That Will do Mr. Leno!

Of course Jay Leno has no sense of shame, but even so … this is really beyond the pale.

Substantively, I don’t like the result of the two court decisions [*] putting the “Do not call” list on hold. People ought to be able to protect themselves against unwanted intruders into their homes.

Legally, I’m not sure whether either of the two judges who have now ruled against the law was right.

The ruling that the FTC needed Congressional authorization seems at least plausible (and said authorization was forthcoming forthwith). The Constitutional argument seems a far fetch: I suppose there might be something in the notion that allowing charitable pitches but not commercial pitches is “content-based discrimination” and thus a First Amendment violation, but it seems to me that the law selects categories of speech rather contents. Surely making a distinction between a charitable solicitation and an attempt to sell something isn’t the same as permitting Republican candidates but not Democratic ones to do telephone banking, which is, I take it, the sort of situation the content neutrality doctrine was designed to prevent. And how the court could find that the law served no privacy-protection function is beyond me.

But for Leno to suggest that harrassing phone calls be made to the judge’s home — and of course enough knuckleheads were listening so the judge had to take the phone off the hook — expresses a kind of contempt for the rule of law that is really quite troubling. Making calls designed to harrass or annoy, as opposed to making telemarketing calls that harrass and annoy as a predictable side-effect, is already against the law.

NBC needs to curb its dog.

I’d like to suggest that Leno leave the militia crap alone and stick to comedy, but of course he hasn’t actually said anything funny since sometime in the first Bush Administration.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

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