Writers can hold their heads up

I mean even the worst writers.  “Black hat” writers, in google-speak.  Congress has passed laws against spam.  But they can’t pass laws against hiring rapists and murderers without drivers licenses or against exploiting teens to sell magazines door to door.

…for tough questions, Buckley refers reporters to the NFSA’s Washington, D.C., attorney, Dan Smith. Smith has lobbied for the group, most notably in 2000, when legislators proposed the federal Traveling Sales Crew Protection Act. The bill was a response to a 1999 wreck in Wisconsin that killed seven agents and paralyzed another. It occurred when the 20-year-old driver of the van — whose Iowa license had expired and who previously had his Wisconsin driving privileges suspended — saw a police car and panicked. Not wanting to get busted again, he tried to change seats with a passenger while driving 80 miles per hour. The coordination was a bitch. Twelve passengers were ejected. The owner of the company the crew worked for never skipped a beat — she just hired a bunch of new kids and started up under a new name. Smith was the guy who handled the lobbying against the proposed safety act — lobbying that worked.

The bill called for making sure crews stayed in hotels that met certain safety guidelines, and making the companies keep an itinerary of where their crews were at any given time. Such a schedule would have helped when, in Houston in 2005, a sales agent raped a 17-year-old mentally retarded girl who answered the door of the apartment she shared with her mother. To gain her confidence, that agent acted as if he had a disability as well. If the Traveling Sales Crew Protection Act had passed intact, there’s a very good chance authorities would be able to find out which crews were operating in Houston on June 5, 2005. As it is, the case remains unsolved.

There is a national will to criminalize behavior that annoys your inbox but when it comes to small stuff like killing, raping, looting, and fraud–hey, we can’t legislate everyone’s private business.  By the way, I’m not in favor of spam.  But I think the rhetoric against direct mail (“intrusion marketing”) of often overblown, especially in light of the alternatives.

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