-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger
United States District Judge for the Western District of Louisiana, Dee Dodson Drell, has upheld the district court finding that an Alexandria, Louisiana, ordinance banning fortune-tellers is unconstitutional. Drell said that banning fortune-telling is a violation of the First Amendment’s right to free speech.
The city of Alexandria argued the business of fortune-telling is a fraud and inherently deceptive.
Rachel Adams, a fortune-teller, sued the city after a police officer issued her a court summons in 2011 for violating the ordinance. She was not surprised by the court’s ruling.
Adams claims she doesn’t charge for her services but accepts “donations.” Are the “donations” accepted prior to the services being performed?
While fortune-telling is certainly speech, can it be classified as fraud? If the clients do not have a reasonable basis to expect that the fortune-teller possesses the ability to predict the future, then the clients are victims of their own stupidity.
In criminal law, fraud is a false representation of a matter of fact that deceives, and since the future is not, yet, a fact, it is impossible for the fortune-teller to misrepresent something that is not a fact.
The “readings” associated with palmistry, astrology, card reading, and fortune-telling, are so vague that they can apply to anyone. The clients themselves, correlate what they’re being told and find “matches” that make the “readings” appear accurate. The good “readers” pick up on subtle clues unknowingly provided by the clients to further the illusion of psychic abilities.
James Randi, Hugh Laurie, and Stephen Fry: