Longtime arch-enemies, Batman and The Joker faced off once more on Wednesday, only this time about a plan to require Times Square's costumed characters to be licensed.
Wearing makeup and a red suit embellished with black bats, the Clown Prince of Crime told New York City Council's Consumer Affairs Committee that the bill amounts to "fascism."
“I might look like a clown but I’m speaking from the heart,” the New York Daily News quote The Joker, aka Keith Albahae, as saying. “I do this from my heart and not for tips. OK, I do ask for tips. And many people are glad to give them, but this is about the First Amendment and this is about discrimination. This straight-up seems like fascism.”
Proposed by Council Member Andy King, the legislation is intended to address the growing problem of aggressive -- and sometimes downright violent -- costumed characters. In September, a Spider-Man and Batman were arrested after they allegedly attacked a heckler, while in July a man dressed as Miles Morales was brought in following a scuffle with police. Those are just two of the most recent incidents; the Daily News reports there have been 38 arrests of Times Square characters since 2009, which includes the 18 this year.
King's bill would require the costumed characters to pay a $175 registration fee and undergo a criminal background check, and designate where in Times Square they could operate.
The same Batman who teamed with Spider-Man in July, José Escalona Martinez, testified at Wednesday's meeting following The Joker (he was apparently operating on Bat-time, and arrived late). Although the Daily News quotes the Dark Knight as saying the costumed characters are protected by the First Amendment, WCBS has video of his testimony in which he clearly endorses the bill.
"If you don't have anything to hide, come on," he said, "it's just a regulation."