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Busker Busters

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Dear Reader:

Ted Allen's letter in the May 21 Reader critiquing Neal Pollack's May 14 article on busker busting totally missed the point. The letter is about the alleged agony of listening to a lousy busker in the few moments spent waiting for a train. The article is about a guy who was found innocent of the offense with which he was charged, who nevertheless was subject to a de facto punishment of several days of detention and then forced to find his way home without his seeing-eye dog, who the police had confiscated but not returned to him.

The issue posed here is that our police and bureaucrats step over the line of acceptable behavior when they subject people to arrest and detention on bogus charges. It is a serious problem, yet there is little we can do about it other than wait four years and then elect someone else as mayor.

As to Ted Allen's alleged problem, I find it impossible to believe that being subject to busking for the few minutes spent waiting for a train even begins to compare with the ordeal of being detained for days on bogus charges, let alone having to go home sightless and unaided. The only problem with subway busking is that the drums are far too loud in a subway tunnel and should be prohibited. Whatever the restrictions, there is no excuse for arresting people on trumped-up felony charges. Violators of busking restrictions should be ticketed and fined $20 or $50, not hauled off to the lockup.

The solution to lousy busking lies in respecting buskers' self-description as performers. If you like the performance, leave a tip, and if you don't, keep your money in your pocket. The lousy buskers will disappear soon enough if they aren't getting tips.

Mike Woodberry

W. Augusta

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