I was at a doctor’s office today and had to sit in the waiting room for a few minutes, listening to the blah-blah-blah noise pollution of CNN. They were crowing about how terrible Romney is and how great Obama’s been doing; no surprise there.
I rarely listen to CNN except when forced to, in doctor’s officers and airports and such (in fact, I don’t listen to TV news very much at all). I’ve become so accustomed to the CNN drone in those settings that it rarely occurs to me to ask: why always CNN? Why not Fox for a change?
Now, I’m not saying that there isn’t a public venue in the entire US where the default station might be Fox. But I certainly haven’t noticed one. Nor am I saying that public waiting rooms should play us cable news stations at all; I’d much prefer silence, especially nowadays, when at least half the people carry their entertainment with them in the form of iPods and iPhones and the like (even the occasional book is sometimes spotted, a rara avis).
But it strikes me that this hegemony of CNN as public background music is part of the reason for the nation’s leftward drift. It reminds me ever-so-slightly (or maybe not so very slightly) of the telescreen in 1984, which (if I remember correctly) could not be turned off, or the mind-shaping recordings that the residents of Brave New World had to listen to for their “education.”
“What’s the lesson this afternoon?” he asked.
“We had Elementary Sex for the first forty minutes,” she answered. “But now it’s switched over to Elementary Class Consciousness.”
The Director walked slowly down the long line of cots. Rosy and relaxed with sleep, eighty little boys and girls lay softly breathing. There was a whisper under every pillow. The D.H.C. halted and, bending over one of the little beds, listened attentively.
“Elementary Class Consciousness, did you say? Let’s have it repeated a little louder by the trumpet.”
At the end of the room a loud speaker projected from the wall. The Director walked up to it and pressed a switch.
“…all wear green,” said a soft but very distinct voice, beginning in the middle of a sentence, “and Delta Children wear khaki. Oh no, I don’t want to play with Delta children. And Epsilons are still worse. They’re too stupid to be able to read or write. Besides they wear black, which is such a beastly colour. I’m so glad I’m a Beta.”
There was a pause; then the voice began again.
“Alpha children wear grey They work much harder than we do, because they’re so frightfully clever. I’m really awfuly glad I’m a Beta, because I don’t work so hard. And then we are much better than the Gammas and Deltas. Gammas are stupid. They all wear green, and Delta children wear khaki. Oh no, I don’t want to play with Delta children. And Epsilons are still worse. They’re too stupid to be able…”
The Director pushed back the switch. The voice was silent. Only its thin ghost continued to mutter from beneath the eighty pillows.
“They’ll have that repeated forty or fifty times more before they wake; then again on Thursday, and again on Saturday. A hundred and twenty times three times a week for thirty months. After which they go on to a more advanced lesson.”