Let’s punish those spam senders and make them eat their words

I hate spam. Fortunately I don?t get very much of it at home. I have a Mac and my e-mail program is set up to be pretty strict about what it lets through. And that?s after my e-mail provider gets through filtering it as well.

However, at the Free Press, as with other many other businesses in the world, we are hit some days with a tsunami of spam?junk e-mail, for those not aware of computer jargon.

Other days it?s just a flood.

I came up with a completely unrealistic and infeasible punishment for spammers. I?ll concede that point upfront to try to defuse any critics who might make just those observations.

And I?ll admit, perhaps it?s also unnecessarily cruel and unusual. But hey, the thought police haven?t taken over yet, so I think I?m still entitled to an occasional cruel daydream about annoying people such as spammers.

The punishment for them would consist of the following: They would have to print out every single junk e-mail they ever sent?likely to be in the millions or even billions?and then eat them all.

Before they did this, however, they would have to make enough paper. This would require trees or some other material, like hemp, so they would have a lot of work to do in harvesting pulp. They can?t take the cheater?s route and use recycled paper.

Since this isn?t reality, I won?t worry about being green here.

They would have as long as they needed to execute these tasks. Say, eternity. Since I?m pretending anyway.

Ridiculous? Absolutely. But it?s rather fun to imagine it as one is wading through the constant influx of spam to get to some piece of important information someone has sent us.

In all seriousness, though, who isn?t beyond tired of the ceaseless assault of the junk e-mail?

I heard somewhere not long ago that something like 90 to 95 percent of all e-mail is spam. If that is true, then ?absurd? and ?ridiculous? don?t seem adequate when trying to describe the situation.

Now, I don?t particularly want the government to step in and legislate things. One of the few areas that I am rather conservative about is a preference for small government.

There has to be a way for the private sector to create sufficient disincentives to bombarding the populace with mountains of digital trash.

As musician, actor and comedian Henry Rollins once said, ?I wish, in litigation, in court proceedings, that you could sue for time.?

I think most of us who use e-mail could get at least a few months, if not years, added to our lives if this feat were actually possible, just from spammers alone.

But then again, I suppose it would all balance out because one person?s mission in life is inevitably someone else?s waste of time.


Kevin Hower is the resident computer guru (read geek) at the Free Press?for which management and staff are eternally grateful. He applies his considerable knowledge to the areas of production and Web-site management.

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