyone in the media has been educated by the government. This is at the root of it all. It’s really not so very complicated. I mean, how would critics approach the media’s portrayal of GM if every child in the entire country world was educated at GM schools? What they’d say is that the first thing you had to address was the fact that GM spent fifteen years straight pouring its shall we say limited perspective into the delicate brains of impressionable children!
Let’s say next that everyone was forced to buy a new GM car every year. What would the result be? Poor service, of course, and crappy cars. Would intelligent critics say that the solution for this was to write letters to GM demanding more quality and then go and picket GM dealerships appealing for a more positive customer experience? Of course not! They’d say: the problem, my fellow citizens, is that we are being forced to buy a new GM car every year. Get rid of that stupid rule, and GM will reform of its own accord. We won’t have to lift a finger. In other words, voluntary taxation is the only way for citizens to control the government.
The second major problem is that the media must be licensed by the government – licenses which must be re-approved every year. In other words, if you operate a radio or television station without permission from the government, you will be shot. Sure, there are rules about keeping your license, but who cares? If the government yanks your license and gives it to someone else, you’ll be out of business before your lawyer even returns your panicked message. Remember – the government has made it impossible for all but the largest institutions to use the court system, which is exactly what large institutions (and the government) want. Monopolies aren’t granted by ‘single charter’ any more – they grow like cataracts – through slow, rising, chilling misty layers of evil laws. Licenses are first among them.
The third major problem is that there are so many stupid and corrupt laws that the government can make absolutely anyone’s life a living hell. Feel like being audited? Want a health and safety inspection of your home or business? How about being implicated in a drug bust? Can the cops find something in your car or home if they really want to? No one wants to piss of the government, because you just never know where it might end up. There are swarms of mean little civil servants out there with time on their hands and bile in their hearts. So who’s really going to piss the government off? Why take the chance? So if you’re a reporter, ask the easy questions, or attack specific policies – never anything important, like the income tax or any form of media regulation.
Which brings us to – government regulation of the media. All the FCC crap. Of course government regulations end up serving the powers-that-be. What do you think the government creates regulations? To help you? To protect you from the media? I mean really! Turn it off if you don’t like it. Try that with the tax man.
No, media regulation only serves to ensure that the government will grant operating licenses to those outlets which praise it the most. And like all unholy deals, not even a whiff of it will ever make the airwaves. Not even a hint. Everything runs smooth as silk. Broad smiles and hearty cheer. Concern over things going wrong. Tough questions, drinks together afterwards. All the plump self-indulgence of the pretty and the amplified, leaning slightly forward and explaining everything to you.
All that violence requires is what Ayn Rand called ‘the sanction of the victim’ – the cloaking of civility over the sword. They force you, but they want you to believe that you have chosen.
Forget it. No salvation will come from the media, so forget about nagging it. It is owned and operated by the State. If you’re interested in freeing the media from the clutches of violence, then you must advocate the following:
1. abolishment of State education
2. abolishment of the FCC
3. abolishment of the income tax
4. and, eventual abolishment of government
Which media critics will take on the above? Only those who wish to join me in the lonely wastes of the Internet’s ill-visited corners – the crannies farthest from the mirage of power, but closest to the sun of truth.
Stefan Molynuex, is the host of Freedomain Radio (www.freedomainradio.com), the most popular philosophy site on the Internet, and a “Top 10” Finalist in the 2007-2010 Podcast Awards.