No Masks

The AP reports that Jeremy Putnam, 31, was arrested in Winchester, Virginia, and charged with “wearing a mask in public,” a felony in that state.

He was armed with a “sword” 1  in public, which apparently alarmed residents. But they haven’t charged him with that; they’ve charged him with this, a fascinatingly terrible law:

§ 18.2-422. Prohibition of wearing of masks in certain places; exceptions.

It shall be unlawful for any person over 16 years of age to, with the intent to conceal his identity, wear any mask, hood or other device whereby a substantial portion of the face is hidden or covered so as to conceal the identity of the wearer…

…with specific exceptions for “traditional holiday costumes,” protective or medical masks, or ones for a “bona fide theatrical production or masquerade ball.”

The Joker

Funny how laws intended to do one thing end up doing something else entirely. Virginia’s law, like others passed in the South,  was originally aimed at unmasking the KKK. And now it’s being used against (putatively) innocent people who make poor choices in face painting. 2

The best interpretation of events is that the local gendarmerie recognized a mental health issue when that Glasgow smile was leering in their faces, and detained the individual, if only to refer him to the local nuthatch on a 48-hour observational hold.

On the other hand, given the Federal enactment of the Real ID Act 3 , combined with the FBI’s mandate that there be no smiling (much less Glasgow grins) on any state driver’s license (it fuck’s with the Feeb’s facial reconignition software), and the omniscient air surveillance engendered by Obama’s Drones Over Amerika program, it starting to look like Orwell’s 1984 arrived without anyone noticing.

No worries, though; we can trust the government 4 to do the right thing. And, failing that, there’s always the courts, n’est-ce pas?

No Masks

Show 4 footnotes

  1. WNBTv spoke with the reporter (Christopher Early) who covered the story for  The Winchester Star. He said “…the initial report came in as Mr. Putman having a sword, however, officers at the scene said he had a cane and also a small pocket-type knife.”
  2. Though, seriously  – what the hell, dude? Stop creeping everyone out. Go get a girlfriend and a life. You’ll feel better. I promise.
  3. You can see the debate on the Real ID Act right now in action in the Missouri legislature; we’re one of the few wayward states
  4. We trust OMP; don’t you?

Something to say?