Friday, September 12, 2008

THE PROPRIETY OF PROGNOSIS

Zach Patton, Governing - Crystalball clairvoyants of St. Johnsbury, Vermont: Rejoice! You can once again practice your sooth-saying gifts without fear of recrimination:

Soothsaying might still be banned in some parts of the country, but St. Johnsbury has repealed the ordinance against peering into the future that it had on the books since 1966.

Fear of fraud has prompted many communities to ban fortunetelling but critics say it's not government's place to decide whether such personal beliefs or practices are fraudulent.

Nationwide, the legality of fortune-telling is a mixed bag.

Last year in Philadelphia, city inspectors shut down more than a dozen psychics, astrologers and tarot-card readers after discovering a decades-old state law that still bans fortunetelling for profit.

Also last year, Louisiana's Livingston Parish made soothsaying, fortunetelling, palm reading and crystal-ball gazing illegal; a Wiccan minister filed a challenge to the law in federal court.

Other laws are on the books or have been challenged in Nebraska, Tennessee, Florida, North Carolina and Oklahoma, said Charles Haynes, a senior scholar with the First Amendment Center in Washington.

A ban in Lincoln, Neb., was struck down by a federal appeals court in 1998 as unconstitutional.

[We faced this problem while running an inner city newspaper in Washington, D in the 1960s.. We decided to accept the ads from fortune tellers as there was no way to distinguish the accuracy of their predictions about the distant future from those offered every Sunday in established churches. After all, if you can predict what will happen to someone after they die, you certainly can predict how their health is going to be next month.- TPR]

3 Comments:

At September 12, 2008 1:08 PM, Blogger Fred Blogs said...

How accurate do you reckon fortune tellers actually are?

 
At September 12, 2008 5:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

there should be laws protecting people from their own stupidity in certain, gross instances of corporate fraud, etc.; but minor stuff like this i'm inclined to let people make the call for themselves. This reminds me of a (probably apocryphal) story about a guy being sued for running a classified ad that read "This is your last chance. Send 10.00 to PO Box---." After supposedly pulling in a tidy sum of money with this scam, an irate respondent took him to court, charging that the guy had bilked him of money. Supposedly, the judge's response was to dismiss the case, advising the plaintiff that no promises of goods or services had been made or implied in the ad, and that if the plaintiff was dumb enough to send money, it was his own problem; he had obviously not been cheated of anything. IMHO, "psychic advisors" and their ilk fit pretty much the same description, and if one is foolish enough to believe their shtick then one pretty much gets what they deserve as a consequence.

 
At September 13, 2008 4:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any psychic that the police can find and arrest is obviously a fraud!

 

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