Saturday, August 07, 2010

“Bumper Sticker”

c. 2010 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

The Icehouse Books mailbox has always been a dependable conduit for reader comments, county correspondence, and advertising literature. But recently, material of a different sort appeared in that postal slot.

It came from the Media Research Center. Enclosed was a free gift, and an attached fundraising letter:

“Dear Rod… Displaying this bumper sticker on your car or in your office tells your friends, coworkers, and neighbors you know better than to believe the liberal media’s lies and distortions. Your effort to help spread the word about the liberal media’s blatant bias is vital to the future of our nation… We’re providing tens of thousands of free ‘I don’t believe the liberal media’ bumper stickers to Americans across the country. We’re sending them at no charge because we realize how important it is to spread the word. But in truth, these stickers aren’t free. Please consider supporting this effort with a tax-deductible gift today using the enclosed reply card.”

There was no mention of where the gift item had been manufactured. I took a long breath, then finished the plea for cash:

“Your support is especially important at this critical time as the media have become even more brazen in their liberal bias. A $25 gift will help us put these bumper stickers on forty more vehicles. $100 will spread this message to over 150 vehicles. We’d like every member of the liberal media to see these every day on roads and highways across the nation!”

The letter was signed by Brent Bozell, Founder and President of MRC.

At first I thought of passing the sticker to Carrie Hamglaze, a local friend who typically has a dozen or more colorful, conservative messages on the back of her car.

But then, a burst of inspiration appeared. Again, I opened the letter. And words began to flow:

Dear Mr. Bozell,

Please accept my thanks for your gift. However, I am not in the habit of putting stickers of any kind on the bumper of my vehicle. In addition, were I to display your message in my home office, no one but my dogs and a few neighbors would notice its presence. Therefore, I humbly decline.

While I am sympathetic to the idea that corporate media outlets provide a version of the news that is not necessarily accurate or useful, I doubt that a bumper sticker campaign will rectify that situation. Indeed, one might argue that the rise of Internet technology has made traditional sources of information nearly beside the point.

YouTube has a much bigger audience than any of the ‘dinosaur’ news organizations. Think of it as C-SPAN with a sense of humor and a pulse. If the old adage that ‘content is king’ still holds true, then their website is golden.

The idea of putting political slogans on automobile hindquarters seems terribly 1970’s in outlook… too dated for most people to follow in an age when news travels instantaneously on cell phone networks and across television screens at McDonald’s.

People like myself live paycheck-to-paycheck in an economy that is shrinking. For many years, we’ve watched manufacturing jobs go overseas while our elected officials bickered amongst themselves about partisan responsibility. We felt disgust as the government spent billions of dollars to bail out wealthy bankers and insurance moguls after the consequences of their own mismanagement pushed our financial system to the brink of collapse. And we have become indifferent to political action committees that raise lots of money for people who, in the end, enrich themselves and their friends while peddling books on CNN or Fox News.

To be sure, part of the problem is us – most Americans are much more likely to watch President Obama when he appears on television with Jay Leno than when he holds a formal conference with the press. Perhaps our chief executive should host a variety program like ‘Halo Presidente’ by Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez. Discussing national issues while singing, telling jokes, and dancing with Hooters waitresses might raise the level of citizen interest in government. But… I digress.

I am a Libertarian who believes that Thomas Jefferson was right when he said ‘I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion.’

Put that on a bumper sticker and I just might affix it to my vehicle, after all.

Yours Sincerely, Rod Ice

I also enclosed a subscription form to The Maple Leaf with my reply. It seemed proper to trade one request for citizen attention with another.

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