You're a Potential Terrorist, Mr. Grinch!

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A 42-year-old man was arrested Wednesday in Wheeling, West Virginia for the crime of wearing a Grinch mask. According to the Wheeling Intelligencer/News-Register, officers were just enforcing a state statute:

The law was "developed more fully" since the Sept 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, [Wheeling City Solicitor Rosemary Humway-Warmuth] said. […]

The statute, [Ohio County Prosecutor Scott Smith] says, indicates anyone using masks, hoods or other devices to conceal even a portion of the face "could be potentially committing a crime."

Areas in which they are not permitted include streets, alleys, areas of public trading or sites which are frequented by the general public.

Exceptions to the law include masks worn by those under 16 years of age, traditional Halloween masks, safety gear used in occupations, theatrical productions, civil defense or protection from the elements. […]

"Even free speech has its limits," Smith commented.

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  1. Actually, this is quite an old law that was originally written against the Klan.

  2. Well, at least they tried to be nice, but he refused to listen.

    And this is a perfect example of the failures of the press, because I’m sure we’re all curious as to why he was wearing the mask in the first place.

  3. This explains the lack of masked heroes in the thriving metropolis of Wheeling.

  4. Even free speech has it’s limits, eh?

    Moron.

  5. If you’re free to wear a mask, the terrorists have won.

  6. Exceptions to the law include masks worn by those under 16 years of age, traditional Halloween masks, safety gear used in occupations, theatrical productions, civil defense or protection from the elements.

    Wouldn’t this be a “traditional” Halloween mask, or does that only work on 10/31

  7. I like the “protection from the elements” exception. If you want to rob a bank, do it on a really cold day.

  8. Aren’t sunglasses a device that conceals a portion of the face?

  9. What about Muslim women who choose to wear a chador or burka?

  10. Dang it, thoreau, you beat me. 🙂

  11. What about people with allergies (or who are just afraid of germs) who wear surgical masks, a la the Japanese?

    And what counts as a “theatrical production”? If I were the guy who got arrested, I would claim that I’m a street artist and the mask is part of my one-man show.

  12. What about people with allergies (or who are just afraid of germs) who wear surgical masks, a la the Japanese?

    Yeah, what about our rights?

  13. But what if terrorists attack and we have to call in a SWAT team?

  14. What about Muslim women who choose to wear a chador or burka?

    You’ve never been to Wheeling, have you?

  15. Jeff,

    I’m from Wheeling and this law has always been what stood between me and my dreams of being a super hero. You really need the mask to complete the cape + utility belt ensemble.

  16. There’s a law on the books like that in New York, too, and the 2nd Circuit just adjudged it Constitutional – it came about because there was a history of masked violence at one point in time (not all Klan-related), and therefore one could assume that a person going about his business masked was up to something criminal.

  17. Yeah, like when I wore my ski mask into the bank and they got all pissy about it. &*#$!@ fascists.

  18. Dogzilla, the police log in my college paper once had the following entry:

    Caller reports a man in a ski mask loitering outside SuchandSuch Hall. Campus security determined he was dressed apporpriately for the weather.

    This was is western Massachusetts, in January.

  19. Insert West Virginia joke here.

  20. joe, I thought you went to college in DC.

  21. Here’s my post on the current status of First Amendment mask law. Bottom line: Even if you support mask bans at rallies, there is no basis to extend it to lone individuals engaging in otherwise lawful conduct.

    Let’s preserve the right to be wacky!

  22. For the record, Mr. Gray, of Proctor, WV, is listed in the phone book. For the love of god will someone with more moxie than me please call the man about why the hell he was wearing the mask?

    Anon

  23. thoreau,

    Undergrad in DC. Grad school in the Pioneer Valley.

    Damn, now you’re one step closer to my secret identity.

  24. Damn, now you’re one step closer to my secret identity.

    I think the email address kind of gave it away, Mr. Joe P. Boyle ;->

  25. This is a stupid non-story. It’s only getting play because of the “grinch” factor. Next time, leave the freak-of-the-day links to Drudge.

  26. What about makeup?

  27. Curses, thoreau!

    And why am I the only one writing Grinch lyrics?

  28. Why wasn’t there a spate of mime arrests after the movie Dead Presidents came out?

  29. joe, you look very stern.

    Congrats on the Order of the Sphynx, or whatever that is…

  30. I’m uncertain what superheroes could make a name in WV. I know the state bird is the Cardinal, but that would be a rather lame costume theme.

  31. Well, you have to understand that

    a) There is no evidence that the 9-11 hijackers never wore masks, and

    b) A masked suicide bomber may never be brought to justice.

    Hence the connection of this law to Homeland Security.

  32. West Virginia already has me–that’s all the superheroes they need. And I even used to wear a pointy-top mask, but I gave that up a long time ago, I swear. Now, who wants to name a highway after me?

  33. This sort of thing didn’t happen back when Thurl Ravenscroft was still alive.

  34. I used to work for the “newspaper” in question. It does not surprise me to hear that they left out relevant information.

    One’s a morning paper, one’s an afternoon paper — same staff. So there’s your built-in followup.

  35. “And what counts as a “theatrical production”? If I were the guy who got arrested, I would claim that I’m a street artist and the mask is part of my one-man show.”

    Chuck, I’m pretty sure they’d nail him for not having a busking license.

    Anyway, I think he’s either crazy or was just trying to cause trouble…or both. Mission accomplished.

  36. It’s a well know fact that exposure to the sun can cause skin cancer. There’s his out,”I was using it to protect myself from the elements, 1.e., the sun”

  37. “Even free speech has its limits.” Now that is much scarier than a guy walking down the street in a Grinch mask.

  38. Elvis:

    You almost got me in trouble for bursting out laughing at the joe picture. Things make much more sense now.. 🙂

  39. Rightie-o, now I shall thrash you all soundly!

    Heave to, and take it like a man!

  40. Well played, joe old man! Pip pip hooray, nice nice, yah-boo! Phillips is a German and he have my pen–

  41. So–to keep out of jail, why not just make the Grinch mask into a hat and leave his face exposed? Dumbass.

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