Saturday, January 24, 2009

Using Ham Radio For Political Purposes

The conservative blogosphere is all agog over Obama's advice to Republicans to "stop listening to Rush Limbaugh".  One particular commentary I ran across (on the "Hot Air" website, apparently a conservative political site I've never heard of before) was the suggestion to use ham radio to "keep in touch" and "coordinate resistance activities".  While such use of ham radio is not explicitly forbidden, at least in the United States, and there is certainly is a lot of political talk on at least some ham radio bands, there's at least a historical understanding that the use of amateur radio frequencies for overtly political activity is not consistent with the purpose of the amateur radio service.  (Anybody here remember the Student Information Net?)

More practically, our dear conservative friend should be reminded that there are also liberals in the ranks of amateur radio operators, and we will be able to hear you and react accordingly.  Remember, encryption is illegal in the amateur service.

For that matter, your permission to use the amateur radio service is granted to you by the government, which is (as you have been complaining about almost continuously since January 20th) is now under the direction of President Obama.  If you think Obama is going to shut up Rush Limbaugh, or other conservatives, by force, it's not really that much more of a reach for you to conclude that he'll also revoke your ham radio license.

I, for one, would like for the amateur service to be free of political considerations that don't directly relate to the amateur radio service. I know that my politics differ from those of many of my fellows in the ham radio hobby, but I would like to think that we can set aside our political differences in favor of our shared passion for radio, at least whenever we're in the shack and in the club meeting hall.  There's plenty of other places you can talk politics.