Nick Nefedro is fighting a county law banning fortune-telling because he says it’s discriminating against his Gypsy heritage. What will they come up with next?
Like his father, who had been a fortuneteller in the District in the 1980s, Nefedro turned the practice into a business. With family members, he has owned and operated a half-dozen fortunetelling businesses in the Los Angeles area and in Key West, Fla.
Well, you see, there’s you problem, Nick. Once you start charging people money, it’s no longer your heritage but your BUSINESS. And businesses have to comply with proper business standards and practices. You can do all the fortune-telling you want free of charge whenever you want. But the moment you start charging money for it is the moment your rights end and the rights of others to be protected from fraud begin.
Nefedro found a location to rent about two years ago and applied for a business license. He was denied. In May 2008, he filed a lawsuit, which he lost. Now, with the ACLU on board, he wants to continue the fight.
I’m actually really surprised the ACLU would take this case. It seems like they’ve got a pretty flimsy case. Of course if this did go to court, it’d put Nefedro in the position where he could legitimately be ordered to prove his powers. . .potentially under proper scientifically controlled conditions, which Nefedro would likely be incapable of doing. And if such a case actually won, it’d clearly open the door for anyone to challenge a fraud ruling on the grounds that it’s their heritage or their religion, etc.
“I don’t think it’s strange for us to have laws that protect against fraud,” said Clifford Royalty, zoning division chief in the Montgomery County attorney’s office, adding that “religion has nothing to do with it. He’s not made that allegation in the lawsuit.”
“The practice is fraudulent,” Royalty said, “because no one can forecast the future.”
And when asked to foretell his own fortune, Nefedro naturally responded:
Unfortunately, he says, fortunetelling doesn’t work that way: He can’t read his fortune.
I couldn’t agree more.