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Monday, October 15, 2012

Time to Play Hardball: Seattle City Council Should Ban Delivering Phonebooks in Plastic Bags

Posted by on Mon, Oct 15, 2012 at 3:20 PM

As Cienna noted in an earlier post, a three-judge panel of the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has thrown out Seattle's first-in-the-nation phonebook delivery opt-out ordinance as a violation of the phonebook companies' First Amendment rights. I hadn't realized the First Amendment guaranteed corporations the right to dump unwanted phonebooks on my doorstep, but whatever.

Perhaps the city will appeal, I dunno, but in the meanwhile I suggest that Seattle City Council members pursue a more creative solution: Ban delivery of phonebooks in PLASTIC BAGS!

Sure, that won't stop delivery to apartment building vestibules and covered porches, but in much of residential Seattle it would make phonebook delivery impractical for nine, ten months of the year. For if there's anything more pointless in the Internet age than a phonebook, it's a soggy phonebook. Plus, the courts have already upheld municipal plastic bag bans.

Fuck you, Yellow Pages!

As for me, I intend to post signs on my property: "No Trespassing: Phonebook Deliverers Will Be Shot!"


Comments (25) RSS

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Occupy Seattle should have just thrown soggy ads for Beacon Plumbing on the ground in Westlake, they would have been protected under the 1st amendment forever.
Posted by Smart lawyer on October 15, 2012 at 3:25 PM · Report this
sperifera 2
Great idea! Come on, SCC, time to play hardball!
Posted by sperifera on October 15, 2012 at 3:39 PM · Report this
Um, I doubt you've ever fired a gun, let alone own one...

On the other hand if only you owned a very territorial dog...
Posted by Merchant Seaman on October 15, 2012 at 3:41 PM · Report this
stinkbug 4
Do they still use plastic bags?

The other month I noticed a bunch of neighbors had free tote bags on their porches and I was curious why I didn't get a snazzy tote. Then I realized the bags contained phone books (which I had opted out of).

Posted by stinkbug on October 15, 2012 at 3:58 PM · Report this
Why do you hate the 1st Amendment so much?
Posted by The 1st Amendment is for my speech only. on October 15, 2012 at 3:58 PM · Report this
Goldy 6
@3 I have fired a gun, though mostly just 22 caliber target rifles. I was taught how to shoot by Quakers.
Posted by Goldy on October 15, 2012 at 4:04 PM · Report this
@6 - You might want to step it up to something in a larger rifle caliber, most phone books can stop .22LR & pistol rounds ;)

The mental image of phone book delivery guy strapping phone books over his critical body parts to make armor makes me giggle.
Posted by Tawnos on October 15, 2012 at 4:20 PM · Report this
The city should support everyone in the opt-out registry to instead be on a "do not trespass" notification list which is delivered to the phone book companies regularly. This gives affirmative notice to the phone book companies not to trespass on the property of people who opt out. It would preserve the First Amendment rights and rely on property law instead.
Posted by RVPMB on October 15, 2012 at 4:23 PM · Report this
I do not get the decision at all...all rights have limits, and they usually end when they start infringing on the rights of others. Throwing useless, unwanted crapola onto other people's property certainly seems to count.
Posted by ryanmm on October 15, 2012 at 4:26 PM · Report this
Could you please post the address of the local yellow pages distributor so I can throw any unwanted yellow pages through their window?
Posted by Pol Pot on October 15, 2012 at 4:33 PM · Report this
I'm going to write short messages on large blocks of wood or concrete and leave them on the phonebook companies' lawns. Because apparently the right to free speech includes being able to force others to deal with it in any format you deem fit.
Posted by Marginal on October 15, 2012 at 4:46 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 12
@10 and 11,

I'm fantasizing about a citizen action where we collect all our unwanted yellow pages and dump truckloads of them in front of the distributors' places of business.
Posted by keshmeshi on October 15, 2012 at 5:00 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 13
@12 I think you mean Places of Residence.

Turnabout is fair play.
Posted by Will in Seattle on October 15, 2012 at 5:35 PM · Report this
@#6: You were taught to shoot by Richard Nixon?! Or at least his people?!

I guess that's not as strange as it sounds, between 1968 and 1974 thousands of young men were taught to shoot by Richard Nixon or at least his subordinates and .223 (5.56mm) rifles at that.

But I still think a dog would be a better option.

Or we could burn the phone books for fuel
Posted by Merchant Seaman on October 15, 2012 at 5:44 PM · Report this
So, littering on someone else's property is now 'speech'?
Posted by ignatz ratzkywatzky on October 15, 2012 at 6:32 PM · Report this
Knat 16
On second thought, maybe we should start hoarding these phone books as a potential fuel source, just in case Romney wins.
Posted by Knat on October 15, 2012 at 7:29 PM · Report this
When the pseudo-environmentalists of Seattle banned plastic grocery bags, they banned the most environmentally friendly way to carry your groceries. Which is pretty typical of a hipster wannabe city where appearances trump facts at every opportunity.
Posted by Mister G on October 15, 2012 at 9:09 PM · Report this
Long before the opt-out law, I simply called the publishers (at the time, Qwest, Verizon, etc) of the phone books and asked them to remove me from their delivery lists. I've never received a phone book since. One of them did drop off a flyer once -- it confirmed that I had requested no phone books and gave a number to call if I ever change my mind (ha!)

It can be hard to find the information, but all the phone books do include contact info for the company (on the cover or in the front section of the book usually). Well worth the time scanning for it.

Posted by opting out was always an option on October 15, 2012 at 9:21 PM · Report this
wilbur@work 19
Mister G <3 Phonebooks
Posted by wilbur@work on October 15, 2012 at 9:35 PM · Report this
#19, type English, ya textback.
Posted by Mister G on October 15, 2012 at 9:44 PM · Report this
@17 - nope, not true. Just take your groceries "to go" in one of the grocery store's convenient plastic hand-held totes. As long as you return it (eventually) it's not stealing, and there is no environmental impact at all.
Posted by jmeuw on October 15, 2012 at 10:12 PM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 22

Quite frankly, as "great" as the web is (and I get increasing frustrated with much of it each day) I've gone back to liking and wanting a Yellow Pages (and the little mini book too).

The bottom line is -- why not have it? It just simply isn't that big a deal...and after dealing with a PC all day, that whirrs and buzzes when I bring up pages in Firefox with some javascript or a plug in, even though I have the latest and must current is nice to be able to grab a physical book and see what is in there. Another thing, with this windstorm, the place is prone to blackouts. Books still work without electricity the last I heard.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe on October 15, 2012 at 11:54 PM · Report this
@17: I asked checkers at a couple of grocery stores and they said that bag usage was down about 90 percent. Of course they may be exaggerating but it seems probable that we don't need to use as many bags -- paper or plastic -- as we had been using before the new rule. Paper vs. plastic is not the point. The five cent charge provides a tiny disincentive that makes us stop using so many bags. Even the study you cite says, "Whatever type of bag is used, the key to reducing the impacts [sic] is to reuse it as many times as possible." This is a resonable experiment, and if that makes us a "hipster wannabe city," there's no shame in that. Besides, your study comes from the UK, not here. In Seattle we recycle our paper bags very effectively and we fail to recycle the plastic ones.
Posted by yuiop on October 16, 2012 at 12:08 AM · Report this
Don't think they'll stop delivering them. They'll just deliver them without plastic bags making your cleanup harder.

@22, you and plenty of other people want a phone book. Good for you, nobody is saying you can't have one. We're just saying we should have the option of telling the Yellow Pages company that they can't continue to dump garbage (what all Yellow Pages on my step instantly become) on our front steps if we don't want them.
Posted by Root on October 16, 2012 at 7:14 AM · Report this
#23, like any good "progressive," when caught in a lie you just tell a different one. The really fun thing is that, when Romney is elected next month, you'll be wringing your hands about his cynical flip-flopping, but not your own.
Posted by Mister G on October 16, 2012 at 12:41 PM · Report this

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