Re: "Mask prohibition puts chill on protests" and "Unmasking the hacktivists," Nov. 9.
Most of us want freedom of speech and assembly, the right of protest, security in public places, suitable deterrents to criminals and crime, and privacy. The problem is that these objectives conflict in the real world.
In an unruly environment, it is easy for those who wish to take advantage of the situation for personal gain or for disruption to do so. Wearing a mask makes it easier.
Ask yourself whether wearing a mask is conscionable in the following scenarios:
1. A masked man demands money at knifepoint.
2. A masked man attempts to kidnap a child and perhaps succeeds.
3. Carrying a full bag, a masked man runs from a shop into the crowd.
4. A masked man throws rotten vegetables, or stones, or tear gas, at a speaker promoting the cause of the protesters.
5. Intent on creating chaos in the crowd, a masked man dresses as a woman.
Cameras can record these acts and enable police eventually to arrest the perpetrators, but this deterrent is ineffective if masks are permitted.
The principal purpose of enacting a prohibition against wearing masks in an unruly or violent crowd is not to punish those who do so nor to suppress the right to protest. The principal purpose is to deter potential wrongdoers from wearing masks, and to make it easier for security forces to identify such wrongdoers before they have committed crimes or disruptive acts, and to arrest and prosecute them afterwards if the deterrent has failed.
Robert H. Barrigar
© Copyright 2013