Well, this is about the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard in a while. Belleville, Illinois passed an ordinance last Monday that restricted trick-or-treating. That sounds normal, right, most cities limit the time that kids can trick-or-treat. But the city isn’t just limiting when; they’re also limiting who can trick-or-treat. And it also limits the wearing of masks, to only Halloween (unless you’re under 12).
Here’s an overview of the ordinance (unfortunately, Belleville is a little slow in uploading their meeting minutes, and all they have right now is a copy of the agenda, so this isn’t the exact wording of the ordinance):
- Limits trick-or-treating on Halloween from 5:00 P.M. until 8:30 P.M.
- Bans anyone in above the 8th grade (anybody older than 13 or 14) from trick-or-treating on Halloween, unless they are a “special-needs” child, and then they must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
- Allows children age 12 and under to wear a mask and/or disguise any day of the year, but restricts anyone above 12 to being able to wear a mask and/or disguise only on Halloween.
- Prohibits any and all child sex offenders from going to any event and/or holding any event for Halloween where any child (other than his/her own) will be present. Child sex offenders must also turn out their outside lights on Halloween night, and they are banned from handing out candy.
OK, so bullet points 1 and 4 I have no problem with. It’s 2 and 3 that I have an issue with.
But before I go on, let me give you some quotes that Mayor Mark Eckert told reporters:
We believe that Halloween is for little children. We just feel that we need to go that extra mile to protect the children.
We were hearing more and more about bigger kids knocking on doors after 9:00 at night and the people who lived in the homes were scared. The seniors were especially scared. They didn’t want to be the recipient of some kind of trick, but they didn’t want to open their doors late at night, either.
Sexual predators can’t have parties. It’s not right, it’s wrong. They lost that privilege.
OK, so I get the principle behind this, but here’s where you have a problem: Those teenagers out after 9:00 P.M. would be out past the overall curfew anyway, so they’d already be breaking the law. What is the need for another law here? If they’re out past 8:30, they can be arrested (I’m assuming that’s the punishment). So that right there would solve your teenagers out late problem. Banning trick-or-treating for anybody above the 8thgrade is simply ageism. You cannot discriminate against somebody like this. I’ll accept a curfew (although I have problems with those at times too), but to ban outright the practice of trick-or-treating for ANYBODY (other than felons who lose some rights when they’re convicted) is discrimination, and in my view, illegal!
Now, the mask/disguise ordinance. You’re telling me that a 16-year-old kid can’t wear a mask outside at a Halloween party the night before Halloween (Devil’s Night if you live here in Detroit)? Or what if a Star Trek convention comes to Belleville? Are you telling me that masks aren’t allowed? It’s ridiculous! Unfortunately, without the ordinance I don’t have the city’s legal definition of “disguise” but would this apply to people dressed up as Santa Clause? Are you going to haul away the Salvation Army Santa for being in a “disguise” on a day other than Halloween? It’s dumb. It restricts the Freedom of Speech (this isn’t a dress code in school we’re talking about here – this is just being out in PUBLIC generally!)! It’s asinine, ridiculous, and it’s unconstitutional.
I hope somebody old goes out and trick-or treats, or wears a mask the day after Halloween so that this can be taken to court and overturned. I’m a Law and Order Conservative – I abide by the laws. I don’t speed. I don’t drink underage. I’ve never stolen a candy bar. But when the law goes against Constitutional principles, it MUST be disobeyed so that it can be challenged in court, and this is one time where I say, “Break that law!”