September 26, 2003

Constitutional Convention Ponders "Do Not Call" List

THE SCENE: It's a chilly March afternoon in the Pennsylvania Statehouse in 1787. Delegates from around the nation have been working since February to hammer out the particulars for a new American Constitution. Amidst the intense discussion, the delegates start arguing over the language of a proposed First Amendment.

GEORGE WASHINGTON: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the. . ."

WILLIAM LIVINGSTON: What about telemarketers?


WILLIAM LIVINGSTON: Well, I was just thinking. You know, what if that whole electricity thing Ben Franklin sitting over there discovered eventually gives rise to the invention of a talking device that brings the world together through special wires.

BEN FRANKLIN: Dude, that would be sweet!

WILLIAM LIVINGSTON: Um, yes. Well, anyway, what if some companies started using the device to bother people at inconsiderate times in an attempt to sell them useless things?

BEN FRANKLIN: That would be, like, a total bummer.

ALEXANDER HAMILTON: Yes. I concur. That would be a total bummer. We should do something, immediately, to prevent that from happening.

GEORGE WASHINGTON: Very well then. Ahem. "or abridging the freedom of speech, except for in the case of invasive marketing attempts made during dinnertime by an as of yet uninvented instant global communications system, or of the. . ."

JONATHAN DAYTON: Now wait just a darned minute! That's just too wordy. It sounds terrible. Go back to the way it was.

ALEXANDER HAMILTON: No, no, no! We have to take action on this right now. We're trying to provide a model of government for the future.

JOHN LANGDON: What about if we tack on a "Do Not Call" list somewhere towards the back?


JOHN LANGDON: A "Do Not Call" list. We'll send out a form to fill out, and every American citizen can decide whether they want to allow themselves to be bothered by invasive marketing attempts made during dinnertime by an as of yet uninvented instant global communications system. We'll gather the responses and staple them to the back.

JOHN LANSING, JR: That's un-Constitutional!

BEN FRANKLIN: Dude, we haven't written it yet.

JOHN LANSING, JR: Oh yeah. Sorry. My bad.

JOHN LANGDON: Then it's agreed. Every so often, however, we'll have to update the list to include new people to our great nation.

JOHN LANSING, JR: That sounds like a lot of extra work, and this thing is getting pretty long as it is. Can't we just trust that future generations will have the common sense to deal with this potential problem on their own?

ALEXANDER HAMILTON: I suppose that sounds reasonable. I mean, there's no way that, 200 years from now, Americans could possibly decide that telemarketing, as Mr. Livingston calls it, should be protected by the First Amendment. I mean, it sounds almost like some sort of stalking behavior, after all.

ENTIRE DELEGATION: *Laughs and nods in agreement.*

Posted by Ryan at September 26, 2003 04:16 PM
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