25 January 2004

The Klan and Masks:

Okay, let me begin this by stating that I am one of "those people" whom the Klan despises (a "Romanist"). And I ain't got no use fer them either.

Still, this rationale for denying them the use of masks is disturbing:
The three-judge federal panel said the mask was not protected because it does not convey a message independently of the KKK's robe and hood.
. . .
"Since the robe and hood alone clearly serve to identify the American Knights with the Klan, we conclude that the mask does not communicate any message that the robe and hood do not," the appeals court said. "The expressive force of the mask is, therefore, redundant."
I find that rationale more than a little disturbing. It's the equivalent of stating: "Mr. Lammers had a 6" St. Benedict crucifix hanging around his neck and a jacket with a large K of C 3d degree symbol on it. This clearly identifies him as a Roman Catholic. Therefore, we can restrict him from wearing a monstrance pin because it is redundant."

Yeah, I know it's a stretch but a precedent like that is always disturbing because it clearly restricts how a person might choose to express himself.

And no matter how hard the article tries to make a bunch of numbskulls walking down the street in masks the equivalent of yelling "Fire" in a theater it just isn't the same thing. Decisions like this - whether they rely on a "redundancy" argument or a "yelling fire" argument - are just ways of sticking it to a disfavored group. And the laws and decisions aimed at the disfavored group won't just dry up and blow away as time passes. After all, how much damage is still being done by the Blaine Amendment provisions which were put into numerous States' constitutions?

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