So I went to go see the new Twilight film at midnight the other night because, when I say I’m eternally an adolescent, I mean it. Now, I’m a Harry Potter fanatic, but I do think that there is a place for Twilight in the world. It satisfied my crack-addict type need for something to fill the gaping hole that the end of the Harry Potter books created. That place. You can debate how crappy Stephanie Meyer’s writing is, and how she uses the word chagrin more than anybody in the history of English, but the fact of the matter is she wrote something that millions of people connected to, and isn’t that at least a sign of decent writing. Tangent. Anyway, the point is that I am by far more committed to my Harry Potter fanaticism. My feelings for Twilight are filled with shame, and something akin to Catholic guilt.
While sitting in the theater for two hours waiting for the movie to start, two kids walked in and sat down in full Death Eater regalia. Masks and all. Every time the theater played the Harry Potter theme song, they cheered, and every time the theater employees tried to start a Twilight cheer, they booed. I wanted to propose.
About fifteen minutes later an employee came in and told the kids to remove their masks. The kids seemed to be refusing, and after a little bit of back and forth, I heard the employee yell,
“You can’t wear masks in here! IT’S STATE LAW!”
All I could think was, why? What public interest is this supposed to be serving, or threat is it supposed to be deterring? Terrorism? Masked Robbery? Is this anti-mask sentiment for Death Eater masks specifically? Actually, that’s not so far off.
I should mention that I’m a research whore, just not when it comes to the law usually. Whenever I hear anything that I don’t know much about (whether historical fact or celebrity trivia or whatever) I’m on Wikipedia immediately. My quick research showed that anti-mask statutes actually exist at the federal and state levels, and are merely suspended for Halloween and Mardi Gras.
When I was thinking about the existence of such a statute in the theater, I wondered, wouldn’t this sort of violate a person’s free speech rights? A corporation is a person, and its political donations are speech for the purposes of First Amendment protection. Shouldn’t, I thought, masks also qualify?
Well, apparently others agree with me. See Church of the American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan v. Kerik, 356 F.3d 197 (2d Cir. 2004). The first time in 3 years that something law-related sparks enough interest in me to inspire independent research, and it aligns me with the KKK.