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Hands off that free speech - Ed Brock

OK, people, take your hands off the free speech button.

Just stop it, for goodness sake!

I mean, things like this debacle in Barrow County with the KKK and the House of Prayer coming together to protest in favor of displaying the Ten Commandments in a county building is a good example of the right to free speech. Trying to use that right as justification for phone solicitors to call and bother me about credit cards and vinyl siding is NOT a good example.

See, I despise the KKK (they're too easy) and I've no love lost on the House of Prayer (beat your kids at home and leave God out of it) and I also oppose the cause that brought them together. But I still think it's a beautiful thing to see them up there expressing their feelings.

That's who the protection of free speech is for, the unpopular. Freaks though they may be, I'll gladly speak up in support of their right to babble their inane garbage any time they want.

But I don't want them calling me at home.

What is Denver's U.S. District Judge Edward Nottingham thinking when he says that the Federal Trade Commission is violating phone solicitors rights by implementing the "do-not-call" registry? Has the altitude made him dizzy?

I agree that phone solicitors can put ads on television or march around city hall with signs proclaiming how oppressed they are by this list, but that's as far as it goes. Calling people at home is an intrusion, and people who sign up for the list are expressing a desire that they don't want to hear what those people have to sell.

Nottingham says the FTC "entangled itself too much in the consumers' decision by manipulating consumer choice and favoring speech by charitable (organizations) over commercial speech." What? The FTC has given consumers the right to choose not to be disturbed by unwanted phone calls and also given them the legal power to back up that desire.

The right of free speech is there to protect people who have something to say that can change society and form public opinion. It shouldn't be trivialized by corporate goons and their computer driven nuisance machines.

Also, those who choose phone soliciting as a means of selling their products still have numerous other ways of getting their position across to consumers, ways that don't cross the line of invasion of privacy.

But hey, maybe I'm jumping the gun. After all, there's lots of fun to be had with those who pull you away from dinner or the shower to tell you about the great deal you can get on bulk purchases of Armani socks.

Next time one calls you, try one of these gimmicks.

Answer the phone screaming. If you have a speaker phone, put them on it and explain that the speaker is shaky and you have to use the speaker phone because you're changing a diaper or cooking or something. Then interrupt everything they say with "What?" or "Say that again," speaking in a shout the whole time.

Or, when they ask if you are home, say something like "Who? Oh, I guess that's who lives here. Well, judging by the amount of mail here it seems they are gone away on a really long trip. Who am I? Well, I'm just here robbing the house."

With both gimmicks try to keep them on the line as long as possible before refusing to buy their products.

That'll learn 'em.

Ed Brock covers public safety and municipalities for the News Daily. He may be reached at (770) 478-5753 ext. 254 or via e-mail at ebrock@news-daily.com.