There are two distinct types of Free Speech in the American government. Constitutional Speech and Commercial Activity. One of the biggest differences between these two forms of expression is that the former is protected by law while the latter is not. The most common and well known example of Constitutional Speech is free speech on the floor of Congress. However, other types of speech such as a petition to a federal agency, or even filing a lawsuit are also protected by law.
Commercial Activity, on the other hand, is not protected by law. It is my strong belief that commercial speech and its promotion constitute an unfair trade. For example, I personally do not believe in astrology, numerology, crystal ball reading, or palm reading. But these beliefs do not affect me legally, or in any way shape or form, so I cannot sue anyone for noncommercial speech regarding those topics.
Yet, one might say that psychic abilities are somehow “uneven from” the laws of civil society and free speech. This would seem to make the practice of fortune telling or of using tarot cards somehow “unlawful”. Well, I would disagree tam linh huyen bi. The City of Azusa, California, has placed an ordinance in an upcoming city council meeting that will allow psychics to perform their services within the limits of the law, and if they are performing acts that are considered “fortunetelling” or “psychicalytical”. In short, it appears to be an unfair law, and the ordinance will most likely be challenged in court.
If the court were to decide against this ordinance, what would be the effect? The courts have repeatedly held that the First Amendment protects the right to engage in commercial speech. The Court has even stated that it will not interfere with the exercise of free speech, if the v. city had a legitimate reason to ban psychic science businesses. The three main reasons that cities attempt to ban psychic science practices are: (a) the psychic does not meet the state requirements for licensure; (b) the psychic fails to maintain integrity and accuracy in their services; and (c) the psychic lacks the requisite training required to perform their services competently. None of these reasons apply to the v. city of Azusa. Here, the evidence presented by the City of Azusa convinces the court that there is no reason that the First Amendment should prevent them from regulating the business that is conducted in an orderly manner.
For those who are concerned about the First Amendment, I would recommend that you contact your local representatives and let them know that you are opposed to the ordinance. In fact, you should also let them know that you support the right of citizens to choose whether or not they want to engage in spiritual readings, astrology, palmistry, and other forms of spiritual or metaphysical practices. If the members of the City Council feel that they cannot get a job doing something that they sincerely believe in, why should they have the power to ban the people who truly do it for their own beliefs? Indeed, I would submit to you that the city has a real problem when it tries to decide which forms of expression are allowable and which are not. In fact, I think that the problem is even greater when you realize that the First Amendment was designed to protect the rights of those with different beliefs – not the exact same beliefs that the members of the City Council are exercising today.
So, I would submit to you that the City of Azusa has every right to ban psychic readings and other forms of spiritual or metaphysical practices if the members do not feel comfortable with them. And if you feel that you would be uncomfortable having a spiritual guide like a medium come to your home and give you advice, a tarot card reading, or a crystal ball reading, then I suppose that you might feel the same way about receiving psychics services. Personally, I am very happy whenever I can practice the least intrusive form of spiritualism, and I don’t see why anyone should feel that they need to have all of the information upfront. Why should the customers be expected to know all of the important background information about a spiritual guide before they hire them? And if the customers do not feel comfortable with the idea of having their psychic mediums perform psychical examinations on them, then why should the City of Azusa ban psychic readings from the members of the city?