Mona Charen

But the privacy argument has not been urged nearly as firmly as it deserves. Leave aside the charitable-commercial distinction for a minute. Am I under any obligation, under the First Amendment, to permit a salesman or advocate into my home to express his view or urge his product on me? Of course not. When you knock on my door, it's up to me whether to permit you entry or not. It seems to me that I could, consistent with the First Amendment, adopt a policy of never permitting anyone to enter my home. I could even surround my home with barbed wire and put a huge "Keep Out" sign on the fence, right? It might not make me the most popular person in the neighborhood, but no one would suggest that I was infringing the free speech rights of the traveling salesman.

Why is it any different with phone calls, or emails for that matter? It isn't as if the Federal Trade Commission decided, without any contribution from citizens, who would and who would not be permitted to phone us at home. The Do Not Call registry was completely voluntary. Each citizen who signed up for it made the choice to block sales calls to his home.

Still, it is true that politicians conveniently excused themselves (and charities) from the restrictions of Do Not Call, and it isn't at all clear that they deserve this exemption. Political speech deserves the highest level of protection in the public sphere. But the public sphere stops at your front door.

It's extremely regrettable that a reported a 5.4 million Americans might lose their jobs due to this law (the Congress, in response to the court's decision, has rushed through legislation to permit Do Not Call), and that the economy may lose $275 billion annually. Advertisers will simply have to find more creative ways than interrupting our dinner to get their message out.


Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
 
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