by Hugh Faulkner

Do we need to make laws against distasteful behavior or do we need to expect tolerance from ourselves? A recent news article grabbed my attention. It said something to the effect that the world’s most prolific Spammer, one who sends unsolicited email, was getting out of the business for good.

Eating Spam
Sandford Wallace, known by many as the “Spam king” (and also “Spamford Wallace”) is giving up on the idea of spewing out hundreds-of-thousands of unsolicited emails. His company, Cyber Promotions, has been kicked off one ISP after another and doesn’t currently have a supportive ISP through which to do its business.

Receiving unsolicited email is a baneful thing, sometimes telling us about “deals of the century” or methods to make $50,000 from home. Embarrassingly, some email even finds its way into your mailbox promoting sexually explicit sites – “meet Russia’s sex-crazed ladies in waiting” or some other such farcical thing. Whether you’ve ever been to such a site or not, the emails often infer that “you were sent this because you’ve shown an interest…”

A recent MSNBC interactive survey asked whether or not Spam should be outlawed. Little to my surprise, the results showed that 80% of the respondents thought there should be a law to protect them from this unwanted mail.

I’m not sure if it’s human nature, whether it’s US citizens only, or whether it’s just this generation, but we seem to be a people wanting laws to do that which we could easily do ourselves.

The Non-Solution
Take the recent term limits initiative. While I personally dislike that there are career politicians, I do believe that We The People hold the key to limiting Congressional members’ length of stay. Why do we need a law when we hold the power to vote people out of office? The answer is quite simple, of course. Given that some 20% of the eligible population votes in US elections, we desire to overcome the apathy of the public with laws – giving up the power we inherently have, that power that we don’t exercise.

The flag burning issue is another wacky idea. While I might personally detest someone burning a flag, I’m mature enough to understand what the flag represents. Yes, it’s the emblem of our country and yes, it’s a piece of cloth. No individual flag carries anything sacred with it except for “Old Glory” and that flag hangs in the Smithsonian behind glass — safely out of the arms of those who want to burn its representations. The other, ordinary, replicas of Old Glory are not stained with the blood of those who fought to preserve our freedom. What those men and women fought for were the ideas of the country; the liberties we cherish; those things spelled out in the Document of freedom.

The Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is enduring. Within it, we find the freedoms and the philosophies upon which this country is built. Since its adoption, which happened only after the inclusion of the Bill of Rights (the first 10 amendments), it has been modified 17 times. These amendments include abolishing slavery (13th amendment, 1865), granting women the right to vote (19th, 1920), denying the use of a poll tax to keep the poorer of the population from voting (24th, 1964)

I’m concerned about those who are so willing to tinker with our Document just to protect against a few wackos who disrupt the peace. Were we to outlaw every bothersome behavior, using the Constitution as the mechanism, we would dilute the beauty of the foundation of this country. While we might do away with unresponsive Congressmen, flag-burning protestors, or disgusting Spammers, we would no longer have a document which follows the Constitution’s first paragraph.

“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Let “We The People” care for ourselves on trivial matters. Let us turn on our email’s Spam filter; let us proudly display our patriotism; let us exercise our vote. Let us leave our Constitution alone.

The Library of Congress has all the United States’ historical documents online. Go to Thomas and read away.