Considering the racial strife that has permeated the social fabric of the contemporary South, it is refreshing and encouraging to read about laws that were passed to protect innocence, promote peace, and penalize hateful and malicious activity. One such law, previously championed by common-sense politicians in our great state of North Carolina, enhanced the penalties for crimes committed while wearing a mask. 

Given our current climate, some might wonder when such a law would actually be applicable and practical. Well, I can give you several examples. This law would apply if a group of masked men gathered outside your house to burn a cross, or gathered to lynch someone in the name of justice, or came together for a “peaceful protest” that devolved into mob action that damaged property and hurt people. Primarily, this law penalized the Ku Klux Klan in the past. 

Why is this law no longer in effect? During COVID this law was amended to recognize the extraordinary circumstances and the reality that almost all Americans were wearing masks daily, through mandate or choice. Therefore, it only made sense to amend this law in order to avoid any unnecessary hardships or penalties for the everyday citizen. 

Now, we are witnessing a return of masked mobs committing crimes while concealing their identity. Consider the footage coming from UNC Chapel Hill, where members of ANTIFA, and other groups sympathetic to terrorists, vandalized public property, assaulted students, and attacked law enforcement. If you hadn’t seen that, then surely you remember the 2020 footage of BLM Members and ANTIFA Vanguard burning down neighborhoods and assaulting cops in the name of “justice.” 

First and foremost, I hold that their actions do not remotely resemble anything approaching justice. Second, I absolutely, positively, and enthusiastically promote and support any law that targets hate groups who prey on innocent people. I don’t care if they call themselves Klan members, neo-Nazis, Black Panthers, or members of the John Brown Gun Club (also an ANTIFA group). If they commit a crime wearing a mask, like their white supremacist forebears, then the penalty should be enhanced, not only to discourage such villainy, but also to punish cowards who hide medical masks, ski masks, or white sheets. 

One such law that accomplishes this reasonable and necessary purpose is House Bill 237, entitled, “Unmasking mobs and criminals.” The title is plain enough, straight to the point, and completely accurate. The law is reasonable and should be enacted immediately. I write about this because a lot of lies and malicious misinformation has been spread concerning this law. Personally, I’m upset because the slander that has been spread is dangerous and completely unfounded in reality. 

The criminals who want to commit crimes in masks are telling everyone they can find that HB 237 penalizes people for wearing masks for any reasons, including health. Considering the immunocompromised and COVID, one can see why anyone who is duped into believing such nonsense would be outraged or terrified. This law ONLY applies to people wearing mask while committing crimes, no more and no less. 

This is so plain that Cooper’s Department of Health and Humans Services of the Cooper administration has issued the following statement, “It was great to hear that the intent with the PCS to HB 237 is not to prevent people from being able to wear a mask for medical reasons, and the legal interpretation of the legislation supports that. The language of the underlying criminal statutes (G.S 14-12.7, 12.8, 12.9, 12.10 and 12.14) all say that the wearing of a mask must be done ‘so as to conceal the identity of the wearer.’ As such, legal interpretation indicates that wearing a mask worn for public health/safety is not a crime and the removal of the explicit exception does not open anyone up to prosecution.”

I write this to head off the lies and strategies of desperate, delusional, and dastardly people who want to promote fear and encourage hate. Nazi leaders Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels cynically observed that the longer and louder you tell a lie, the more people there will be who will believe it. Sadly, they, and many others, have used this fact to deceive the masses.

Personally, I will not be silent when lies are trafficked in our public discourse, the development of laws, and the policing of our communities. HB 237 is a common-sense, anti-Klan/Antifa law that is needed and needed now.