The Medium is Not the Malady

It’s remarkable how people sometimes blame the medium for the malady.

For example, people say, ‘Money is the root of all evil.’ It is true that people sometimes use money for unhealthy or evil reasons. For example, you might become so consumed with making money that you compromise your values, your integrity, and your very survival. Not good—but not money’s fault. If you corrected or otherwise challenged your irrational outlook, you could make the money you need, or even more through the productivity that a life of integrity unleashes. The problem in such a case is not money, but yourself.

As another example, people say, ‘Technology destroys us.’ Ridiculous. Technology is man-made and man-used. What you DO with technology determines the outcome, not the fact of having technology itself. Technology can be used to cure cancer, develop a great new convenience (such as a computer or smart phone), or to simply make an honest day’s living. Likewise, technology can be used to spread computer viruses, spread fascist ideas or do all kinds of evil.

The same applies to weapons. ‘Guns kill people,’ it is said. Or, ‘Nuclear weapons must be banished,’ the supposedly enlightened will claim. In actuality, it all depends in whose hands the guns or nuclear weapons reside. A nuclear weapon in the hands of a totalitarian and religiously fanatical dictatorship intent on destroying innocent people of a different faith, or no faith? Not a good thing. A nuclear weapon in the hands of a free republic respectful of individual rights, prepared to use weapons only in self-defense and hopefully in the interest of preserving peace through strength? Not only a good thing, but a necessary thing given that criminals and dictators will always, sooner or later, get their hands on weapons.

Blaming the medium for the malady is foolish and erroneous. Some people say, ‘I’m against Facebook on principle. People talk about trivial things on Facebook.’ Or, ‘I don’t like the Internet. People develop porn or shopping addictions thanks to the Internet.’ Again, ridiculous. People are trivial or compulsive in their behaviors because of their own choices, values and problems. Those choices, values and problems would have existed with or without Facebook or the Internet.

If we consider freedom a ‘medium,’ then you can see how freedom gets blamed for all kinds of maladies as well. In America, economic freedom is constantly under attack. ‘There are crooks on Wall Street. Therefore, Wall Street must be regulated and controlled.’ Actually, you cannot survive in the financial industry if you’re known to be dishonest. And with money in particular, dishonesty eventually comes out. Freedom actually encourages responsibility. If you’re free, you’re also out of luck if you lie or cheat and get caught at it. Customers and colleagues or bosses will punish you first and hardest. Yes, if laws are broken the government becomes involved. But even without that, or before that, your reputation collapses. Business goes away. Economic freedom gets the blame for corruption. The unspoken premise is, ‘If people were not free, then there would be no crooks.’ How ridiculous is that? Crooks find ways to get around everything. Eventually, they almost always get caught. But crooks and dishonesty will always be with us. Punishing the innocent and honest majority—those who are honest for reasons of sheer self-preservation—does nothing to prevent the existence of dishonesty.

Non-economic freedom is also starting to come under attack, even in America. A few months back, Jane Fonda claimed that the federal government should use the FCC to refuse broadcast licenses to people who criticize Obama (or at least ones she dislikes, such as Rush Limbaugh and Fox News). Religious conservatives want to use public funds to teach children that homosexuality is bad, while liberals want to use public funds to teach children that homosexuality is good. Why not just take government funds out of the mix, and even out of schools altogether? This proposal is considered insane and unthinkable, yet this proposal is the only fair and rational solution to the whole issue, not just on homosexuality but anything involving education and values. Instead, we’re left with the ‘culture wars’ and the gathering storm of some kind of red state/blue state civil war in which we’re either handed over to the gunpoint of religious fanatics or the gunpoint of leftist do-gooders. As much as these two sides differ on some issues, they readily agree that freedom is the problem.

Blaming the medium for the malady is like shooting the messenger. It’s a frankly suicidal impulse. Virtues and values like reason, science, capitalism, technology and freedom are all attacked in the name of some impossible universe in which one’s personal preferences can now rule the world. It’s psychological pathology and, in its consistent implementation, it’s pure evil. It’s sad to see more and more people in America going down this road. Left uncorrected, it will not end well.


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