Daily Me
Your Only Source for the Latest About Me

And You Go to Hell Too, Sir

June 28, 2003 - 1:50 p.m.

Guest Book

Last Five Entries:
The Party's Over
July 11, 2004
The Next Day
My Nervous Breakdown
True Confessions: My Life as a Female Impersonator
March 15, 2004
Bite Me
February 29, 2004



I had a law professor who had previously worked for the Federal Trade Commission. In his desk, he kept a document that was probably the most valuable trade document in existence, a document easily worth many millions of dollars to any company possessing it.

This document was a list of names. Internally, FTC employees referred to this document as "The List of Suckers." It was a list of persons who had been victims of telemarketing scams more than once.

I think about those people on the List of Suckers now that we finally have a National Do Not Call Registry. Because I wouldn't believe that Satan manifests himself on Earth if some telemarketing spawn from Hell didn't call me up twenty times a day to remind me.

If you're trying to sign up, you have to be patient. Yesterday, the first day that the web site was available, 735,000 phone numbers were registered, swamping the site. I was unable to connect to register my phone number. My mother was able to register the phone number for her employer, though the confirmation e-mail that was promised to arrive within minutes actually took 18 hours to arrive. However, if anyone still has lingering doubts that the internet is good for anything other than downloading pornography, I think all doubts are erased. The Do Not Call Registery is far better than pornography.

I realize that a lot of people make a living (or try to) through telemarketing. People also try to make a living through the narcotics trade and prostitution, too. And narcotics and prostitution are much less a blight on society than telemarketing. But the claims of the telemarketing industry that regulating the industry will cost jobs is bullshit. Half of the telemarketing calls I get are pre-recorded messages. The auto-dialer calls me up, and plays me a damn recording. I can't even be rude to a real person. I have on my computer software that can be programmed to auto-dial a list of phone numbers, and I have a tape-recorder. This technology is much cheaper than a person. You don't think the telemarketing industry is going to continue to pay poverty-level wages to people to continue calling when machines are so much cheaper and efficient, do you?

My father is going to miss the telemarketing calls. Never again will I hear him pick up the phone, listen silently for a minute, and then say, "But I don't want to save money. I already have too much." Or, "I don't need any money, but I could give you a loan. My rates are better than the ones you just quoted me."

I'm not holding my breath though, waiting for the phone to fall silent on October 1. Watch the news, because I'm guessing that some time in September, some sort of trade group representing the telemarketing industry is going to sue for an injunction to prevent the law from being enforced, claiming a violation of the First Amendment. They probably have a decent chance of getting a preliminary injunction while the case is being decided (arguing that failure to grant a preliminary injunction will kill the industry and make the ultimate First Amendment question moot, effectively deciding the issue before a trial).

I'm not a First Amendment expert, but I really don't think it's that difficult of a conclusion that the telemarketing industry's First Amendment argument is garbage. The First Amendment has never protected harassers and trespassers. The First Amendment does leave you entirely free to use whatever public means you want for getting your message across (though even that has some limits- you can't say false things about someone, as in libel or slander, and you can't induce someone to enter into a contract with you through fraudelent representations). The First Amendment does not allow you to barge into someone's private property, not opened to the general public (i.e., a home) to make your message heard. That's trespass, it's always been illegal, and you can be making all of the political statements you want while you're trespassing but the police still get to escort you from the property, and you still get to be fined or jailed.

Yesterday, an auto-dialer called me up, and when I picked up the phone, I got a recorded message to wait on the line for an important message. How fucking annoying is that? I hung up the phone. Fifteen minutes later, the same auto-dialer called me up with the same recorded message to wait on the line for an important message. I hung up. It called me again fifteen minutes later, I hung up, and it called me a fourth time fifteen minutes later. How is that not harassment? If I did that to any one of you, I'd be guilty of telephone harassment and/or stalking, for starters. How can a business be free to harass people when I as a tax-paying citizen can't? Finally, I waited on hold for the "important message," so I could yell at the person who finally came on, with the specific message to stop calling. And by the way, I'm normally polite to the telemarketers who call me, because I know that the only reason they are telemarketers is because there are no positions available at Hardees and they need money to by ramen, but dammit repeatedly calling me after I hang up is just rude.

But anyway, the way I look at it, the Do Not Call Registry is the same thing as posting a no-trespass sign in the front yard. It's a big, clear, un-invitation just in case you didn't realize that if you weren't invited, you're not welcome. I now have a no-trespass sign for my telephone.

What a great week in American history. The Supreme Court okays diversity and sodomy, and the FTC cracks down on hellspawn. Haley's comet will pass by before you see the government doing so many things right in one week again.

Previous Next Archives Notes Guest Book

hosted by DiaryLand.com