NEW YORK, NY - If you’ve been groped by Super Mario lately or yelled at by an anti-Semitic Elmo, chances are you know too well the spread of costumed characters in and around Times Square. Once upon a time, the area was populated by thieves, hustlers, and sexual deviants. Today it is populated by thieves, hustlers, and sexual deviants wearing knock-off Sesame Street costumes.
In the past few years their ranks have grown, unchecked by copyright infringement or local law enforcement, who mostly stay clear. But then you get the flare-ups. Most recently one of these performers, dressed as Cookie Monster, allegedly accosted a tourist and her young son after they did not tip him for the photograph they’d taken. Aside from the fact that this is just not the way a character beloved by children the world over should behave, it raises questions about freedom of speech and entrepreneurial rights. Should these seemingly deranged men (trust me, they are all men) be allowed to perform?