Thursday, April 14, 2011

to mask and unmask

I've spent the past couple days wondering why I'm so interested in this issue. I've written on it several times in the past but I've no clear connection to it: I'm not muslim, I'm not a woman, and I'm not even french.

it doesn't entirely strike me as an unfair law, one which puts greater emphasis on 1 segment of society than on others: society has a legitimate interest in people not concealing who they are in public (although it's notable that such things as motorcycle helmets and traditional masked costumes are exempt from the law). a few years ago marvel comics made exactly this argument the basis for their year-long civil war event and a part of what made that a good storyline was the reality that such laws would have just such an impact on the fantasy worlds of masked superheroes.

but it also strikes me that there is a more fundamental right involved, and that is the obverse to the traditional argument that "your rights end at my nose." my rights extend to my nose (literally in this case). I should be able to dress as I want--or to be undressed if I want--so long as I opt out of those activities where society has a legitimate stake in making my identity public (driver's licenses and id cards, for instance). this is less a libertarian stance and more anarchic: anarchy doesn't devolve other people's rights but raises an individual's right (while not harming others) until the individual becomes the state.

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