One of the keys of a free society, especially in the 21st Century, is communications. The current novel coronavirus crisis and the Beer Flu Panic are demonstrating – again – the truth of this statement. Whether or not we are in a “National Emergency” or not, we need to communicate. Simply, widely, efficiently. And without someone or something censoring unpleasant or undesirable information.
And government doesn’t like that. It (They) want to be the “go-to” source of information. They want to control what we hear, even more than they want to control what we say.
For decades, especially in times of emergency, one of the critical methods of modern communications has been ham radio. It is one of many methods, true. It has a very small (“select”) group of practitioners, but for decades they have provided vital service in providing communications around the earth. Indeed, for more than 30 years, ham radio has been used to provide internet communications through packet transmission.
But for government, this is dangerous. Government regulates ham radio – you have to have a license to operate, and the FCC can take legal action if you operate without one. And you have to have training to get and hold a license. But no government agency controls what you say or transmit – or hear from other ham operators.
And there are 765 THOUSAND Amateur Radio Operators in the Fifty States (and DC). Licensed ones. As long as they have power (including solar or whatever) and their equipment, and relays to overcome terrain obstacles, they can communicate and no one can really limit what they say and report. And there are many ham operators OUTSIDE the Fifty States (although many are expatriate Americans). It is a worldwide communications network, unlike CBs, AM/FM, and even the internet, which depends on far too many links and intermediate points.
But now local governments and state governments seem to fear this uncontrollable means of communications. And what to get rid of it, or at least strictly limit it.
Starting with the People’s Democratic Republic of California (Alta). According to Technocracy News, California has declared that ham radio is obsolete and is demanding that repeater infrastructure must be removed from public land.
Although this was reposted by Freedom’s Phoenix (Thanks!), I realize that Technocracy News is a website that always hypes the negative and exaggerates the threat, and that may be the case here. However, a more trusted source, a popular ham radio show, reports this clearly: you can view the video here. Loosing repeater stations on state lands is a serious problem, but as far as I can tell, the FedGov is not (yet) doing that. And of course California (unlike, say, Nevada or Utah) has a lot of private land.
This news was published a few weeks ago, but in light of the current crisis and panic, amateur radio – ham radio – is more important than ever. ANYTHING which lets us get information which is not controlled, massaged, or invented by government is critical. How much different would this current crisis have been if the people of Wuhan in China had more ways to communicate with other Chinese and the rest of the world.
And of course, this is far from the only threat that free speech – open communications – faces from government. Big and small, national and state and local. But do not doubt. The loss of ham radio IS a serious threat to liberty.