Electronic billboards are a waste
In the category of totally objectionable use of energy, I give you the electronic billboard:
I’ve noticed since returning to Los Angeles after three-and-a-half years away that these heinous things have popped up in various places around town. I guess with all the sitting in traffic we do around here, we’re capable of processing not one but two advertisements for crappy, overblown movies in the amount of time it takes to crawl through an intersection.
I’m all in favor of free speech for all kinds of ideas, but isn’t it time that the arcane and bizarre US Supreme Court ruling that corporate speech be as protected as individual speech gets overturned? The development of the electronic billboard is hardly among the most egregious instances of the polluting (I mean that literally and figuratively) influence of corporate speech, only the most recent.
The fundamental problem with the precedent is that it means those with the most money have an enormous advantage in the marketplace of ideas. Monsanto and Exxon are allowed to spew any kind of b.s. they wish and nobody can do anything about it except counter the disinformation — but which of these companies’ opponents and watchdogs has anything approaching their resources?
In the case of the billboard, certainly Viacom or whatever has the right to get its commercial message across. But is that ability impaired by restricting it to media that are not directly consuming unecessary energy every second? (At least these billboards are energy-saving LED lights.) And what of the rights of my children to live in a world vaguely resembling the one I was born into?
To get the ball rolling, the city of L.A. (or wherever) could ban these colossal wastes of energy; at the very least, they could require that the billboards generate their own energy with solar panels on the back or windmills on the top. While they’re at it, they could outlaw those driving billboard trucks, which waste energy both directly, through their own emissions and indirectly, by clogging traffic and thereby increasing everyone else’s.
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