B for Balloon

I did this back during the “Occupy” days before Occupy Wall St was broken up. New York City had just decided it might enforce an old ordinance making public mask-wearing illegal.[1]

self portrait, 2014

self portrait, 2014

So I was thinking “they can’t come after you for holding a balloon can they?”  I sent several thousand of these to various places, and took the remainder to the RSA conference, where I scattered them liberally about the place. I swear I had nothing to do with it, but someone got their hands on a few of the balloons, blew them up, and filled the back of an FBI unmarked car that was parked near the conference center. After that, there were some reports that “Anonymous” might be planning an attack, or something. Silly totalitarians.

There are anti-mask laws in many jurisdictions.[2] Because something something free expression something something. Remember: if the citizens cannot assemble and speak freely, they will assemble to do violence stealthily. Either way, they will assemble.


  1. ledasmom says

    I wonder how the statute defines “mask”. It seems obvious that your balloon should not qualify, but what exactly does? If people cannot gather in costume, then technically Hallowe’en costumes in public should be illegal, which one must assume is not the intent. That leads to the idea that what is barred is political masked gatherings, which, like a flag-burning ban, seems so contrary to the spirit of the First Amendment that you really have to wonder how people manage to get their heads around such things.
    If the intent is to ban people’s disguising theirselves, one can do that as well with cosmetics and so forth, which nobody seems to be banning. If a protesting crowd all wore those glasses-nose-and-moustache combos, would that be against the law? How about bandannas? What about those bandannas with air filters in them – those serve a purpose, after all, but as much of the face is covered.
    If the temperature were fifteen below, it might be illegal to hold a protest at all, since the only appropriate headwear would be ski masks or big scarves and hats.

  2. Pierce R. Butler says

    Don’t knock the masks laws without considering their context.

    Many of the original US anti-mask laws came about due to people wearing white cloth masks, together with white robes and white conical headgear.

    The only problem in that is the omission of declaring year-round, no-bag-limit, open season.