An old Libertarian bumper sticker says: “QUESTION AUTHORITY”.
What a good idea.
The Blaze reported recently that there's about to be an EAS Test on November 9th.
“If you have ever wondered about the government’s ability to control the civilian airwaves, you will have your answer on November 9th.
On that day, federal authorities are going to shut off all television and radio communications simultaneously at 2:00PM EST to complete the first ever test of the national Emergency Alert System (EAS).”
Why should this concern us?
Well, in effect, the government will now be able to seize control of the air waves and either take them over, or completely shut them down.
That fact might not bother very many people very much, if it were not for another fact – that many of us no longer feel like we can trust our own government, which has become increasingly authoritarian since 9/11. Examples are the creation of the DHS - Department of Homeland Security, which sounds like something they might have created in 1939 Germany, and of course the “Patriot” Act, which makes cracking down on our freedom sound, oh so “patriotic”.
But in my mind, this goes back to an even more fundamental issue.
Who actually owns the air waves?
“Huh”, you might be thinking? Why of course “the public” owns the air waves, we've all been taught that since grade school, right?
But in light of the fact that we've come to realize that the “public”, as in “public schools”, has really been a nice-nice politically correct term for “the government”, as in “public schools” really equal “government schools”, why “public” doesn't sound all that nice, or like such a good idea anymore, does it? Especially when people have been sending their kids for unwitting indoctrination in the government schools, and now we get to wonder about the implication of what might better be called the “government airwaves”.
As Glenn Beck, Judge Napolitano and others have been concerned about recently, if the government can shut down the airwaves for a “Homeland Security” test, could they not also shut them down if they were, for example, to seize dictatorial powers and suspend the Constitution?
And again, I take that line of thing back to the more essential question:
Who actually owns the air waves?
You see, I've had an amateur radio license since the late 60's, right around the time I graduated high school. The relatively new science of electronics had been my hobby as a teen, since about the age of 14, and I went and got an Associate in Science in Electronics Technology after graduating high school, because electronics and radio waves had always fascinated me.
The history of the use of the air ( radio ) waves goes back much further than that, of course, to an Italian scientist named Marconi ( 1874-1937 ) who co-developed the first wireless telegraph and shared the 1909 Nobel Prize in Physics for that.
But all along, people have been carefully taught that the air waves belong to “the public” ( the government? ) and we even have to get a government license ( permission ) to use them. And I must admit, I was originally sold on the reasoning for that. Without licensing, radio and TV stations would be trying to broadcast all over each other, and what a mess that might cause.
But as with all other government “licensing” ( permission ), for example a license to own and possibly carry a firearm, what the government gives, it can also take away at its whim.
“If the government issued permits for free speech, would you get in line for one? If your local sheriff was willing to grant you permission to practice your religion – after you passed certain tests, gave your fingerprints and let yourself be photographed, would you apply? If your state allowed you to hold a political meeting, but only if you obtained the proper license and consented to having your name entered in a government database, would you lay your money down?
The proper answer is, “we don't need no stinking permits!” Right?
Then you don't need no stinking permit to exercise your right to own and carry firearms, either. If you ask the government for a permit, you are admitting you don't have a right.” – “101 Things to Do ‘Til the Revolution”, by Claire Wolfe
Quite a few years ago, as someone interested in the air waves, I became a bit miffed about a development that troubled me at the time, but didn't seem to be bothering many other people. Cell phones had been operating in the 800MHz region of the radio spectrum and some people had made a hobby of using scanners to have some fun listening in on them.
Then one day, the government came along and dictated that the manufacturers of radio receivers and scanners were no longer allowed to build equipment capable of listening in on these channels.
Most people were OK with that, but it bothered me on a constitutional level. Why?
I questioned authority and asked; If our Bill of Rights recognizes the human right to free speech, but the government can come along and tell you who you can't listen to, then does free speech really exist at that point?
Oh yeah, that woman standing on the street corner has free speech, but the government just said that no one is allowed to listen to her.
So it seemed to me that you can't truly have free speech, without also having the freedom to listen to anything you wanted to, at least in public. ( Obviously not in someone else's home, without their permission. )
Therefore, if the air waves belonged to “the public” ( The People - as the government originally wished us to take the meaning of that term. ) and not to “the government”, why should we not have the First Amendment recognized right to listen to any part of the air waves that we pleased?
I soon also realized that the people making those transmissions, if they really didn't want people listening to them ( like police transmissions for example ) could use scrambling technology to prevent it, so why would the government still be dictating that radio manufacturers were not allow to build equipment capable of listening? And isn't that just a hop skip and a jump from the government being able to tell you that you can't listen to me speaking on a street corner?
Think about that, because I think it makes this government seizure of the On/Off switch for radio and TV transmissions, even more troubling, especially in light of the fact that so many people feel that they can no longer trust this government.