Sunday, October 05, 2003


Sometimes it requires a finely honed sense of irony in order to be able to keep up with current politics and not run screaming from the roof of the nearest tall building.

In his article Ask not what telemarketers can do to you of 31 Aug, Dave Barry published the toll-free number of the ATA, a large telemarketing association. This organization is one of several that is opposed to the National Do Not Call Registry. The registry is, to my mind, a neat and good idea. If you're on it, telemarketers cannot call you. If they call you anyway, they have to pay an 11,000$ fine.

The telemarketers claim that this registry is somehow a violation of their constitutional rights. I find this argument hard to swallow. Remove the telephone from the argument; now the telemarketers are asserting that salesmen have the right to walk into your home at any time they please.

In any case, the ironic part: after Mr. Barry published the ATA's number, their phone began ringing off the hook, at inconvenient times. It got so bad that they disconnected their phone number.

If this were all, it would merely be funny. But no, it doesn't end there. Apparently the ATA wrote a rather nasty article about Mr. Barry in a direct marketing journal. Highlights from that article can be found in Mr. Barry's column of 05 Oct, So what's their hang-up?

Take home message: telemarketers want to be able to call you whenever they feel like, but it's inconvenient for them and unpleasant when we return the favor.