Sunday, November 07, 2004

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TV's Everywhere! You, yes you, are responsible for what you see!

Ann Althouse writes, in her excellent Althouse blog:

"TV-B-Gone. You know, I don't like TVs in restaurants and a lot of other places, but what makes someone think he should be allowed to turn off other people's TVs? Obviously, he must think the no-TV preference is so morally/aesthetically superior to the preference for TV that he has the right to reshape the environment even inside someone else's business place. Is it worse than getting a no-smoking ordinance passed? Of course it is. It's just one guy with a universal remote control on his keychain going about behaving sanctimoniously." Althouse - TV-B-Gone

My Response to Ann Althouse...

Being conservative oriented, I agree completely that a person certainly has no right to enter a private establishment and adjust it to his or her preferences. Philosophically speaking, my turning of their TV would be the same as my deciding to re-arrange the tables. It's just not my place, and if I don't like the TV on then I can just get up and leave.

However, I personally don't own a TV, don't allow one in my house, and don't allow my children to watch TV. Unfortunately, I think there's very little material suitable for a family currently playing on TV, tremendous material that clearly is not suitable, and to find the material that is requires effort and controls that generally don't exist. (As opposed to, for example, the Internet where I can apply those filters and controls that I find appropriate for my personal and family moral and religious choices.) I do consider this unfortunate, as the medium clearly offers much possibility.

So, in current society I find a bit of a problem. While indeed I can depart from the private establishment that has the TV tuned to material I consider inappropriate, now I find TV in public and semi-public establishments that I can't avoid. For example, the airports through which I travel now have TV's posted in every waiting area and gate area. The train station I use for my daily commute has the same. My physician sent me to a commercial lab for a blood test. Long wait, 50 people, and of course, TV. On an interesting side note, I find travelling through heavy traffic areas at night with many mini-vans and large SUV's now having TV's playing for their passengers to be very distracting (as the bright light and motion out their back window naturally attracts the human eye).

I find it to be somewhat reminicent of George Orwell's 1984, with TV's everywhere. My office building has them in the elevators, and at Best Buy last week I saw them now available built in to refrigerators. The only Orwellian step lacking is the law regarding turning them off. (The bi-directional Orwell feature is covered by the current proliferation of camera's.)


I consider it my personal responsibility to control what I see, hear, and read. I choose not to watch extreme violence, to see pornography, to hear rap music or other things that denigrate women or the value of people, etc. I have no problem, when public places consider it appropriate to push their viewing choices on me, to push back.

Perhaps in Madison you haven't yet seen such a proliferation, if so, your fortunate. Here in Northeast, it's hard to avoid.


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