First Amendment, Free Press, Mojo, iPhone

Guns n' iPhones

Posted February 26, 2018
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In light of the heinous events in Florida last week, the blogosphere has been filled with self-appointed ‘experts’ rolling out their interpretations of the Second Amendment.

These run the spectrum from the Second Amendment was written to assure that slaveholders always had a militia to put down possible slave uprisings to the idea that the Founding Fathers wanted an armed citizenry that was always ready to overthrow the government if it became ‘oppressive’. Who gets to determine when the government has grown oppressive is another story.

I am not a Constitutional expert, nor do I pretend to be, but as a journalist, I have an over abiding interest in the First Amendment.

That one was most definitely written to guarantee that the citizenry was indeed ‘armed’ against an oppressive government. In the case of the First Amendment, the weapon of choice was not a gun, but rather a printing press.

The First Amendment, and indeed the Constitution as a whole, were written when the term a Free Press meant exactly that — a physical press. That was the primary piece of ‘tech’ that was tied to the best way to communicate ideas and opinions. And a press was so simple and so inexpensive, that indeed, anyone who wanted a press could have one.

The first newspapers in this country were produced by printers, Benjamin Franklin being a great example. Printers had all the gear you needed to print a newspaper, a pamphlet, a one-sheet or anything else you might want to print. So, a ‘free press’ was indeed open to anyone. And a great deal of what was printed was the voice of the citizenry standing up to the government. This is the way it was supposed to work. Printing press, weapon of choice.

Now, all this was fine until the advent of electronic media.

Electronic media changed all the rules. Printing presses may have been cheap to buy or build and easy to run, relatively, so anyone who wanted one could have one, or by walking down the street to your local printer, get access to one.

But radio, and then television were different.

Because their signal was transmitted through the air, and the EM spectrum has physical limitations, the idea of ‘everyone’ having their own radio station or TV station was impossible. (Not to mention the cost of having your own TV network — got an extra few hundred million laying around?)

So the idea of a ‘free press’ in radio and television got crushed. Instead, a tiny handful of very rich corporations — CBS, Viacom, Newscorp, ABC, Comcast,Disney — got control of the ‘free press’ — the ‘free electronic press’. and it was they who decided what the rest of us would get to see. It was they who decided what ‘news’ would get ‘published’ and what would not. It was not an oppressive government dictating to the public, it was, ironically, an oppressive handful of very very powerful corporations, in league with the government.

(You’re worried about the NRA? Last year the media and electronics corporations contributed more than $320 million to various political groups through their PACs. The NRA? $3.5 million. Scary, huh? You bet. But there’s whole lot more money in Media than in guns.)

But back to that First Amendment stuff.

If you are one of those people, (and my Facebook feed seems to feel that there are a lot of them), who believe that the Second Amendment guarantees your right to a gun so that you can armed in case you need to overthrow the government (hey, this is what they say..); perhaps you might consider ‘arming’ yourself with an iPhone or a smartphone instead.

The pen (or in this case, the phone) is mightier than the sword.

According to Business Insider, 90% of the media is controlled by just 6 corporations. That’s a bit scary. That means that all the ‘news’ that you see, all the ‘truths’ that you believe, have been filtered through 6 corporations; corporations who have their own agendas and their own interests.

This is NOT what the Founding Fathers intended when they wrote the First Amendment.

This not how any of this is supposed to work.

Now, until now, this would have been a moot point. The barriers to entry were impossibly high. The control of media was firmly in the hands of a few billionaires because it was so expensive, and the FCC was not giving out any new licenses for broadcast frequencies to the likes of you.

However…. your iPhone or smartphone is in fact all you need to produce your own news, to ‘publish’ your own ideas in video and TV. And the Internet is free and open (at least so far), so you can distribute those ideas to the world, also for free.

That’s right. Your iPhone or smartphone shoots 4K — that’s broadcast quality video. It also edits and livestreams and ‘shares’ -all for free. In fact, you already own about $10m worth of broadcast gear (1990 prices). It’s in your pocket.

You own an electronic printing press. You own a network.

Use it.

Put down your AR15 and pick up your iPhone X.

It’s actually a far more powerful tool for curbing the power of government — or their corporate pals.

“To arms!” 


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