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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Where is the proper line for freedom? Myrtle Beach man arrested for wearing mask near ATM - not stealing

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia made headlines this week when he answered a question from a college student about why the justice believes it is constitutionally OK to use morality as the basis for laws against homosexual activity.

That sparked a discussion about just where the proper line is between public laws and private rights, and upon what they should or shouldn't be based. Apparently there is a law against "a masked or disguised person," the one used by Charleston police to arrest a Myrtle Beach man for wearing a mask near an ATM.

He hadn't attempted to rob anyone and apparently was unarmed. I'm sure the law's intention is to make people think twice before trying to rob a bank, which is frequently done by people in disguise. But is that a good enough reason to arrest people for putting on a mask? Is it OK to assume the person who looks suspicious should be arrested before they even try an attempted, alleged robber? What if the man was telling the truth, that he was wearing the mask because of a skin condition? And does this mean that you can be arrested on Halloween?

This seems like overkill. If the presence of the cops alone was sufficient to deter him from attempting something sinister - something we do not know he was contemplating - why arrest him, particularly if he was unarmed, or not illegally armed?


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