is it all right to go sniping with a TV-B-Gone, and if so what are the limits?
Here's my take on it.
First of all, I don't believe in telling others what to do (except of course, for example, to stop beating that child with a stick). So my views about whether or not it's a good idea to watch TV apply only to me. That's the first point.
Second of all, I don't think that TV is inherently bad, but people simply watch far too much of it. Once it's on, it requires a kind of passive attention which makes it difficult to switch off. Also, a lot of clever people spend a lot of time thinking of ways to get you to not switch off.
I watch shows via BitTorrent, which means I choose what to watch, and I can watch it at a time that suits me. I download a lot of high-quality documentaries and so on. I also get comedy shows and silly popcorn movies for when I want to shut down my brain cells and be mindlessly entertained. The point is that I make that choice, not the TV schedulers - and because I can stop a show and resume it at any time in the future, I do just that. I don't have to sit glued to the box for fear of missing something.
I like not having a TV, and I find I have a lot more time for things like reading, writing and interacting with real live humans instead of the phosphor-dot variety. That works well for me. I certainly wouldn't respond well to being made to watch a compulsory period of TV every day, and so I can imagine that other people don't like to be told not to watch TV if they want to - or to have it forcibly taken away, or switched off by something like the TV-B-Gone. I don't think that's the way to get people to watch less TV, if that's what you want.
Albert Schweitzer wrote that 'Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.'
The trouble is, of course, is that people are lazy and unobservant and disinclined to follow our good example. Schweitzer's point (and mine) is that they're even less likely to do the right thing if you just tell them. In fact, people have a natural mulishness which tends to influence them to the opposite of whatever they're being told. Anyone who's tried to get a child to go to bed knows what I'm talking about.
If your friends and associates start to wonder how it is that you have so much free time and read so many books and belong to so many clubs and societies and have mastered so many crafts and hobbies, they might start trying to emulate you, but you should probably keep quiet about not having a TV and make out like it's a big secret that only the inner circle are supposed to know. People go crazy for that type of thing.
As far as switching off TVs in public places goes, I don't think there's any serious argument to support that. Just vote with your wallet and go patronise another establishment that doesn't have a TV. It's none of our business whether a bunch of strangers choose to watch TV or not.
Which is not to say that I don't find such a device extremely tempting. I'd like one which also disables cellphones, jukeboxes, and SUVs.