Sunday, April 26, 2009

Three Questions: Chapter Seven

Ch. 7 – Controls upon the Content of Speech

[In response to the ‘History and Development’ section of chapter 7, p.194]

The very fact that regulation of commercial speech, i.e. advertising, is in question is surprising to me. As we are all consumers, living in this society of consumerism/capitalism none are exempt from the advertisers’ bright lure. These professions about certain products, then, are usually our best and quickest way [realistically] to asses a product. As long as we live in such a climate where competition between producers fuels the economy and we demand no less than choice when it comes to any number of products, it seems counter intuitive and self damaging not to try and regulate the accuracy of advertising. I’m wary of the companies who fight against regulation. They’ve nothing to worry about if telling the truth, so what are they’re intentions when attempting to stifle this sort of regulation?


“What is meant by the term ‘commercial speech’”? p. 200

Does the increased use in internet-based selling—both public and private—necessitate new dialogues concerning 1st Amendment protection? What constitutes commercial speech when it seems even people have become commodities to sell; each individual selling themselves to a company or group of people... Résumés are posted online and on internet aggregators of possible employees like LinkedIn. It seems to me, here, that the line between political and commercial speech is blurring when applied to some new sectors of personal networking. I realize that most discussion in this chapter is focused on selling external products and services from doctors or lawyers, but it seems there is a growing tendency to treat the Self as such a commodity in the field of business, even of academia.  I wonder if this mindset will reach such a point as to eventually work itself into a discussion concerning the FTC. Perhaps such a discussion would take the theme of dialogues surrounding individual promotion by doctors and lawyers.

“The commission argued that customers were ‘captive audiences of diverse views’ who should not be subjected to utility company opinions in the monthly billings.” P. 207

To a certain extent, I actually agree with this restriction on sending political messages along with monthly bills. In my mind, I picture a scenario where doctors send small messages supporting their choice of political candidate or current bill up for vote. On the other hand, the choice of doctor or other service provider is a choice at base, and I suppose one could, then, choose another. However, I think there is an etiquette and a certain level of respect toward ones client base not to bring ones own view into a context that is more about helping the client.

On the other hand, I generally tend towards a more holistic way of dealing with people—from services of law to medicine to daily business encounters. In that case, these restrictions would seem over the top and inhibitory of reaching a level of mutual understanding between client and provider that could potentially be more enriching for both parties. 

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