Thursday, November 19, 2009

Busking: When Freedom of Speech Asks You For Money

What are buskers? You see them all the time on the metro playing their violin concertos or making life-size balloon animal replicas of the Statue of Liberty. Sometimes you wish you could grab your ukulele and join them, other times you wish they would take their one good tooth and sing in someone else's ear. I am referring, of course, to those shameless abusers: street performers.

Don't get it twisted, I love a good busk. I know plenty of buskers, in fact, some of my best friends are buskers, so you know I'm not prejudiced. I am not saying it's wrong, I'm just saying I don't want to see it. If these buskers want to practice their musical numbers or sword-swallowing, they could at least do it in the privacy of their own homes.

Never mind the fact that some of history's greatest figures got their start as buskers: Benjamin Franklin, Bob Hope, Robin Williams, Ani Fu*king DiFranco, Jesus Christ -- or is that the same person? These people have no sense of decency, parading around like they have the right. Oh wait, they do? Oh, it's a certain, inalienable right? Well, damn. Apparently, buskers are protected by freedom of speech. Free expression is a basic human right and buskers can do whatever they want, wherever they want. Forget marrying the person you love, at least you can mime in traffic, or sing karaoke on the bus. Try being suspended in an ice block for 48 hours above Time Square, or building an army of trash men. It doesn't hurt society the way gay marriage does.

Who wants to see a group of well-groomed dancers in MC Hammer pants scare the skinny-jeans off of L.A. hipsters, or witness the World Famous Bushman jump out from within a eucalyptus tree to startle San Francisco's population? And yet, day after day, captive audiences are forced to tolerate this perfectly legal, constitutionally protected practice. We should put a measure on the ballot to end this madness!

Looks like Bert is going to stay in business. Maybe someday we'll see the same level of flexibility and freedom granted to gay couples looking to practice their inalienable rights.

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