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