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Do Not Call List

2003-10-01

Category: politics

Some parts of the telemarketing industry have launched an attack on the new “Do Not Call” registry. They claim that it violates freedom of speech. Given that it only applies to businesses and not to charities or political callers, they may have some room to complain, but not much.

As far as having special rules for political groups and charities, we already do that in other areas. That may have set a precedent that will be hard to overturn. In some areas where gambling is illegal, churches are allowed to have raffles or bingo or the ever popular “Monte Carlo Night.” Of course, any boy knows talking to the priest in private is a gamble. (Yea, I know it was a cheap shot but I’m feeling lazy today.)

That brings of to the issue of freedom of speech. The simple response is that this does not in any way impair their right to free speech. Here’s why. The freedom of speech pretty mush say you can say what you want and express yourself provided that you are not directly causing actual harm to someone. Things like yelling, “Fire!” in a crowded theatre are a threat to the health and life of others so it is not protected speech. Likewise, claiming something false about your competitor for the purpose of causing a lack of income or other form of hardship is against the rules.

What is protected is the expression of ideas. If you don’t like someone, you can say that you don’t like them. This right is protected regardless of who that person is. Unlike Baathist Iraq, where saying bad things about the president would have gotten you shot or worse, in the United States you can complain about the president all you want.

So why would the Do Not Call list be violating the free speech of the telemarketers? It doesn’t. They can still say anything they want to say. Every telemarketer still ahs the right to tout the greatness of what ever product has just been assigned to them.

It has been said by many others before but obviously needs to be repeated. The right of free speech guarantees that you can say anything you want, but it does not guarantee you the right to make people listen. You have the right to curse the Democrats as much as you care to, but you cannot hold someone down to make them listen. Likewise, you cannot go into someone’s home and tell them things without their permission. That’s the point!

Telemarketing is intrusive. We already have laws against door-to-door sales people. Those people are considered disreputable, whether they are or not, and are prohibited. They same is true with telemarketing.

But what about all the jobs that may be lost if telemarketers can’t call people? That’s a good question. Let me ask you this, what about all the jobs that are lost because we prohibit prostitution? Did you say that’s not the same? Why not? It’s just people trying to provide a service in exchange for money. Isn’t that what telemarketers do?

It’s no the same, you insist, prostitution is immoral!

Ok, if not prostitution, just think of all the jobs we could provide through drug trafficking. The production and distribution of cocaine and heroine could employ many people and is supposed to be very profitable.

That’s immoral too, you say.

So, if something is bad in the eyes of the community, you say it can be prohibited even if it prevents people from working in those fields. Well, given the number of people who signed up for the Do Not Call List, I would have to say that the community opposes telemarketing. By your logic, then, we can prohibit it, even if it costs jobs.

That seems to make wonderful sense.


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