Tuesday, May 01, 2007

pulp peeves

Lo and behold, a local politico wants to ban unwanted circulars from being littered unto homeowners properties.

"A Brooklyn councilman has proposed legislation that would make it illegal to distribute menus, fliers and other circulars to homes and apartment buildings that display a sign indicating promotional material is unwanted. The councilman, Simcha Felder, a Democrat, has proposed a fine of at least $50 for distributors who leave the materials anyway. Mr. Felder said his constituents had complained about the number of fliers left at their doors. His mother, he said, received a $100 fine from the Sanitation Department for circulars left on her stoop. “You shouldn’t be responsible for cleaning up someone else’s garbage,” he said."

I've long despised those advertisement companies which make it their business to defecate on your front lawn/stoop, and their hapless bottom-of-the-economic ladder stooges who in an effort to finish their route sooner, often throw multiple copies of the unwanted newspaper circulars or other assorted crap.

The best part is when precipitation melts it into a runny pulp that comes apart in your hands as you reach for them to toss them in the trash.

But I heartily disagree with Felder.

Its not my responsibility to post a sign instructing others not to litter, or to otherwise disturb my quiet enjoyment of my home. Those who want to invoke an appeal to "implied consent" in this case must show both:
a) a reasonable expectation that the advertisers truly believe that I, Joe Individual, am really interested and delighted to be a recipient of your crap
b) a viable framework which allows me to withdraw from and opt-out of your indiscriminate neighborhood blanketing

But this is certainly not the case. I cannot recall ever sharing a drink or even a dirty joke with an advertisement publisher insider, who then might have some reasonable expectation that I would like my home to be inundated with his marketing assault. There goes the case for "A".

The worse part is the lack of feedback mechanism to legitimately opt-out. You see, I tried the nice way. I followed some of the litterers back to their distribution van, and spoke to the drivers. I got the names and phone numbers of their bosses who handle distribution in our neighborhood. I begged them time and time again to skip my house, my street. But there is no master list for opt-outees. The driver who covers a neighborhood brings along no such list to instruct his poor, oft-time illiterate underlings where not to litter. And so on it goes. Irresponsible, criminal erosion of private property enjoyment with no way to withdraw your "implied consent".

And as BK Marcus once taught me about appeals to implied consent --
"But notice that in all of these cases [of genuine implied consent], there's a way to withdraw consent. In fact, the very existence of consent depends on the possibility of its absence!"

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