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The most fundamental right

To me, the simplest, most important, and most often violated right is the simple right to be left alone. I think that's what the Supreme Court was grasping for when it came down with Roe V. Wade, and it's at the crux of so many of our other basic rights. And it seems these days that it's the one most often ignored. Here are a few examples.

Telemarketers. I recently went off about one in particular, but I want to look closely at one aspect of that conversation. The company made a point of saying that since they were working on behalf of a non-profit organization, they didn't have to abide by the do-not-call lists. Now, if I was running such a company, please, somebody, kill me. Put me out of my misery. Don't let me continue as that kind of parasite... whoops, wrong track there.

As I was saying, if I was running such a company, I'd follow the do-not-call list out of sheer common sense and courtesy. I'd reason that those people had already made a conscious effort to express their disinterest in buying things over the phone, and realize the odds that I could change their minds would be highly unlikely. But that's what separates me from the professionals -- the pursuit of the sale trumps all else. And that reminds me of one of my recurring themes -- the rationalization of the immoral by saying "it's not illegal."

Which brings me to my second example, as cited by Wizbang commenters Henry, Julie, and Suzy -- the junk faxers. They're not only immoral, but illegal -- junk faxing is specifically against federal law. And it's no longer just the concern of the junk faxers, but the people who hire them -- just ask Hooters. These junk faxers don't care that they're using YOUR phone line, YOUR machine, YOUR paper, and YOUR ink to do their advertising for them.

The third example is the relative to the garden-variety spammer, the ranter. Recently, I was among a select list of bloggers who some whackjob named Tony decided needed "enlightenment." I'll spare you the details (lovingly detailed here, here, here, and here).

First, though, a bit of background. I have several e-mail addresses, but there are two I use most often -- my Yahoo address, which I've had for years and put on every comment I make on blogs (both here and elsewhere), and my Wizbang address. I asked Kevin for that one as a Christmas present, then promptly spent two months figuring out how to access it. (I'm a hardware guy, not a software guy, dammit! And how the dickens can I permanently turn off HTML in Microsoft Outhouse?) And once I finally got it working, I found a couple months worth of correspondence waiting for me.

Now, I'm not complaining. I've gotten into several wonderful conversations through unsolicited e-mails there, as well as several good postings. So please don't read too much into this. I might not answer all my e-mail, but I do read it all -- even the stuff that gets deleted.

But Tony... Tony was something else. His rants were on the plane of a Rush Limbaugh/Michael Savage caller. Worse, a stupid and dull Rush Limbaugh/Michael Savage caller. I wrote back to him, asking him to remove me from his mailing list.

He wrote back, saying that since I was a "public figure" due to my posting here at Wizbang, and since my e-mail address was published on the main page, he had every right to write me whenever he wished. He also admitted that he hadn't bothered to read Wizbang very much before deciding we desperately needed his "wisdom." We exchanged a few more e-mails and even a phone call, where I repeatedly asked him to leave me alone and his refusing to do so. The last straw was when he said he'd be glad to stop mailing me at my Wizbang e-mail if -- and only if -- I provided him with my "private" e-mail so he could continue to "enlighten" me.

This was precisely the wrong move. I really try to be a nice guy -- it's a key part of my self-image. But momma Tea's little boy don't handle threats well. I went ballistic. I sent several complaints to Earthlink (Tony's ISP), as well as a phone call. That didn't slow Tony down, though -- I got one more of his rants. But that wasn't enough. He was fighting with Kevin at Sgt. Stryker, and decided to cc me on those complaints, too. That FINALLY got Earthlink to do something about Tony the Twit -- I haven't heard from him since.
With luck, he's now looking for a new ISP.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. "There's no law against it" isn't a defense, it's a confession. And the junk faxers don't even have that excuse.

J.

(Update: corrected to un-accuse Suzy, Henry, and Julie of being junk faxers. I really need to read this book...)


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Comments (34)

I think that's what the ... (Below threshold)
mcg:

I think that's what the Supreme Court was grasping for when it came down with Roe V. Wade

Ugh. Must you throw irrelevant little argument bombs like these right in the middle of an otherwise fine blog entry?

"... the simplest, most imp... (Below threshold)
clark smith:

"... the simplest, most important, and most often violated right is the simple right to be left alone. I think that's what the Supreme Court was grasping for when it came down with Roe V. Wade," [emphasis supplied]

Ah, but what about “the most fundamental right” of the unborn to be left alone? Didn’t think of that one, did ya? ;-)

Actually, the "right to be ... (Below threshold)

Actually, the "right to be left alone" is PRECISELY what Roe v. Wade was about, at least in the mind of Roe and her supporters. She wants to be "left alone" to kill unborn CHILDREN and not have anyone tell her that they disagree with her. I cherish my privacy, and that is why (like Jay), I have an e-mail address that is used for personal e-mail (family, school, work, ect) and one that is web-based for use on my blog and to comment on others. If at any time it gets to be a problem, I simply dump the old GMail addy and get another one.

But, I will say this, I've been employed by a telemarketing company (although I ANSWERED the phone, didn't call out), and we had STRICT rules that stated the very SECOND someone said "not interested" or "I'm on the no call list" we were to apologize for the bother and REMOVE their name from our list. We did represent some non-profit companies (charities, churches, PD's and such) and the rules were NO DIFFERENT for those accounts than they were for the "for profit" accounts. I think the issue that gets me more irate though, is that, as a Christian I am EXPECTED to "allow people to enlighten me" because they are part of the (so called) "enlightened" or LIBERAL crowd, but as soon as the debate (and I use that term VERY loosely) gets out of THEIR control, they almost always resort to calling me a racist, or ignorant, or something along those lines. Why is it that when I present a better case, they WON'T leave me alone, but proceed to hurl insults?

Jay:There's nothin... (Below threshold)
areaman:

Jay:

There's nothing worse than someone who wants to force their views down someone's throat like that. I cant stand it, especially when that person claims to be on the moral high road, etc.

This is a case of respect and civility, and that guy was way out of line.

That guy's a moron!<p... (Below threshold)

That guy's a moron!

The fact that my address is publicly published in the local phone book doesn't mean its NOT harassment for someone to come to my house and holler at me. The fact that my email address is publicly published on my website does not give dorkwads carte blanche to spam me! GRRR!

Well if you want to take th... (Below threshold)

Well if you want to take the position that the moment egg meets sperm and starts to divide, a life is created and is afforded full constitutional protections then you have a point. However you have just made anyone who takes birth control a murder, In vitro fertilization illegal (unless you only create one blastocyst at a time to avoid murder charges), any woman who smokes during pregnancy or otherwise indulges in unhealthy behavior a child abuser and you have opened the door for more government intrusion in your personal lives then you could eve imagine in your worst communist nightmare.

smoke eater:Act... (Below threshold)
areaman:

smoke eater:

Actually, the "right to be left alone" is PRECISELY what Roe v. Wade was about, at least in the mind of Roe and her supporters. She wants to be "left alone" to kill unborn CHILDREN and not have anyone tell her that they disagree with her.

Uh...last time I checked you still had the right to disagree with Roe V. Wade, and to speak your mind about it publicly.

I think Roe V. Wade was more about giving people the choice to decide what is right for them.

areaman: "I think ... (Below threshold)
Old Coot:

areaman:

"I think Roe V. Wade was more about giving people the choice to decide what is right for them."

I'm cool with that, as long as unborn "people" get a vote. Said differently, perhaps we should not kill them before they are old enough to object (or in the case of Terri Schiavo, when they are injured and unable to effectively object).

Jay, in some states interne... (Below threshold)
Faith+1:

Jay, in some states internet harrassment is a crime..similar in some ways to stalking. Seems a lot of these "enlightened" people assume a right to free speech means people have to listen to them.

Having your email address public is no more a release of your right to privacy or make it any less of a crime to be harrassed. For instance, just because someone's name and number is in the phone book it isn't automatically legal to harrass or prank call that person.

At best it means you shouldn't be surprised by the odd email or rant but it doesn't make you obligated to read or listen to it.

Check with your state on harrassment ordinances. If he is contacting you from over state lines it can even involve the FBI. People would be surprised that the Internet doesn't provide an infallible shield of anonomity they think it does.

old coot:I'm co... (Below threshold)
areaman:

old coot:

I'm cool with that, as long as unborn "people" get a vote. Said differently, perhaps we should not kill them before they are old enough to object (or in the case of Terri Schiavo, when they are injured and unable to effectively object).

I understand your viewpoint, and dont think that I'm trying to come down hard on one side or the other.

In your opinion, when does the term "person" apply, at what stage?

As for Schiavo...we all know that the problem lies in the fact that she never made it clear one way or another. You can make your assessment based on your personal belief, but there is a chance that in fact what Terry actually wanted is the exact opposite of what you think is right. I have no idea what she wanted, and personally I dont feel that its any of my, or anyone else's business beyond her family.

Don't most email programs h... (Below threshold)
Amelia:

Don't most email programs have a "Block Sender" option? Outlook Express that I use certainly does. Why not just use that? Otherwise, you might appear to be encouraging this sort of behavior. He certainly got your attention which seems to be a major objective.

The Roe v Wade reference is the biggest stretch I have seen lately, however. I would venture to guess the fetus involved might also appreciate the right to be "just left alone" to live and continue to develop. As the study of embryology advances, this 1970's attitude is becoming more and more untenable and will hopefully pass the way of other past scientific ingornaces.

It also has to be one of the oddest analogies I think I have ever seen. Upholding the scanctity of life is the moral equivalent of sending Jay annoying email. Well, maybe to you that is true but I can't really follow the logic. Interesting one, however, to say the least.

areaman: Thoughtful things ... (Below threshold)
Old Coot:

areaman: Thoughtful things to consider. When does life begin, when does it end? Why is it seemingly so easy to kill innocents, but so difficult to kill obviously evil criminals? Why does my daughter need my written permission to get her ears pierced, but not to have an abortion. My answers to those questions are unimportant compared to what our society's answers are and then how we weave those answers into our laws and daily lives.

As for Terri Schiavo, as long as there's a reasonable chance that her wishes are not known, I think we must opt for life, as the alternative is irreparable. In saying that, I am in agreement that competent adults should have the right to choose the terms of their death whenever possible.

Jay, while I certainly shar... (Below threshold)

Jay, while I certainly share your distaste for telemarketers, I find irony in a conservative expressing such support for a right that was articulated by Justice Douglas in the Griswold v. Connecticut and became the cornerstone of the "penumbra" temple built by the liberal-leaning Supreme Court and the foundation for Roe v. Wade.

Not that I have a problem with privacy rights in the Constitution, including the right to be free from junk faxes --- but (and here I don my "instigator" helmet for the fusillade to come) if there is indeed a Constitutional right to be left alone, that must also include the right to be left alone to die or the right to designate someone else to make that decision for you?? I mention this only insofar as some of the Terri supporters argue that the right to be left alone does not go so far.

(you just can't get away from it for five minutes, I know)

The right to be left alone ... (Below threshold)
Mike:

The right to be left alone dances awfully close to the so-called right not to be offended, which colleges are using all the time to impose unconstitutional speech codes. We have laws to stop harassment and the like, so I'm not sure I would agree with the fundamental right aspect.

Also, why didn't you just delete the emails on sight? Why even open them at all? No one forced you to read the emails from this idiot, so why not ignore him completely?

As far as I'm concerned a j... (Below threshold)
bullwinkle:

As far as I'm concerned a junk fax is less of an imposition than a call. Paper and ink are cheap compared to the distraction of getting a call that someone I'm paying has to answer on the chance that it may be valid. Fax machines are cheap, so are paper and ink, but whoever is answering the phone is not. It takes a lot more money out of my pocket to tie up whoever is answering my phone one time than it does for them to throw 20 faxes away at the end of the day, and throwing the faxes away doesn't prevent them from from doing their job or tie up my phone lines. The amount of unsolicited and unwanted calls I get forced me to hire someone just to screen my calls years ago, the faxes were never a problem.

I am not sure about this ri... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

I am not sure about this right to be left alone.

I do think laws could better prevent harrassing behavior.

And honestly, the one thing I often respond to, when I am giving the "well it isn't illegal" excuse, is "just because you can do it, that doesn't mean you should do it, or that it is okay to do it."

I think this actually falls in that area to some extent, moving towards harrassement.

Old Coot:I agree t... (Below threshold)
areaman:

Old Coot:

I agree that those are tough questions, but I disagree when you say that your answers are unimportant. Drawing the line with life and death and laws and rights for a large society like ours isnt easy...especially when so many different groups really feel that their answer is the right answer.

Not clear cut, ever. Thats where I stand on the Roe V. Wade thing: I can understand both points of view, and can see that both sides are passionate about their beliefs. Who can settle it?

Why don't you just block e-... (Below threshold)
Vie:

Why don't you just block e-mails from this doofus? If you are using Outlook you can block based on incoming address. Even if he is is *cleverly* spamming you from different addresses you can have Outlook immediately route to the Deleted file any incoming e-mail which contains his name in the text, or any "code" words he has a tendency to use.

Someone who *really* wants me to buy their pirate satellite TV decoder spams me daily from ever-changing addresses. I have to keep changing my block parameters to keep up with them.

Don’t be so sure about what... (Below threshold)
julie:

Don’t be so sure about what is harassment under the law. First Amendment law is rather complex. A lot of it doesn’t get fully litigated b/c who has the time or money. Occasionally, I read about groups picketing public officials or judges houses. It’s protected as political speech. I’m not sure if picketing Jay’s house wouldn’t also be political speech. Plus, if it’s protected in real life, I’m not sure how it can be illegal when done on the internet. There is no right to an isp, though, and that seems to be the best way to handle it.

Yesterday, someone mentioned in another thread that the USSC just heard oral argument on whether the issuing of a restraining order against a real nutjob who had been picketing and harassing Johnnie Cochran for years was a violation of the 1rst A. Now with Cochran dead, I'm not sure if the court will issue a ruling. If he had lived, I don't think it looked good for Johnnie.

areaman, WE can settle it. ... (Below threshold)

areaman, WE can settle it. Not 9 judges. Not ANY judges. Let us have an open and honest debate and vote for how we want abortion laws to be.

It couldn't be any worse than it is now.

Just wanted to say 'hey' on... (Below threshold)
wah:

Just wanted to say 'hey' on this thread (i'm the 'liberal' who's also had issues with this Tony asshat linked under the 5th 'here' up there).

That being said, umm, yea, there's any number of issues to get into. Frankly, though, I'm one of those liberals that doesn't like the Federal government up in my business (particularly the business of intensely personal decisions), and since I'm not one of those kind of people gifted with a womb, I'll leave the decision on what to do with one to those that have them.

You know, all 'freedom' like.

--
There's nothing worse than someone who wants to force their views down someone's throat like that. I cant stand it, especially when that person claims to be on the moral high road, etc.
--

I agree with that one. It was one of my big objections to invading Iraq. You folks see the 38 people released from Gitmo after being held in prison for 2 years without trial and at the personal behest of President Bush today?

Also, I've got more Craaazy Tony emails to post some day. The guy's a total nut, but at least he's a right-wing nut. ;-)

Here's a<a href="http://www... (Below threshold)

Here's a link to the Cochran case and some related materials --- the thread julie mentioned earlier was probably from Volokh, who wrote about it recently.

This was some former employee of Cochran's who had it in for him and picketed outside his home, calling him all sorts fo names and being a generall pain in the ass. Funny, sort of.

WOuldn't it be great if we could get a law passed making it a tort to be an asshole? I'd offer my services for free, just to write the definitions section of the bill.

By the way -- I like that Roy published the guy's home telehone number and encouraged people to call him.

rightwingsparkle:<... (Below threshold)
areaman:

rightwingsparkle:

Let us have an open and honest debate and vote for how we want abortion laws to be.

I'm all for open and honest debate. Where should we start?

smoke eater:<p... (Below threshold)

smoke eater:

Actually, the "right to be left alone" is PRECISELY what Roe v. Wade was about, at least in the mind of Roe and her supporters. She wants to be "left alone" to kill unborn CHILDREN and not have anyone tell her that they disagree with her.

Uh...last time I checked you still had the right to disagree with Roe V. Wade, and to speak your mind about it publicly.

I think Roe V. Wade was more about giving people the choice to decide what is right for them.

Areaman -

I never said that I was told I don't have the right to disagree, what I said was that when I am debating on abortion, sep. of church and state, first ammendment, or something like that, the debate eventually comes to a point where one party no longer can defend their position. I am not bragging when I say that normally, I put the other person at that point, and then typically get called "a racist" or a "sexist" or "ignorant" or something more colorful. What I'm saying here is that when I debate abortion with one of the "enlightened" people of the "tolerance crowd", I normally am in a debate with someone who is very IN-tolerant of my view point. I'm not being told I "have to" be quiet, I'm simply being BLATANTLY INSULTED for daring to disagree.

smoke eater:Wha... (Below threshold)
areaman:

smoke eater:

What I'm saying here is that when I debate abortion with one of the "enlightened" people of the "tolerance crowd", I normally am in a debate with someone who is very IN-tolerant of my view point.

Funny how intolerant "tolerant" people can be huh? I know what you're saying...its really childish when people resort to blatent insults like that. Nothing constructive occurs when that crap starts.

What it means to me when people resort to that stuff is that they cannot step outside their own point of view and consider what someone else thinks.

Anyone who acts like that toward you isnt worth wasting time with. Usually people who resort to insults and name calling arent really looking to actually discuss anything.

smoke eater:that s... (Below threshold)
areaman:

smoke eater:

that said, i dont think that statements like this really open up a rational discussion about the issue:

She wants to be "left alone" to kill unborn CHILDREN and not have anyone tell her that they disagree with her.

Now, I understand where you are coming from morally, and why, but you have to admit that your statement is a little oversimplified and emotional.

There's more to it than women just wanting to go out and kill babies and you know it.

That kind of a statement will set alot of people off, which is fine if thats your intent. But if you dont want to end up in a shouting match then I suggest you take a different route.

Ha, Jay, this reads like yo... (Below threshold)
-S-:

Ha, Jay, this reads like you're saying that julie, henry and me ARE JUNK FAXERS!

You wrote: Which brings me to my second example, as cited by Wizbang commenters Henry, Julie, and Suzy the junk faxers.

Because I care for you, I know you don't consider me (or julie or henry) to be junk faxers....but it sure reads like that! Argh!

~;-p

On a personal note (continu... (Below threshold)
-S-:

On a personal note (continuing)...one of the most offensive trolls who visited my blog, BIRD, was this person using an I.D. via Blogger of "Kevin" and he wrote that he was "(there) to challenge (me)" (and then continued on to explain that he was making his appearances as someone to educate, enlighten, to use "Tony"'s word...that his presence was some sort of special visitation by someone with something of intellectual worth to bestow upon me, a poor grunt so far beneath his special place and the like.

He/she/it would also not depart my blog/commenting on my website when asked and asked numerous times, and it did take sevearal telephone calls to his I.S.P. to bring about his departure (just suggesting that there were coincidal events that took place, although I have no idea what brought what about).

It actually, in retrospect, seems sad that some people are quite so careless. But, fact is, some are. Sorry for your experience, about which I empathize.

Jay: about email, go downl... (Below threshold)
-S-:

Jay: about email, go download Thunderbird by Mozilla (Google it) -- free download, simple, fast, works great "right out of the box."

And then remove/uninstall Outlook Express (or whatever other program) you are using to access and read your email.

You can forward all your email to/through the Thunderbird program and read it on your desktop (with the Yahoo address, it has to be a paid email account before you can forward it), while you can almost certainly forward the one provided by Wizbang.

Anyway, Thunderbird allows all sorts of fine rules to be written (by end user) for their email including options to delete whatever you don't want from the server/s and never even download it, or whatever...and by very accurate, special rules you write (far more specific than Outlook Express provides, or that most webbased readers allow either).

I use Thunderbird Suzi, wo... (Below threshold)

I use Thunderbird Suzi, works great :)

oh, and if you're interested in a REAL case...the very first SPIM arrest. This 18 year old kid sent 1.5 million messages through instant messaging on Myspace.com

Pretty sad ain't it?

Yeah, Henry, it's sad.... (Below threshold)
-S-:

Yeah, Henry, it's sad.

Is it dollars that motivates the behavior of Spimmers and Spammers or is it something else? I think it's something else with dollars as bait.

the thread julie mention... (Below threshold)
julie:

the thread julie mentioned earlier was probably from Volokh,

No, the thread was from Wizbang.

Because I care for you, ... (Below threshold)
julie:

Because I care for you, I know you don't consider me (or julie or henry) to be junk faxers....but it sure reads like that! Argh!

~;-p

Wadda ya mean! I'm an endless loop, baby! And Henry's a little loopy. :p

hey I resemble that...... (Below threshold)

hey I resemble that...




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