Last week the California Supreme Court handed down an interesting ruling, one that expressly allowed Los Angeles International Airport, more commonly known as LAX, to ban the Hare Krishnas from their airport.
Hare Krishnas are well known at many airports. If you fly domestically into LAX you may not see the Hare Krishnas very often, however they are frequently found in the arrivals area of the Tom Bradley International Terminal, usually preying on arriving international passengers.
If you don’t the Hare Krishnas, they are known for wearing bright saris, having shaved heads with pony tails and walking through airports playing a drum asking passengers for money and selling orange flowers. As entertaining as watching the Hare Krishnas may be, if they are not approaching you, they are a cult and if you’ve just arrived at LAX from a long flight they happen to be an annoying cult.
The ruling by the California Supreme Court states that Hare Krishnas, and 15 other organizations that regularly solicit money at LAX are not protected by Free Speech, in fact they are violating pan-handling (begging) ordinances at LAX.
The Hare Krishnas could move to have this ban over turned by seeking an appeal by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, however the United State Supreme Court has already upheld a ban on soliciting in transit facilities in New York, so its unlikely this ruling would be overturned.
On a lighter moment, one of my favourite scenes from the classic movie Airplane! pokes fun at the Hare Krishnas and other cult organizations that beg for money in the airport. Below is a clip of a scene from Airplane!