L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 53, August 15, 1999
The Medium Is A Massage
by L. Neil Smith
Special to The Libertarian Enterprise
Thirty years ago, a briefly popular but now nearly forgotten Canadian
academic, Marshall McLuhan, made some observations about human
communications, some of which have outlived their creator.
For example, he was the one who coined the term "global village",
although he never knew how cogent that idea would become following
the advent of the internet. He also originated the concept of
"linear" and "nonlinear" media -- similar today to what we think of
as serial and random access systems, applied to things like
newspapers and books.
The most famous McLuhanism was that in modern communication, "the
medium is the message", that what television communicates is, well,
... television. As near as I can make out, what he meant was
that when we sit down to watch TV, that's exactly what we're
doing. We're not sitting down to watch Dan Rather (be still my
stomach) or even Buffy the Vampire Slayer (be still my ...
never mind), we're simply sitting down to watch TV, without
much regard to the actual content.
In his day (I was young then, only starting on the long road to
becoming a major social annoyance), I thought McLuhan was an
overrated pseudo-intellectual. Looking back, there may have been a
little to what he said. For example, one of the reasons this
culture's in such a sorry state is that, instead of listening to talk
radio to hear the ideas of Ken Hamblin, Gordon Liddy, Rush
Limbaugh, Mike Reagan and their guests, many listen to talk radio to
hear talk radio, a sort of daily auditory wallpaper that enfolds and
comforts them and validates their own ideas without challenging any
of their prejudices.
Of course liberals -- make that, "left-wing socialists" -- already
rely on this, dedicating every second of the media they control, TV
and the movies, to advancing their evil and stupid agenda without
disturbing what they imagine is their viewers' ideological slumber.
But it's vastly more interesting (in the Chinese sense) to watch the
conservative -- make that, "right-wing socialist" -- Rush Limbaugh
apply the McLuhan principle. Each year his daily broadcasts have
grown less challenging, more predictable, and ... I guess the only
word is "soporific". Apparently the Formerly Fat One sees his life's
work as preventing an increasingly disgusted GOP rank and file from
bolting a party that deserves it more than any other party has in
history. (Yes, including the Commies when they signed their
non-aggression pact with Hitler. The low, cowardly, crawling,
yellowbellied, abject, obsequious, sniveling, pusillanimous
surrender of Senate and House Republicans to Bill Clinton on every
vital issue of the day is fully as reprehensible and disgusting.)
What this requires is allowing his callers to discharge their anger
safely, calming them down, and labelling those who won't be calmed
down -- perhaps because, unlike Rush, they still have something
resembling integrity -- "kooks".
Rush used to rub people the wrong way -- and there was great value in
that -- but now he's just the national masseur. Unfortunately, that's
not what got him where he is, and it marks the beginning of the end
for him as a shaper of America's political future. Perhaps he's even
satisfied to sacrifice himself that way and retire.
But in the words of Patchett and Tarses, "I couldn't live like that."
Any attempt to pass or enforce an unconstitutional law -- especially
any law that violates the first ten amendments to the Constitution,
commonly known as the Bill of Rights -- is a crime punishable by ten
years in prison and a ten thousand dollar fine for each offense
(Title 18 U.S.C, Sections 241 and 242). If you'd like to see
that law enforced, go to http://www.smith2004.org and make your
[Now here's a good idea! -- ed.]
State to Back School Informants - (RALEIGH, NC) -- The state's
Secretary of Crime Control and Public Safety says the courts will do
all they can to protect students who act as paid informants against
the drug trade at school. Secretary Richard Moore says a group called
Scholastic Crime Stoppers offers cash rewards to students who will
inform on drug activity or illegal weapons. He says the organization
is growing, with over 70 chapters across the state. Moore agrees that
the drug trade is a serious criminal enterprise, and there should be
some concern about encouraging school children to inform on these
people. Moore says Crime Stoppers is a private organization that
raises money from donations.
Source: Yahoo News
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