What’s To Be Done With The People Who Plan To Spam Us With ‘Ringless Voicemails’?

If you are like many of the Americans who, in recent years, chose to cut the cord on your landline phone, you probably remember one of the things that finally drove you to that decision: the endless, horrible robocalls that rang you at all hours of the day. You probably knew, every time you checked your voicemail, that the chances that someone you actually cared about had left you a message were frustratingly remote. Instead, it was a litany of people trying to sell you stuff, politicians begging for your money or your vote, or CVS reminding you for the ninth time that your Klonopin refill was waiting for you to pick it up.

?Come on, CVS robot,? you thought, ?you sound like you need that Klonopin more than I do.?

Those who shifted to an all-mobile phone existence experienced a relief from this daily barrage of robocalls, thanks to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). That law included a strict mandate that your mobile number could not be targeted by robocall campaigns unless you were foolish enough to provide your written consent. But now that hard-won peace is under threat. As Consumerist?s Chris Morran reports:

A company called All About The Message (AATM) has developed technology that lets it deliver messages straight to a recipient?s voicemail without actually calling the phone. It recently petitioned [PDF] the Federal Communications Commission, asking it to declare that such direct-to-voicemail messages fall outside the umbrella of the TCPA, or to grant the company a waiver to deliver these messages without fear of the penalties that could result from violating the TCPA.

This petition has received support from businesses and politicians, particularly in the form of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the RNC.

Yes, inspired by that time that Apple forced all of its iPhone users to own a U2 album, this new technology would just quietly dump message after message into our voicemail, leaving it up to every mobile phone user to be the middleman between their outreach and your deleted voicemail folder. As Recode?s Tomy Romm reports, the argument that these awful, awful people are making to justify this hellish innovation is that, because your phone never rings, it does not technically count as a phone call, so it?s not governed by the TCPA.

Naturally, this completely ignores the fact that nobody in the world wants this, but the FCC is being challenged to do something about it. One would hope that the FCC would recognize the obvious devilry here, but you never know. The flesh is weak. And I?m willing to bet that advocates for this new robocall technology are smart enough to not robocall the FCC asking for its support ? an irony that may be lost on everyone involved in making the decision.

It could be that we may have to face a future in which ?ringless voicemails? become permissible in the eyes of the law. So this is a good time to decide what we are going to do to the first varlet who dares to try this, just as a form of pre-emptive action.

Bring back the pillory. It?s been a long while since we?ve locked scofflaws in the stocks for their crimes against the community, but it?s a very low-tech solution to your public humiliation needs and just about anyone involved in a ringless voicemail scheme can be placed in them snugly and securely. From there, the public could gather around the pilloried delinquent, jeering mercilessly as the miscreant grows sweaty in the heat and caked in the grime of the town square. The use of the stocks would be a return to America?s Puritan roots, and so it would be a ?teachable moment? for both the offenders and for young children eager to learn about our rich history.

The parade of shame. In this old form of ritual public humiliation made popular again by HBO?s hit show ?Game of Thrones,? the hoodlum involved in sending out the first ringless voicemail campaign would be made to traverse a great distance as concerned members of the public spit insults and throw garbage at the wrongdoer. This manner of punishment really brings people together by drawing on their creativity and ingenuity. Perhaps instead of forcing the offender to walk, they could be forced to ride on a cucking stool? Or they could be treated to a mock parade known as a ?Skimmington ride.? It ends up being a net benefit to the participants in the community, who get to bond over a common cause, enjoy a nice day out together and get in a little cardio as well.

The reverse robocall. Or, maybe the best way to send a message about how annoying it is to be left an unwanted voicemail is to send the message back to the offender. Once the transgressor is properly identified, crowds could gather at their home and/or place of business and ? using bells, klaxons and good old-fashioned screaming ? buffet the malefactor with useless messages about an exciting new offer or about how they need to give, give, give if they want to flip the Senate. This could continue until the targeted perpetrator breaks down, wracked by guilt, sobbing like a soul condemned, the memory of their crime permanently seared on their psyche.

Hopefully, it won?t come to this, but these are just some of the ideas we, as a society, could deploy to create strong incentives against launching a ?ringless voicemail? campaign. I?m sure we could, if pressed, come up with more ideas that might drive home the point that this proposal is evil and bad.

So, if you?re contemplating using ?ringless voicemail? robocalls to ?get your message out,? how about you take my advice and let someone else try it first?


Jason Linkins edits ?Eat the Press? for HuffPost and co-hosts the HuffPost Politics podcast ?So, That Happened.? Subscribe here, and listen to the latest episode below.  

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Edie Windsor To Receive Huge Honor From The Trevor Project

LGBTQ icon and marriage equality plaintiff Edie Windsor will be honored with the Icon Award at the 2017 TrevorLIVE New York fundraising gala.

The annual fundraising event supports the efforts of The Trevor Project, the nation?s leading nonprofit dedicated to suicide prevention and crisis intervention for LGBTQ youth.

?Edie has proven herself to be a true pioneer in the fight for LGBTQ rights for decades,? Trevor Project Interim Executive Director Steve Mendelsohn said in a statement to HuffPost. ?She has fought relentlessly for marriage equality, and remains a trailblazer and inspiration to the LGBTQ community across the world. We?re honored and delighted to present The Trevor Project?s Icon Award to Ms. Windsor for exemplifying leadership with strength, poise, courage and fearlessness.?

Windsor was at the heart of United States v. Windsor, a case that led the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and open the doors for same-sex couples to receive the full legal benefits of marriage.

?Being honored by The Trevor Project is a very big deal for me,? Windsor said. ?I?m thrilled and humbled to be recognized by an organization that does so much for our LGBTQ young people. The fact that The Trevor Project continues year after year to be there 24/7 helping prevent suicide and averting crisis gives us all a future we can believe in.?

Imagine Dragons lead singer Dan Reynolds is also slated to be honored at the 2017 TrevorLIVE New York fundraising gala, being named Trevor Hero Honoree. Imagine Dragons will also perform at the June 19 event, which will be held at the Marriott Marquis in New York.  

Head here for more information.

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Viral Hair Tie Trick Helps Stressed-Out Parents Stay Sane

Calling all stressed-out parents trying to keep it together! This hair tie trick may be perfect for you.

On May 16, a mom named Shuana Harvey shared a technique that helped her ?exercise patience with [her] oh so testy 4-year-old? on Facebook.

?I wore 5 rubber bands on my wrist from the time I got up, to the time I tucked him in just now. The 5 rubber bands represent every time you lose your cool or say something unkind to your child,? Harvey explained. ?Every time that happens, you move one band to the other wrist. To ?gain the band back,? you must do 5 kind/positive things with your child (dance party, singing a song together, reading together, etc).?

The mom said she plans to use this hair tie trick until it becomes a second nature.

?I?ve found myself so incredibly stressed out, I beat my head against the wall daily because I don?t understand why my 4 year old insists on being disrespectful and a non listener,? she wrote. ?I was to the point of crying at least every other day.?

After finishing the day with all five hair ties on the original wrist, Harvey said she felt proud of herself for keeping her cool. ?I know it?s only day one, but I?m hopeful this will help our communication skills and our relationship,? she concluded. ?If you find yourself being that ?Angry Mom,? try this!?

The Facebook post was shared over 11,500 times. Following the viral response, Harvey updated her post to note that she found this trick from blogger Kelly Holmes of ?The (Reformed) Idealist Mom.?

In Holmes? original blog post, ?The Hair Tie Trick That Will Make You Go from Angry Mom to Happy Mom,? she shares her personal experience and also offers a ?cheat sheet? for parents looking to implement her idea. 

After seeing Harvey?s viral post spread throughout social media, the blogger wrote on Facebook, ?Every time I see the original post featured somewhere new, I think of how many more parents and kids are feeling connected and having more FUN together because of this little trick.?

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Officer Involved In Tamir Rice Shooting Fired From Cleveland Police Department

A Cleveland police officer involved in the 2014 fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice has been fired from the department, city officials announced Tuesday. A second officer involved has been suspended. 

The department fired Timothy Loehmann, who was a rookie cop at the time of the shooting, and suspended Frank Garmback, his partner on the scene. Both men received disciplinary letters in January, but as Cleveland.com notes, Loehmann?s was for lying on his police application and not for shooting Rice. 

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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