Attack of the dancing robots

If you live in LA, you’re used to seeing people dancing on street corners holding signs for businesses.

Do you know why this exists? Ordinarily, there are pretty severe restrictions on business signage, particularly signage on public right-of-ways like streets and sidewalks. But, the First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees people the right to free speech, so no one can stop you from standing on a street corner with a sign. Businesses in LA have learned to take advantage of this right by hiring people to hold commercial signs.

We, as a society, have decided to tolerate this tacky, awful speech because banning it would threaten other kinds of speech that we wish to protect (for example, protestors holding political signs on corners).

And, there’s at least the side benefit that the people actually doing the work get paid for it, even if those jobs can be pretty awful.

Look, here’s a cute girl spinning a sign on Beverly Blvd. in Historic Filipinotown:



But, now check out this one from close up. It’s a job-killing, law-breaking dancing robot!



Totally disgraceful. You can see the thought process of the evil genius who sells these little monsters: “You can have signs on the public sidewalk without having to pay humans by the hour. Just make them humanoid robots, and no one will notice!” He exploits the wide berth we give to free speech AND kills jobs. And what he’s doing is illegal, because no one can just plop a sign down on a public right-of-way.

Fortunately, unlike other social ills (like graffiti), it’s very obvious who to blame… the businesses put their names and phone numbers on the signs!

We, as a city, ought to say, in response: “We’ll let you pollute our visual space with dancing humans, because we care about free speech and jobs. Do it with robots and we’ll bury you in fines.”

One day of active enforcement by the cops would do the trick…