Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 523, June 14, 2009

Clearly, no nation with a Bill of Rights that includes
freedom of expression has any place anywhere for
anything even remotely like the FCC.

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by L. Neil Smith

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

When are people going to learn that everything government touches turns to—well, not anything as valuable as organic fertilizer, certainly.

I happen live in Fort Collins, a small city on I-25, about 60 miles north of Denver, Colorado and about 40 miles south of Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Only a year or two ago (although by now it seems like a geological epoch), employing a rooftop television antenna for VHF signals and a steerable indoor antenna for UHF, I could get Channels 2, 4, 6, 9, and 12 from Denver, Channels 5 and 27 from Cheyenne, and Denver Channels 20 and 31 from repeaters located just outside of town. None of it was perfect, it wasn't cable or satellite, but it was all okay, even in bad weather.

Of course, there was still nothing good on, most of the time.

And then came the Federal Communication Commission's bright new idea: conversion to digital—yeah, right, and now I know which digit, too.

Mind you, these are the same cretins who prevented Americans from having color TV back in 1946 because it failed to meet their aesthetic standards, and they were so pathetically ignorant about the market system they didn't realize (to the extent there was actually anything wrong with it to begin with) that the new technology would rapidly improve.

Despite the clear intention of the Founding Fathers behind the First Amendment, these morons suppressed free speech for decades under the so-called Fairness Doctrine and they still extort thousands from individuals and companies for the use of certain words on TV and radio they don't approve of. Their panties are dirtied to this day from a glimpse they caught of Janet Jackson's interestingly accoutered right nipple. They positively salivate over getting their claws on the Internet.

And when I say salivate, I mean something else altogether.

Lately these idiots are claiming a right they erroneously imagine they have to smash their way into your home or mine without a warrant and "inspect" every remote control and wireless device you have—and whatever else they happen to take a fancy to. Somebody needs to tell them they've picked the wrong segment of American history to try that in.

Clearly, no nation with a Bill of Rights that includes freedom of expression has any place anywhere for anything even remotely like the FCC.

But I have digressed.

I can't actually tell you how many TV channels we get since my wife and I reluctantly installed our digital conversion box, because it changes from day to day, even from hour to hour. The stations that used to come in best now arrive in the box shakily, skipping, hopping, pixelizing, disintegrating, breaking up into something reminiscent of Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Wassily Kandinsky (look him up), or Jackson Pollack, absurdly sensitive to the least fluctuation of the weather.

Or a passing car.

Or bird.

This is a classic case of fixing something that wasn't broken, wrecking something that worked. It is a classic case of government turning everything it touches into—but we talked about that, didn't we?

Somebody, somewhere is getting great pots of money from this mess, somehow, or a lot of power. From their incontinent haste, you'd think that invading Martians were on the way and only converter boxes could stop them. I don't know. I was busy with my own work and ignored the situation as long as I possibly could. I suppose it could be the cable and satellite companies all of this is being done for, because that's who we're going to have to turn to now if we want to keep on watching TV.

The public service spots (hundreds a week; they're _hysterical_ to get this change made) keep promising how much better the picture will be. That may even come true in the big cities. But whoever designed this system didn't give a rat's ass for the countryside. Of course the Obama government's long run plan, under the U.N.'s Agenda 21 (look that up, too; I'm not the paranoid lunatic Janet Napolitano takes me for) is to force all of us out of our beloved countryside into titanic "arcologies" (for which read "tenements") where our movements and activities can be more easily controlled. At least we'll get better reception.

So here we sit, meanwhile, clinging bitterly to our guns and religion.

Because our goddamn TVs don't work any more.

Four-time Prometheus Award-winner L. Neil Smith has been called one of the world's foremost authorities on the ethics of self-defense. He is the author of more than 25 books, including The American Zone, Forge of the Elders, Pallas, The Probability Broach, Hope (with Aaron Zelman), and his collected articles and speeches, Lever Action, all of which may be purchased through his website "The Webley Page" at

Ceres, an exciting sequel to Neil's 1993 Ngu family novel Pallas is currently running as a free weekly serial at

Neil is presently at work on Ares, the middle volume of the epic Ngu Family Cycle, and on What Libertarians Believe with his daughter, Rylla.

See stunning full-color graphic-novelizations of The Probability Broach and Roswell, Texas which feature the art of Scott Bieser at Dead-tree versions may be had through the publisher, or at where you will also find Phoenix Pick editions of some of Neil's earlier novels.


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