The weekend before last while operating the Pennsylvania QSO Party, I noticed spots on the DX cluster for the “South Dakota Tea Party“. At first I thought it was a joke, but Googling I found this contest announcement on the ‘zed. The contest organizer claims that this contest has “an emphasis limited government and there are no rules.” Extra points are offered for things like having a valid concealed weapons permit, a hunting license, or fishing license. I’m not sure how this relates to limited government as all of these are issued by government agencies, as are amateur radio licenses. (Several of the posts in this announcement thread have disappeared; I’m not sure why.)
For those in amateur radio blogademia outside of K/W/N land, the tea party in the United States is a political movement that has sprung up since the current president took office. The tea party started out as a supposedly independent grassroots movement, but has clearly emerged as a right wing conservative Republican organization funded by commercial interests. You can see footage of them here and here protesting taxes and healthcare reform. Google “tea party signs” and make your own judgement.
While it appears this QSO party is the creation of a handful of amateurs and is somewhat an informal thrown-together event, and albeit on that armpit of an amateur radio forum known as QRZ, this is the first time I’m aware of an operating event with a political theme. As if it wasn’t enough to have non-stop right wing politics in 80 meter roundtables and on amateur radio forums, now we’re luring people into working stations in a somewhat rare state under the semblance of a political movement and agenda. It’s distasteful and not in the spirit of amateur radio.
Having politically-oriented operating events could open the door to a whole new realm of contests and special event stations, both conservative and liberal oriented that would offend just about everyone. Can you imagine having operating events such as the Obama Re-election Party or the Sarah Palin QRO Sprint? How about the National Rifle Association Worked All Free States Award or the QRP Pro-Choice Contest? And while we’re bringing politics into amateur radio, why not religion? How about a Mosques On The Air weekend, or a Westboro Baptist Church Koran Burning special events station? I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. We don’t want to start an arms race of political and religious on-the-air events in amateur radio.
This may come as a surprise, but I did participate in the South Dakota tea party event. I made no contacts, but since there are no rules I awarded myself 10 billion points and I made a clean sweep of all counties in South Dakota. Such is life without rules. Perhaps next year I’ll actually get on the air, but make up my own callsign in the spirit of limited government and regulation, and political inanity….