Letter to the editor – No-call rule limits speech

To the editor,

I appreciate the reasoning behind Mr. Cohen’s position on telemarketing by charities [Donors need a break, Philanthropy Journal, 9/30/03].

However, I strongly disagree with his suggestion that charities be included in the do-not-call registry.

An exception for charities is supportable because telemarketing by charities to those who have an affinity to the charity not only solicits financial support. Such telemarketing also provides information to the donor base.

If any limit on calls by charities is warranted, I believe it would be to prohibit those calls made to the public at large without any nexus to the calling charity.

I hope that the courts will strike down the do-not-call laws and regulations as limitations on free speech.

The regulation of such calls can be accomplished in a number of ways, such as an identifying prefix that would show on caller-ID-equipped telephones, specific do-not-call directions by individuals to specific callers, or by individuals choosing to use an answering machine as a call screener, for a nonexclusive list of possibilities.

Sooner or later, probably sooner, our populace will let the free market operate to limit the effectiveness of unwelcome telemarketers.

As people become more willing to say no to callers, the returns from telemarketing programs will wane.

Allowing the market rather than the government to set limits on these activities will both preserve individual freedom of speech and individuals’ rights to listen or not, as they choose.

I have a “dog in the fight” since I work for a foundation that sponsors calls by students to alumni and friends.

I also receive calls from three of the schools I attended and welcome the opportunity to talk with the solicitors, although I don’t always respond to requests for gifts.

Biased as I may be against regulation, my experience has been that most alumni do not object to calls and, in many instances, welcome them.

James W. Page, director of planned giving, The Citadel Foundation, Charleston, S.C.

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