Fighting Back Against the Box

Marc Fisher, Metro section columnist at the Washington Post, has always been one of my favorite writers at that paper. He's also one of the few who seems to get passionate about the city, and give me hope that someday they might decide to actually cover local events in DC with something more than the perfunctory crap they publish now. He also strikes a good balance between writing about the city and about general topics, such as in this recent column: Better to Zap One TV Than To Curse the Din

If you ever feel like public spaces are being overrun by video monitors, the idea of TV-B-Gone is appealing. I would have loved to have had one the last time I was at the airport. I was happy to wait for my flight while reading my book, but it was quite difficult; it's one thing to tune out the din of people, but the sound of television can just cut through all that and demand your attention. It's one of the reasons I can't stand to have an unwatched TV on in the house; it's like an insistent and particularly bratty child that demands that you stop and look at it.

Admittedly, the TV-B-Gone puts you in an ethically gray area; do you have the right to turn off televisions that others are watching? Perhaps not. But for a society in the thrall of the video beast, this could be seen as guerrilla warfare to save our soul.

I wouldn't use it in the airport, though. It seems to me that any slight misbehavior in an airport is all too likely to be called "terrorist activity" and get you in way too much trouble. I wouldn't mind arming some kids with them, though, to try to put a stop to the utterly evil Channel One, which is designed to give advertisers a great opportunity to start training American kids to be good consumers right there in the classroom. (Teachers are forbidden to turn it off in the classroom; it's part of the contract to have the equipment. I'd love to see students taking the matter into their own hands.)

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