Bad Grinch, no Constitution for you.

Man Arrested for Wearing Grinch Mask

City and county attorneys are defending Wheeling police who arrested a man for wearing a Grinch mask while walking along a city street.

Norman Eugene Gray, 42, was arrested Tuesday. He was arraigned and released on a personal recognizance bond.

Officers saw Gray about 8:45 a.m. Tuesday, told him to take the mask off and not put it on again. Gray removed it and asked why he could not wear it. Officers told him wearing masks in public is illegal. Gray said he felt he had a right to wear it and said it was not illegal. He put the mask back on and was arrested. The mask was confiscated.

Wheeling City Solicitor Rosemary Humway-Warmuth and Ohio County Prosecutor Scott Smith said masks as well as dark window tinting in vehicles can pose a safety hazard to law enforcement officers and hinder efforts to identify criminal suspects.

Smith said wearing a mask or hood in public is a misdemeanor under [West Virginia] state law, punishable by a fine of up to $500 or up to a year in jail, or both. Children up to 16 years old can wear masks. Traditional Halloween masks, safety gear used in occupations, theatrical productions, civil defense or protection from bad weather also are legal.

Previously: "The ability of that officer to gain compliance is restricted."

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23 Responses:

  1. korgmeister says:

    *Makes a mark in the 'Virginia' column of his Stupid Law Tally*

  2. samidha says:

    Wow. Maybe I should send the guy who raped me down there so they can deal with some real crime. :P

  3. ciphergoth says:

    Hooded tops are now banned from at least two shopping centres (malls to you) in the UK because they make it hard to recognise faces on CCTV.

    Here's a dystopian vision to brighten up your morning: how long will it be before women wearing the burqa will have to carry RFID tokens that identify them in order to be allowed in to shopping centres? Answer: about a year after the first gang of robbers works out that the burqa is the one disguise no-one can require them to remove. And it'll come to the UK first - we've got lots of Muslims and we love our CCTV.

    • jwz says:

      We call them shopping centers too (minus olde worlde spælling.)

    • luminalflux says:

      After the Anna Lindh assasination, it's sortof justified (although there it was a baseball hat and not a hoodie), except that I haven't seen any rules like that around here...

      • mark242 says:

        Okay, don't take this personally, but you are way wrong (and here comes the "obnoxious American" to tell you why).

        Infringing individual liberty is never justified, no matter what the circumstances. Would making a law against baseball caps have stopped the Lindh murder? Of course not. You could make a law against carrying knives, and it still wouldn't have stopped her murder: someone with intent is not going to be deterred by stupid little formalities like what they're allowed to wear, or carry, etc etc.

        The entire point of these pointless laws (wearing a mask in public, carrying fingernail clippers onto an airplane, etc) is to provide the illusion of security. We all know that fingernail clippers can't do any damage to anything, but every time this comes up on the nightly news you'll always see some morbidly obese middle-American halfwit stammering out "well, I feel safer because of all this, so what's the big deal?"

        The big deal is controlling the greater populace for some unobtainable goal, and sacrificing personal responsibility, eroding personal liberty, and potentially interrupting society's pursuit of happiness. This is the sort of crap that we stomped on the British for. So please, before the thought ever enters your mind, understand that personal freedom (without infringing on others' rights) comes first.

        • mister_borogove says:

          You could make a law against carrying knives, and it still wouldn't have stopped her murder: someone with intent is not going to be deterred by stupid little formalities like what they're allowed to wear, or carry, etc etc.

          Let me tell you, I was stunned to learn that murder is *already illegal*. And then people do it anyway! Scofflaws!

        • everdred says:

          I'd wholeheartedly compliment you on your most sensible response, but you need to do a little research before responding. See where your audience is coming from, etc.

          For instance, the user to whom you are responding is from Sweden. While I don't claim to know anything about what, if any, civil liberties are guaranteed in Sweden, they do have that "high quality of life" thing there. Which is apparently more important to some people.

          I mean, look around you; our prez. hunts and kills Teh Tearists!! so we have a high QOL too. Unless the metric is, uh, based on something else. (Jobs? Education?) In which case, shut up with your big liberal lies; you hate America, etc.!

          Yeah, sad.

          • treptoplax says:

            I mean, look around you; our prez. hunts and kills Teh Tearists!! so we have a high QOL too. Unless the metric is, uh, based on something else. (Jobs? Education?)

            Um, jobs? Sweden's unemployment is a couple points below the European average, which is to say, about double the US or Japanese rate.

            • suppressingfire says:

              That's just cause we don't cotton to people livin off a govment dole...

    • lovingboth says:

      Slight difference in that those aren't public highways but private property.

      Ever tried to run in a burqa?

    • lars_larsen says:

      This virginia law does not allow for burqas.

  4. suppressingfire says:

    How often is the hood law applied at public KKK gatherings?

    • fantasygoat says:

      Well, those people are mentally below the age limit for wearing masks.

    • jkonrath says:

      Frequently. That's why it's on the books.

      • wfaulk says:

        Yeah. To be clear, this wasn't passed as a "war-on-terror" law. In NC (don't know about WV), this law (§14-12.6-11) has been on the books unchanged since 1953, and its place in the criminal code, surrounded by sections on secret societies and cross burning, make it obvious that it's in relation to the KKK. WV's code places it directly after a civil rights law. While they don't say when it was enacted, the wording is very similar to the NC law. I bet it was done at approximately the same time.

        For the record, it's only illegal to wear a mask in CA if you're evading arrest.

        • wsxyz says:

          Wearing masks in public is also illegal here in Georgia for exactly that reason - to prohibit KKK rallies. It works pretty well too. I don't know how many people in Georgia would be willing to appear masked at a cross burning, but the number of people in this state willing to appear in KKK garb unmasked seems to be approximately 4.

          • jwz says:

            Now, I'm just an unfrozen caveman, and your modern "homeland security" confuses and frightens me, but aren't KKK rallies the canonical example of how the First Amendment works? Isn't that example used in every middle-school civics class for how it's only the unpopular opinions that need defending?

            Yes, they are dirtbags. But if you don't let dirtbags have their say too, then you don't get to call it a democracy.

            • rambletron3000 says:

              I know it's not the same in the US, but Canada explicitly makes hate speech illegal.

              Which led to an interesting case of a Holocaust denying author. He was allowed to deny the Holocaust if he actually believed that it didn't happen, was what the case centered on. Otherwise it was hate speech.

              • jwz says:

                I'm not sure what the current state of "hate speech" law is in the US, but I assume it's nothing good. In my opinion, "hate speech" laws are unconstitutional bullshit.

                The argument goes that shouting a racial epithet is equivalent in effect to shouting "fire" in a crowded theatre. That argument is bullshit.

  5. lars_larsen says:

    Virginia has the stupidest laws in america BY FAR.

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

    It shall be unlawful for any person over sixteen years of age while wearing 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, to be or appear in any public place, or upon any private property in this Commonwealth without first having obtained from the owner or tenant thereof consent to do so in writing. However, the provisions of this section shall not apply to persons (i) wearing traditional holiday costumes; (ii) engaged in professions, trades, employment or other activities and wearing protective masks which are deemed necessary for the physical safety of the wearer or other persons; (iii) engaged in any bona fide theatrical production or masquerade ball; or (iv) wearing a mask, hood or other device for bona fide medical reasons upon the advice of a licensed physician or osteopath and carrying on his person an affidavit from the physician or osteopath specifying the medical necessity for wearing the device and the date on which the wearing of the device will no longer be necessary and providing a brief description of the device. The violation of any provisions of this section shall constitute a Class 6 felony.