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Guy Fawkes Masks

  1. #1
    Member Shraa Elohim's Avatar
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    Guy Fawkes Masks

    Do they add to or detract from protest movements?

    Do they increase sympathy for the protestors? Or do they bring about a sense of subversion and fear, and lack of trust? I certainly found that when I was walking through the St Paul's camp the masked protestors there seemed almost scary. What about you guys? Having seen photos of masses of people in Guy Fawkes masks, and perhaps seeing them with your own two eyes, have you found yourselves tempted to espouse or eschew their course?

  2. #2
    Forum Farseer Akranadas's Avatar
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    It's simply a way to protest with without anybody knowing its you taking part in the protests. It's effectively the safety of internet in mask form, much how protesters in other countries use shirts, handkerchiefs or ski masks to hide their identity. Expect these people with the Guy Fawkes masks want to feel apart of a group of people.

  3. #3
    Member PetarB's Avatar
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    I think they are awesome. But then again, I am a big Alan Moore fan.

  4. #4
    White Knight Police Black's Avatar
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    LET'S IDENTIFY WITH A WANNABE MASS MURDERER ANARCHIST THAT IS TOTALLY A MATURE AND MEANINGFUL SYMBOL OF CONSTRUCTIVE SOCIAL CHANGE.

    Can someone explain to me how this caught on with anybody who has a modicum of sense?

  5. #5
    Follow the Sign Rotlung's Avatar
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    I'd guess anonymity is the key function, but having some sort of symbolism (the validity of which is arguable) always helps. Perhaps a group of people having some kind of uniform (through the masks) seems intimidating too but I don't know about that.
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  6. General Discussions Senior Member Homeworld Senior Member  #6
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    In most Western countries where there is a constitutionally protected right to protest, I take protesters much more seriously if they're not wearing a mask (of any sort, but particularly Guy Fawkes). To me wearing a concealing item of clothing speaks of some sort of duplicity or subterfuge or makes me think that the person wearing the mask doesn't care enough about the cause to be open and honest about their support for it. Unless there is a very good reason for protesters to wear these masks such as an oppressive government that will arrest them if they knew their identity, I really don't see how these masks add to political discourse.

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  7. Homeworld Senior Member  #7
    Your night worstmare. Dimension's Avatar
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    I'd like to say that this is illegal in germany.

    anonymity in these situations very often lead to escalation. Back in my riot police days, those that hid their face were either just about to commit violence, had just done so, or were looking for an opportunity to.

    as cool as a mass protest using fawkes masks looks from an artistic standpoint, its unnecessary and does not even begin to justify the risks involved.

    So I'm against it.

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    Can someone explain to me how this caught on with anybody who has a modicum of sense?
    Because, like Rorschach in Watchmen, most people completely missed the point of V for Vendetta.
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  9. #9
    Member Shoota Fodder's Avatar
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    @Black

    I'm assuming V For Vendetta had a lot to do with it. Guy Fawkes was a mad bastard criminal, but in that film they aren't idealising the man but the idea of taking on the Government. It's a symbol. It has very little to do with Guy Fawkes and his motives other than that he tried to bring change to a system. Also, they look cool.
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  10. #10
    Follow the Sign Rotlung's Avatar
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    Just a thought: It might be useful to look at protestors who wear generic masks (maybe ski masks), a separate group that wears the same T-shirt, and finally a third group that chooses to adopt, say, Guy Fawkes as a mascot or something, because I think anonymity (from the act of concealing one's face/identity) is a different issue from solidarity through having some kind of a uniform, or solidarity through symbolism/a mascot.

    I do agree that these masks add little to (reasoned) political discourse though. In fact, they might detract from it, but I don't have examples off-hand to illustrate this. Whether they detract from a protest movement is another matter though.

  11. Gamers Lounge Senior Member General Discussions Senior Member  #11
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    Before we all get on with emphasising how much more mature and sensible we are...

    Weren't they initially used as an easy-to-come-by and identifiable tool in the anti-Scientology actions? Scientologists have a habit of being inclined to litigate, and they have deep pockets, which most people involved in the demonstrations (presumably) didn't. So, masks.

    As for why, look to V For Vendetta. The film- ignore the comic. Ignore also the relative merits of the film. What's important here is the symbology of the mask in the film. It's not important that V wears it, not really- what's important is that, by virtue of its nature of being a mask, you can project anyone onto it, and in doing so V becomes everyone, as Evie notes in the final scene while its obviously visually sign posted what with every character in the film (excepting the really bad ones, but including the dead good ones) wearing one then removing them at the same moment. Forget the more morally ambivalent nature of the comic mask, ignore that the character of Guy Fawkes gets an unwelcome rehabilition. Those things are not relevant in the choice of peopleto wear these masks. They are using them in the cinematic context, ie a unifying symbol against a stronger power.
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  12. General Discussions Senior Member The Studio Senior Member Boardwars Senior Member  #12
    Beware of Zombified Terrorists Langy's Avatar
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    To be honest, I always view people who wear Guy Fawkes masks, in particular, as giant douche wannabees - people who think they're special, powerful, and cool, when in reality they're just idiotic asshole media whores.

    Then again, the only 'Guy Fawkes mask'-wearing group I know of is Anonymous, and that description I gave perfectly fits them.


    As for protesters who need to protect their identity and so wear some kind of mask/handkerchief/tshirt over their head/whatever - that's perfectly acceptable in situations where it's actually warranted, such as protesting a group likely to retaliate against protestors. It's a bad, bad idea in other situations, as evidenced by Dimension's first-hand experience.


    Also, the idea that Dimension used to be a riot cop (and is presumably still a cop?) fills me with a little bit of fear.

  13. #13
    To be honest, I always view people who wear Guy Fawkes masks, in particular, as giant douche wannabees - people who think they're special, powerful, and cool, when in reality they're just idiotic asshole media whores.
    Well, 4chan started it so, "duh".
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  14. #14
    Persnickety South African Mirage Knight's Avatar
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    Thanks to mainstream media and a fair amount of historical blurring, the masses see Guy Fawkes as an advocate for anarchy, an opponent of government oppression, a symbol of political change and so on. What's being crucially forgotten is WHY Fawkes did what he did and it's the reason why Fawkes is considered to be one of England's most (in)famous villians.

    Fawkes and his compatriots were indeed seeking to end oppression of Catholics by a Protestant-controlled government, but they sort to do it via killing the King and members of Parliament so that a Catholic-controlled government with political ties to Spain could step in and rule England. That government would in turn wind up oppressing Protestants. Yes, very noble indeed - substituting one flavor of religious intolerance for another.

    With regard to the OP's question, I feel the use of these masks hurts the protestors that use them. By wearing these masks, the protestors take on a uniformity of sorts while shielding their identity from others. The cause becomes less personal and it can imply that these people have something very important to hide and fear retribution as a result. So no, I wouldn't trust a group of people wearing the same mask - a Fawkesian one more than anything else due to what I know about Fawkes in what he attempted to accomplish, the means by which he tried to make it happen, and the motivations behind his actions.

    I feel that if you have nothing to hide and haven't done anything wrong, you have nothing to fear.

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    I feel that if you have nothing to hide and haven't done anything wrong, you have nothing to fear.
    Guy Fawkes masks are stupid and all but human history is filled with innocent people who got screwed by speaking out against the establishment or a powerful group. You don't need to have a dark secret to be able to be fucked over.

  16. #16
    White Knight Police Black's Avatar
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    It's not important that V wears it, not really- what's important is that, by virtue of its nature of being a mask, you can project anyone onto it, and in doing so V becomes everyone, as Evie notes in the final scene while its obviously visually sign posted what with every character in the film (excepting the really bad ones, but including the dead good ones) wearing one then removing them at the same moment.
    Isn't it a little interesting that the vast majority of the people who adopt this mask are young white males?

  17. Gamers Lounge Senior Member Company of Heroes Senior Member Dawn of War II Senior Member  #17
    Dimension,
    Back in my riot police days...
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    From my (recent) experience, sensible police commanders won't enforce this law as long as the atmosphere is peaceful. A friend who took part in an ACTA demonstration reported that police even sanctioned those masks there officially. Strict enforcement would often escalate the situation more than those wearers.
    Still, the Bepo seems to have a comparably large number of guys who are "looking for an opportunity to commit violence" as well...

    Discussing the historical figure seems superfluous to me. Just like the symbol of Christianity isn't about glorifying a cruel form of ancient capital punishment, neither are those masks about Guy Fawkes.
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  18. #18
    Dexter Ramrod's Avatar
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    It's exactly as sporty, Shoota Fodder and Kirjava have said.

    The masks may indirectly have had something to do with Guy Fawkes when the first 4chan users put them on for the first few protests back when the trend started around 2005/2006, but the suggestion that it was intentional is highly unlikely. Looking at the release dates, V for Vendetta (whose main character, V, styled himself as a Guy Fawkes-esque vigilante) came out in 2005, and was 4chan's favourite movie for a short while, so it is more probable that this trend started as tribute to V.

    Today, since many users on the various *chan sites identify that mask specifically with Anonymous, it has about 1% to do with the history of Guy Fawkes, and more to do with presenting oneself as part of a collective.


    EDIT:
    As for Akranadas' and Rotlung's suggestion that it is for anonymity, I believe that depends on what the intention of remaining anonymous is. To hide one's identity and protect oneself from legal repercussions? To some extent, sure. To hide one's identity and present oneself as part of a faceless entity? This is probably the primary aim.

    You have to understand that for 4chan users, remaining anonymous is a status symbol first and foremost, and a way to protect your identity second. Even the 4chan users who don't participate in anything illegal are vehement about remaining anonymous. This same culture of anonymity is where Anonymous spawned from, so we can assume a lot of the same values apply.

    NOTE: I am differentiating between your average anonymous 4chan user (lowercase a) and the group that calls itself Anonymous (uppercase A) because the latter is only a small part of the former.
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  19. General Discussions Senior Member  #19
    terrible, terrible damage Starfisher's Avatar
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    Isn't it a little interesting that the vast majority of the people who adopt this mask are young white males?
    Er, no, not really. The demographic you're looking for is people who know about 4chan, which is predominately young white males. The mask is just one of the various affections of that community.

    If it catches on as something other than "oh shit the internet is here", then we'll see who wears it.

  20. Dawn of War Senior Member  #20
    Antipostmodern Aron_DeTomado's Avatar
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    I don't know what sort of Utopian Lah-lah-land you're living in if you think Scientologists and iron-fist dictators are the only reason to be anonymous at a protest. The whole "they are only looking for trouble" sounds like police propaganda 101, and I have a hard time believing it without a proper source.

    I am active in the Swedish Pirate Party. Our platform is based on civil liberties and information policy, for those who don't know. When we have conferences (as in closed-doors, members only) with organised debates on what we want to change through the democratic process and such, there is usually one or two who don't want to be photographed because if someone at work saw them they could lose their jobs. When I talk to young people interested in joining our youth league it is very common that they are afraid to do so because of what their (legally irrelevant, in this context) parents might think. And that's not even getting into how racism and sexism (which as Black demonstrates, can certainly affect white men) might affect the impact of non-anonymous protests.

    If you are participating in a public protest against something, you could have every reason to do so anonymously without looking to start a riot. Disguising yourself with a Guy Fawkes mask is comparable to wearing a Keffiyeh as a political symbol: It signals political unity and shows which side you're on in a particular political issue.
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  21. #21
    Dexter Ramrod's Avatar
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    Aron, was that directed at me?

    If so, you missed the point entirely. My post was about the meaning behind Anonymous' Guy Fawkes mask trend. Nowhere in my post did I say protestors don't have to hide their identities.

    The fact that it hides your face is the reason Anonymous chose a mask, it is not the reason they chose a Guy Fawkes mask. See the difference?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aron_DeTomado
    Disguising yourself with a Guy Fawkes mask is comparable to wearing a Keffiyeh as a political symbol: It signals political unity and shows which side you're on in a particular political issue.
    I know. I said that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ramrod
    ...it has about 1% to do with the history of Guy Fawkes, and more to do with presenting oneself as part of a collective.

  22. Dawn of War Senior Member  #22
    Antipostmodern Aron_DeTomado's Avatar
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    No, actually, it was directed at the people who expressly stated they're against people protesting anonymously

  23. #23
    Dexter Ramrod's Avatar
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    Then I take back my snappy tone! To ease the high concentration of irritability in my post, please imagine an ASCII heart at the end of every sentence. <3

  24. #24
    Member Wintermute's Avatar
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    Browsed through the thread and didn't see this posted. I think it could be relevant.

    BBC Interview with Alan Moore on the rise of the Guy Fawkes mask and its usage in protests.

    He seems to like it.
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  25. Homeworld Senior Member  #25
    Your night worstmare. Dimension's Avatar
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    in the case of the guy fawkes masks, the mask itself has purpose beyond just anonymizing themselves. this muddles the point.

    however, allowing widespread anomyzation, especially when combined with uniformity, will inevitably create chaos. there are large numbers of people whose primary goal is to live out control, power and anarchic fantasies. those people will inevitably take advantage of this situation, mix in with regular protesters, and bring on the violence. this is not fantasy, this is already happening, and wearing masks will make it a hell of a lot easier, simpler and more compelling.

    I've been there, thats all I'm going to say about it. I have friends who've stood on the other side of the fence as well. And let me tell you one thing, none of the activists who're thinking straight want people like the black block in there. having those people associate with something you care for is not going to promote the issue to those who have yet to make up their mind about it. thats why serious activists dislike the clowns army as well. although they're not violent, they will detract from the message you're trying to convey, leading the point of protesting ad absurdum.

    noone advocating anonymity at protests has properly thought the ramifications through.

    and no, in my previous experience, noone who masked himself during a protest wasn't looking for trouble. I also have to note, that all those who masked themselves were readily identifiable as someone belonging to some form of black block, and those people don't give a shit about what the protest is about. their goals are primarily anarchistic and disruptive. Same thing with the clown army, but since they've so far not been violent to my knowledge, I'm willing to tolerate that.

    I'm frankly surprised that belonging to the swedish pirate party would be considered such a big deal that you would lose your job over it.

    but no matter, the point of a protest is to stand as a person, united with others, and bring awareness to an issue that is of high importance for you. If you value your job or your standing with the parents as higher than the protest, then you maybe shouldn't be at that protest. You shouldn't protest just because its easy, and you've got nothing better to do. You should protest because you feel strongly about a certain issue.

    I feel bad for those who get excluded because they feel like they're prosecuted for their beliefs (unless those beliefs are rightfully prosecuted), but forbidding widespread masking at protests on principle is saving lives. Period. I'm not exaggerating.

    Of course that particular law is not enforced in most situations, but thats okay, as you'd have to escalate the sitatuation to get at them, and because only the troublemakers mask themselves, while regular protesters don't, making troublemakers identifiable.

    Thinking back the the right-wing/left-wing protests in Dresden for instance, things always went the same way. People protest peacefully. then a black block forms. then they mask themselves. then they start throwing bricks and bottles. using the regular protesters as shields whenever possible. its disgusting.

  26. Dawn of War Senior Member  #26
    Antipostmodern Aron_DeTomado's Avatar
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    This is based on your experience as a riot police? Isn't the job of riot police to, you know, police riots? Are you saying that during a riot, people are predisposed to rioting? Because I think we're approaching tautological territory here.

    You are mistaking correlation for causation here. There are people who riot without masks, and there are people who wear masks without rioting. Masks do not "cause" riots. Also, can't you just remove people's masks once you start making arrests?

    The idea that a person should have to give up their job to exercise their right to protest is insane. Freedom of speech should be unconditional.

  27. Gamers Lounge Senior Member Company of Heroes Senior Member Dawn of War II Senior Member  #27
    I can relate to his experiences, since protests about politically right/left subjects almost always feature participants who mask themselves in order to get away with criminal offences. It's not realistically possible to arrest more than a select few, that's probably why Dimension feels strongly about the prospect of the entire host being masked. Still believe his opposition to masks is too generalising, but considering the nature of German political demonstrations, you can see where he's coming from.

    Also, don't get too hung up on the term "riot police", that's usually an inadequate term considering the associated duties. Unless Dimension was in the USK or a comparable branch, those are said to be thugs

  28. #28
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    Dimension: Should people who vote also show everyone what/who they are voting for?

    Because attending a protest is much like showing the world your voter card before dropping it into the little box. Not everyone wants to do that.

    Wouldn't it be nice, though, if you could just round up all the people who voted differently to you so you could... re-educate them.

    Anyone who wears a mask at a protest should have full rights to do so. Discrimination can affect them at their job, their children's school, their place of worship, their home, or even just out in public and someone recognizes them. People get bent out of shape for all sorts of reasons.

    By wearing a mask (particularly one that signifies unity like the Guy Fawkes masks) in a protest allows one to add their voice, their presence and their solidarity to a cause without being subject to possible reprisals from anyone who disagrees and would try to harm them in some way a few days later.

    Anonymity is a rather large... no, scratch that, is possibly the single reason why democracy is able to be as successful as it is. Protests are a way for people to express their displeasure about policies and to show the government that the people are against things. It's part of democracy. If you take the ability for anonymity away the only thing that happens is that you suddenly install a dictatorship.

    Anonymity is democracy. Democracy is anonymity. Take anonymity away and it is no longer democracy. Your choice.
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  29. Child's Play Donor Technical Help Senior Member General Discussions Senior Member Company of Heroes Senior Member Forum Subscriber  #29
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    Isn't the job of riot police to, you know, police riots?
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  30. #30
    Persnickety South African Mirage Knight's Avatar
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    The job is to prevent riots.
    Or at the very least, keeping an existing one from getting out of hand.

    Anonymity is democracy. Democracy is anonymity. Take anonymity away and it is no longer democracy. Your choice.
    Last I heard, democracy is generally about giving the masses an equal opportunity to express their opinions on state policies and granting the citizenry the power to shape those policies and the actions of the government through the privilege of voting. In a democracy, the citizenry chooses which individuals and what laws will govern them. If you start heavily restricting the voice of the citizenry and their ability to vote in change, that's when you start moving away from a democracy.

    It seems to me that by throwing a generic mask that grants anonymity onto any group, you run the risk of making said group less human and more elitist to others. Give a group a human face as it were, and you're liable to garner greater sympathy for that group.

  31. #31
    If everyone's votes in every election were publicly available on a website, how long do you think democracy would remain democracy?
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  32. #32
    Disciple of Khaine darkelf's Avatar
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    Mirage, a basic tenet of modern democracy is anonymous voting. That way it is much harder to bully people into voting for something specific (and impossible to see if the bullying is working).

    As for protests, some people do risk reprisals from work/family/whatever for publicly displaying their views (in a protest or otherwise). Therefore it is logical that they be able to protest for their cause without risking their job or personal safety.
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  33. #33
    Persnickety South African Mirage Knight's Avatar
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    If everyone's votes in every election were publicly available on a website, how long do you think democracy would remain democracy?
    As for protests, some people do risk reprisals from work/family/whatever for publicly displaying their views (in a protest or otherwise). Therefore it is logical that they be able to protest for their cause without risking their job or personal safety.
    Yes I do agree with this. What I was trying to convey was the idea that hiding behind a mask that makes you look less than human runs the risk of putting off people that you're trying to garner sympathy and support from.

    When I see a photo of a protester in the streets with their face obscured by a bandana or a ski mask for example, I think to myself "This is a person who seems to have a legitimate grievance and feels the need to express themselves in this way to fix what they perceive to be a very real problem, but obviously fears being arrested or harassed for expressing themselves." Now, I can still see the person's eyes and enough features of their face that I can see how they really feel and connect with them...and maybe even sympathize with their cause. I don't know who this person is, I can't identify them, but I can still see how they feel. I can still ascertain how genuine they are.

    But a person that obliterates all their facial features? I can't read their feelings. I can't connect with them. Who knows what's going on behind that mask?

  34. General Discussions Senior Member The Studio Senior Member Boardwars Senior Member  #34
    Beware of Zombified Terrorists Langy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dimension View Post
    I'm frankly surprised that belonging to the swedish pirate party would be considered such a big deal that you would lose your job over it.
    I can certainly see it happening in certain circumstances, such as if he was working for a computer program developer or publisher, in television/film, or otherwise worked for a company whose interests would be massively harmed (or a reasonable person could assume they'd be massively harmed) if the pirate party got its way.

  35. Dawn of War Senior Member  #35
    Antipostmodern Aron_DeTomado's Avatar
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    Mirage: There are obviously risks as far as political impact is concerned, but surely you must agree that it is up to the individual protester to make that call?

  36. #36
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    Mirage Knight: One would assume that you look at the message and determine if it is worth giving a shit about rather than looking at people's eyes.

    Seriously? What could you tell from a person in a protest's eyes?

    I'd venture the idea that simply by them being in the protest in the first place you could get a lot more from that than from seeing their eyes.

    Many people mistakenly believe that they can somehow 'read' a person by their eyes. Just seeing eyes gives you nothing. You can't tell a frown from a scowl by the eyes, you can't tell anger from interest, you can't tell confusion from fear, etc.

    The only thing seeing the eyes of a protester can possibly do is cause you to transfer your thoughts and feelings.

    You don't know who the guy with the bandanna/ski-mask is any more than you know my neighbor. You can't read their feelings any more than you can mine through my posts. You can not connect with them any more or less than someone with a full mask.

    Sure, you can make assumptions about them, but your bias against full masks will be active and your bias for ski-masks/bandannas will be in play too.

    Not to mention that bandannas are typically associated with gangs and ski-masks with criminals. These are bad connotations.

    You simply have your own bad connotation with Guy Fawkes masks. That's fine. But to try and explain it by talking about removing support and/or removing sympathy...

    Support and sympathy is about the reason for the protest. Not what the protesters wear.

    Or are you that shallow?

  37. Gamers Lounge Senior Member General Discussions Senior Member  #37
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    Re: LoCo's point about bandanas, ski masks and negative connotations, has anyone wearing a Guy Fawkes mask rioted or whatnot yet? I don't believe so (though I can't say I've got any evidence either way apart from recollections of news reports- if someone has something, I'll revise that) and as such it seems unwarranted to fear mob violence from people wearing them.

  38. Homeworld Senior Member  #38
    Your night worstmare. Dimension's Avatar
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    First off, I don't know why you're dragging democracy and voting in there. this is about freedom of speech. I can see where you're coming from, but still, we're going off on a tangent here.

    I'd be okay with masking, provided people remain civil.

    But sadly, that is not reality. widespread usage of masks will make it too easy for those wanting to commit crimes to remain unidentifiable, or make it appear to be. And then things will turn illegal. As far as I'm concerned, this is inevitable. Every piece of experience I have points to it. There are a select few protests that won't attract such people because of their topic, but you can bet your life they'll be there when its something left vs right, anti-nuclear or anti-globalization. They won't necessarily act, but they're waiting for opportunities, which anonymity will provide.

    This is all about a select few ruining the party for everyone. I mean if you ask me, dozens, hundreds of people dressed in guy fawkes masks looks damn good, and certainly gets the attention.

    But there are other things going on. The right to peacefully and safely protest is more important over any right to do so anonymously. This anonymity is not worth risking injury or death , be it directly, through force, or indirectly by panic-induced tramplings. Its as simple as that, really.

    Well, unless you live in a country where there are no such groups, seeking disruption through violence and fear.

    Kirjava:

    this might sound stupid, but the reason that none of the guy fawkses have turned violent is because the people wearing those masks are peaceful people (apparently). But once this catches on with the wrong groups, you will see some violent people wearing thoses masks, unless the protests topic doesn't jive with them for some reason. which is certainly to be hoped for.

  39. Modding Senior Member Dawn of War II Senior Member  #39
    For the First Time in Forever Buguba's Avatar
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    Many people mistakenly believe that they can somehow 'read' a person by their eyes. Just seeing eyes gives you nothing. You can't tell a frown from a scowl by the eyes, you can't tell anger from interest, you can't tell confusion from fear, etc.
    You can tell if they're looking into the sun or not.

    /endpointlesscontribution

    Mirage, a basic tenet of modern democracy is anonymous voting. That way it is much harder to bully people into voting for something specific (and impossible to see if the bullying is working).
    Just to throw this out there, I think a lot of you are forgetting about the age-old debate of absentee ballots. The concept of anonymous voting has been dead even before the internet was on the scene.

    Now, absentee ballots CAN be anonymous, but they can just as easily not be anonymous too. Even if the only person who sees your ballot is your husband, wife, or kids, the consequences can reach from negligible to devastating. That's the way information interacts with people (even the ones you're close to). In some ways, I'd say absentee ballots have done a lot more to destroy the supposed "tenet" of anonymous voting than protesting has.

    This isn't to say that there's no use to discussing the values or dangers associated with anonymity in protests. I just want to remind you guys that this Guy Fawkes movement isn't going to infringe on something that hasn't already been trampled on.
    "You must be swift as the coursing river, with all the force of a great typhoon, with all the strength of a raging fire, mysterious as the dark side of the moon."

  40. #40
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    Dimension: I brought democracy up because it A) has strong ties to protesting and B) you mentioned that if people aren't willing to show their faces then they obviously don't really feel that strongly about the protest.

    A) is easy to understand, there is a link.

    B) is a very lame argument so I countered it easily.

    The rest of your argument seems to boil down to "This is the way things are/will be, because I say so." which really doesn't hold much water at all. So unless you want to provide some facts or a well reasoned argument that doesn't follow the lines of "in my experience" or "I think this because I'm a cop so trust me" I'm afraid there isn't much more to say other than: Na aaah.

    Buguba: While I see your point, there is a small sticking point. Absentee ballots are voluntary. Also, they are still supposed to be anonymous.

    Not everyone is concerned about their vote being anonymous. That's fine.

    But for the people who are concerned about it, they have the right and privilege to anonymity. The same is, and should continue to be, true for taking part in a protest. The only time anti-anonymity/exposure should ever be forced on anyone is after they have committed a crime. Dimension seems to want to enforce it to be on the safe side. That sounds reasonable.

    Until some anti-abortion (random nut sample, no offense to anyone) nut sees his neighbor in a pro-choice protest on the 8 o-clock news and reaches for his gun.

    Fine, bad things can happen.

    But what if the neighbor had wanted to wear a mask and Dimension said he either takes it off or goes to jail.

    Are the police not able to arrest people who are violent during protests?

    Does violence somehow not happen already? Before the masks turned up?

    Are the masks to blame? Or would these violent people be violent anyway?

    Sure, it might, possibly make things harder sometimes for the police. But then so does not having surveillance cameras on every street corner, hell... how much easier would the police have it if everyone had to wear an identity badge in plain sight that also recorded video/sound? Should we be going in that direction, stripping freedoms just to make things easier for the police?

    Or should they just step up and do the job they signed up for?

  41. Homeworld Senior Member  #41
    Your night worstmare. Dimension's Avatar
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    LoCo, I'm sorry, but as far as I'm concerned, I'm a source. getting a feel for how people react, knowing what they'll do, and which circumstances may lead to violent behaviour was nothing less but an integral part of my job for a few years. I've been to protests on regular, almost daily basis. So regular in fact, that you could hardly call my experiences anecdotal. I don't really think you're in a position to doubt me unless you're implying I'm lying about what I did professionally. Which I suppose is Okay if you don't trust me, this is the internet, so I can't blame you.

    One thing I failed to make clear, and for which I apologize is that 1) I'm biased of course by the fact that I'm a policeman and thus concerned with the safety of those involved. I'm biased because I have a responsibility to myself, and those that care about me to not put myself into unnecessary danger.

    2) I can only speak for the legal and social realities in the country I worked in and am thus familiar with. However, since many organizations are active in multiple countries and/or were started there (i.e. clowns army, anti-globals, anarchists), I'm pretty sure that what I experienced applies to other countries as well to some extent.


    now to answer your post more in depth.

    "A) is easy to understand, there is a link."
    Yes, and there are differences. Voting has a direct legislative impact. Voting is exerting direct power upon the goverenment, be it through decisions communally voted on, or appointing someone to a post. It is what actually gets shit done. Thus protecting anonymity here is very very important.

    Protesting however, is indirect. Technically, you're exerting no direct power onto the government at all, which might sway their decision. Of course protesting works. This is because the government, given enough force, will be persuaded to act on behalf of the protesters for fear of repercussions come the next election, or even sooner. Protesting is also near-instantaneous and can raise awareness when it is "needed", so it does have its place. however, unlike voting, it does not actually impact the current governments actions. And unlike with voting, anonymity at a protest is not an integral right, at least not in my country. And I'm aware of no country where this is the case, or I'd wager you'd see masked protests more often by orders of magnitude. You may of course feel it ought to be a right to remain anonymous, fair game to you. But this is merely your opinion, as far as I can tell, and not legal reality.

    If anyone knows a country where this is in fact the case, I'd be honestly fascinated to hear about it, and the way this impacts the protest culture however.

    "B is a very lame argument, so I countered it easily"
    Did you? I don't really know. People, as it is, will prioritize their need to voice their opinions against being discriminated for it. I wonder however, if you care to back up the scale of this problem. Because I've never perceived this to be one in my little corner of the world.

    I still think you're going off on a tangent, and this little bit here: "Wouldn't it be nice, though, if you could just round up all the people who voted differently to you so you could... re-educate them." seems to be quite telling of that. This is utopian, and not reality in any of the more civilized states, which, adhere to some form of constitution granting people certain rights. And no, protesting and showing your face doing it absolutely is not the same thing as showing people your voting card with your personal data on it.

    "But what if the neighbor had wanted to wear a mask and Dimension said he either takes it off or goes to jail."
    Wait, so you're blaming an essential part of deescalating a protest for the fact that some nut is just crazy enough to kill someone for attending a protest? What really is the cause of the harm here? The guy having to show his face (which alone doesn't make him lose anonymity unless someone knows him), or the crazy gun wielder? This doesn't really make sense to me.

    Not to mention such psychopaths are actually a very rare thing, unlike violent pseudo-protesters which come by the dozen. Of course you were exaggerating, but might I add that discriminating because of personal opinion is in many instances illegal? Might I also add, that to a large degree you have a right to your own photo, making it illegal for media to air an interview with you without your consent? Not to mention that if you want to remain unnoticed by your dad, why don't you, I don't know, NOT stand in first, second or third row? With the way protests are covered by the media, the odds of being recognized in the 9 o clock news is pretty damn slim. And with very few exceptions, noone can force you to disclose your (true) identity.

    Of course, I can only speak for the legal realities here in germany. If you have no similar laws protecting your identity in your country, I can understand the perceived need for masks. I still think that in this case, the fundamental problem is the lack of legislature protecting your identity from publication, and not the fact you're not allowed to obscure your facial features.

    "Are the police not able to arrest people who are violent during protests?"
    In some cases, most certainly not, and for multitudes of reasons. These include not wanting to escalate the situation into more violence, problems of a closed unit moving through a throng versus single persons or small groups to do the same thing, the habit to use other protesters as living shields (including children and handicapped people), unavailability of enough forces to perform the arrest, not wanting to induce panic and thus cause severe injury or death. In maybe 90-95% of all cases, the police has be content with gathering the evidence (video footage for instance) and then bide its time until the perpetrators can be isolated and arrested without such a big risk to 3rd parties. everyone being masked will make this much harder.

    "Does violence somehow not happen already? Before the masks turned up?"
    Are you even being serious? We are not talking about "whether or not", we are talking about "how much". This should be crystal clear to anyone.

    "Are the masks to blame? Or would these violent people be violent anyway?"
    Okay, in case you were serious, here's the skinny. Violent people are violent, and when the opportunity comes, they will commit violence. Widespread masking, and thus the chance to commit violence without being prosecuted for it will multiply the opportunities to commit violence. This is achingly simple.

    Really, I think you need to overthink your position. The reality of the matter is, that thinking along your lines will very likely cause a lot more physical harm than is even remotely proportional. You're endangering policemen (which despite the tone of your post, are people as well. You're talking to one, actually), but also, and this is very crucial, the protesters themselves for all those reasons I pointed out in this post, and in my previous ones. I find that to be kind of cold, really, and doesn't lend your concern for the welfare of protesters much credibility, if you ask me. Looks more like you don't actually care for them but instead have a mild obsession with a certain human right, and cannot accept when some people and/or constitutions say that certain other human rights take precedence over it.
    Last edited by Dimension; 3rd Mar 12 at 5:46 AM. Reason: cleaning up

  42. #42
    Meh. Everyone has a camera everywhere nowadays. You go somewhere, anywhere, a big protest in particular, doesn't matter where you stand, SOMEONE will get you on camera and you'll be on youtube in 5 minutes, guaranteed.

    Neighbors who will murder you for being at a protest are rare? Well, yes... But taking a view that's unpopular in your neighborhood in general can certainly put you at risk for all sorts of hardships and suffering, violence and death are just the extreme examples of the point. I mean, we can point to obvious examples like civil rights and such... Should the guy who lives in an area full of KKK members need to have his vote on such things be public? Should he have to show his face if he attends a protest against a school that won't let black students attend?

    And a uniform masked group identity is actually a lot less likely than individual masks to be a sign of violence in the making IMO... Unless the group as a whole is out for violence, the group is going to disapprove severely of someone wearing "their uniform" doing something that paints them all badly (And will probably drag him off behind the figurative woodshed and beat his ass.

  43. #43
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    At what point do we declare the wearing of Guy Fawkes masks to be illegal? Is there some kind of critical mass of masking which pushes beyond the boundaries of tolerable behaviour? If I choose to walk down the main street of Perth in a Guy Fawkes mask by myself, people are more than likely to think I'm a little weird. If myself and a couple of friends did it, then the weirdness increases, or potentially becomes comedic. The fact remains, however, that unless and until I commit an offense wearing that mask, I still haven't done anything wrong.

    Undeniably, protests and strikes periodically come with a side serving of disruption and violence. Do masks make it easier for some people to protest? I suspect so. Do they also make it easier for some people to commit criminal acts? Quite probably. However, unless some kind of causal link between the wearing of masks at a public protest and the sudden desire to commit violent crime can be sustained, any move to make mask-wearing illegal is both more than a little draconian and concerning at the same time. I, amongst others, have a blasted right to wear that mask if I wish to do so. Of course, an officer of the WA State Police can ask me to take it off, to verify my identity, and I would gladly do so. I, for one, would also provide him/her with my name and address as well, if requested. Then I'd put the mask back on, and go back to doing whatever I was doing.
    All we want to do,
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  44. Homeworld Senior Member  #44
    Your night worstmare. Dimension's Avatar
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    "Meh. Everyone has a camera everywhere nowadays. You go somewhere, anywhere, a big protest in particular, doesn't matter where you stand, SOMEONE will get you on camera and you'll be on youtube in 5 minutes, guaranteed."

    yeah, that probably is a problem to an extent. but its not as tough as you make it out to be in my experience. I once had a situation escalate in berlin, where a few hundred people overran a secondary police blockade. I was among the forces pushing them back (trouble in that situation was, that they were literally meters from the route their self-declared political arch-enemies were going to take). It was among the most frantic experiences I ever had, so me and pretty much the entire unit was scrubbing youtube, flickr and the various other media sites to get different angles on what happened and to see if one of us had been caught on cam. You could call this a tradition even, we used to do this a lot.


    We found a few videos, but I'm talking like 2 or three tops. In those videos, you saw the first 3-4 rows of people and the police lines facing off. Not a big deal, for the reasons outlined in the previous post. Once the action heated up, the video shook in a manner that made identifying people nigh impossible.

    And the thing is, all those vids on youtube? they all tend to fall into three categories: people being voluntarily interviewed, groups shouting/presenting their slogans (again, can't see much past the first 3 rows), and conflict videos, which usually show the same first three rows, and are so shakey because of the action going on that it might make James Bourne feel motion sick.

    Your second paragraph is exaggerating things to the point of non-applicability imo. Neighbourhoods full of KKK? Schools not accepting black students? We don't live in 1950's america anymore. some of us never did. And again, noone is demanding votes to be public afaict, and voting simply is not the same thing as protesting.

    "And a uniform masked group identity is actually a lot less likely than individual masks to be a sign of violence in the making IMO... "
    Very true. In fact, I said something very similar when I was commenting on the ban on masks not being strictly enforced depending on the situation. That wasn't my point. My point is, that widespread masking makes it easier and thus more compelling to commit crimes because the chances you won't be caught are soaring.

    "the group is going to disapprove severely of someone wearing "their uniform" doing something that paints them all badly (And will probably drag him off behind the figurative woodshed and beat his ass)."
    Sadly, this never happens. those "someones" wearing their uniform are hardly ever alone, they are actually there predominantly because they're looking for a good row and have the demeanor to go with it. A family father who's attending the gig with a couple of mates and colleagues will not step up and start a fight with the black block. He realistically cannot win, and the responsibility to act is so diluted across the protesters that noone ever does anything. Well, I actually wouldn't be surprised if you were the one guy brave and stubborn enough to act, but people like you are so rare they sadly don't make a difference in the grand scheme of things.


    @comrade:
    the ban on masks only applies to protests, not walking down the street by yourself or even in a group.

    you may call the ban draconian. I call it pragmatic, and necessary. It has unquestionably saved my bacon a few times, and I'm grateful for it. The ban on masks is primarily intended as preemptive, not as repressive law, in other words, to avert danger, not to punish wrong behaviour. Again, wearing a mask is not illegal in and of itself. But masking is used as a tool to commit crimes in many situations, including protests, which is why they made a law restricting the freedom to wear masks in that particular situation.

    "I, amongst others, have a blasted right to wear that mask if I wish to do so."
    Do you? Really? Is this actually set in law where you are from? Or is it merely not forbidden to do so? What I'm getting at is that there is a difference between having the freedom to do something and the right to. To bring out the old nut, your freedom stops where somebody elses freedom begins. Or to put it in another way, you don't have the freedom to violate the rights of someone else unless your own right takes precedence. The right of non-violent protesters and of me to be at a protest without danger of getting hurt takes precedence over your right to anonymity.
    Last edited by Dimension; 3rd Mar 12 at 7:30 AM.

  45. #45
    Neighborhoods full of KKK still exist in parts of the US, though obviously they're rare little pockets of backward, even in redneck areas. But I was specifically addressing the 50s/60s south with my argument. I don't see a difference between protest and voting, they're both part and parcel of democracy, equally important, really. A democracy that doesn't allow organized protests is no more a democracy than a democracy that doesn't allow voting. My question still stands, how much worse would things have been with the civil rights movement, the movement to allow blacks to vote, and so on, if what anonymity is afforded the voters was stripped away? How many fewer persons would show up to a rally against a similarly entrenched injustice today, knowing that their picture would be out there on youtube and facebook the next day, compared to the relative anonymity afforded by a crowd back then?

    That said, I also pointed out that there's a whole spectrum of suck that can result from having yourself associated with a particular political movement, especially an unpopular one (And the unpopular movements need the most protection). You could easily lose your job, find that your kids aren't allowed to play with the neighbors' kids anymore, find yourself the target of harassment, social shunning, etc, etc. Happens all the fucking time.

    And come live in SoCal for a while... People film everything. The cops arrest someone, even a casual, uneventful collar, and 20 people will be there filming with their phones in the hopes that something interesting happens. A protest will be getting filmed by a thousand people, at least. Half of them in the crowd of protestors. The chances of your face showing up online are just too high.

  46. #46
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    I think I'm going to have to continue to disagree with you, Dimension. My wearing that mask violates no-one else's rights. The point that I was making still stands - which is that my violation of someone else's rights actually commences when I cause a harm to them. Not when someone who may or may not be wearing the same mask/t-shirt/bear suit as I am causes a harm to them. The argument that I indirectly cause a harm to them by facilitating the actions of harm-doers who wear similar masks is an interesting one - but not one which I think is cause for the Government to intervene to regulate the dress standard of protesters.

    Also, a protest is a group of people walking down a street, somewhere, usually making a fuss about something. I've been the police liason for a few student rallies in my time (a job which usually consists of getting the more loud-mouthed students to stop insulting the poor coppers detailed to look after the protest). Maybe the inherent apathy/laziness of most Australians causes us to protest differently to the rest of the world, but I've very rarely seen protesters go over the top, masks or no.

    Also, I think Paladin makes an excellent point. People are, thanks to technology, inherently more identifiable than they were even 20 years ago. That, in itself, may provide a justification for methods of rendering oneself anonymous at protests.

  47. Modding Senior Member Dawn of War II Senior Member  #47
    For the First Time in Forever Buguba's Avatar
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    While I see your point, there is a small sticking point. Absentee ballots are voluntary. Also, they are still supposed to be anonymous.
    Technically that's not completely true. In the United States, both Oregon and Washington do their voting process completely through postal ballots. That said, you're right. Absentee ballots are supposed to be anonymous while protests are not.

    That said, I also pointed out that there's a whole spectrum of suck that can result from having yourself associated with a particular political movement, especially an unpopular one (And the unpopular movements need the most protection). You could easily lose your job, find that your kids aren't allowed to play with the neighbors' kids anymore, find yourself the target of harassment, social shunning, etc, etc. Happens all the fucking time.
    Just to play devil's advocate here, at what point should you *not* be liable for your own beliefs once you announce them to the world? I don't mean this to say that people who protest deserve maltreatment (it's one of democracy's most essential civil liberties), but isn't a natural repercussion of an extreme view always going to be social ostracism? If you're not willing to take some flak for your belief, then why are you on the streets protesting for it with a huge sign instead of just writing to your state senator?

    Again, I'm not saying that people who fight for minority views deserve to be killed or beaten, but at some level you can't expect to put your toes in the fire and not get burned. Social reform for the better usually comes with the sacrifice of a lot of good people. It's unfortunate how much blood, sweat, and tears can be involved, but it also helps weed out a lot of the social reforms that *aren't* for the better. Case in point: an anonymous KKK nut job on the internet is infinitely louder than a KKK nut job on the street.
    Last edited by Buguba; 3rd Mar 12 at 3:58 PM.

  48. #48
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    Dimension: I'm not calling you a liar at all. Hell, I even think you believe what you say to be the whole and complete truth. However, you have a rather strong bias which hampers anything you have to say on this particular matter. You have been on the police end of riots. (Also, stop trying to twist my words to make it sound like I'm out to get the police. That's immature.) All you see is the disaster and the potential disaster. Your mind is occupied with searching for threats. I'm not even saying you are wrong in that. What I am saying is that because of your biased, entrenched position (One which you must hold or you/others could be harmed) you are not the sanest place to look to for answers. For opinions? Sure. For information? Sure. But to dictate policy? Most definitely not. You can not be expected to provide an unbiased view. It will always come back to safety for you. But there are different kinds of safety and people are willing to take on certain risks but not others. People are willing to give up certain things but not others.

    Protests have been turning ugly long before Guy Fawkes masks joined the fray. Protests get ugly even when people don't wear any masks of any kind. One could even make the argument that Guy Fawkes masks help to keep protests peaceful because they offer more solidarity and they are a symbol. People take their symbols very seriously and tend to defend them. So anyone causing trouble while wearing a Guy Fawkes mask is just as likely to be turned on if others believe their image is being harmed, their symbol is being misrepresented.

    If you could prove that masks make people more prone to violence during protests, then there might be a point in there. But as it is, all you can provide is a one sided view which is inherently bias. Sure, there can be some useful information there, but it must be sifted carefully and then taken with a grain of salt.

    For instance... How exactly did a ban on wearing masks unquestionably saved [your] bacon a few times? Are you deathly allergic to wool and a bunch of people told you they would have worn woolen masks and rubbed their faces all over you if not for the ban?

    You've been in hairy situations. Great. Someone wearing a mask or not wouldn't change those situations.

    Also, voting and protesting are the same in terms of showing your views/choices/votes. If you see me at a protest against abortion, you can safely assume that I'm against abortion. If you see me at a protest of the current government, you can safely assume that I'm against the current government. That's effectively you finding out my vote.

    Buguba: What makes you say that protests are not supposed to be anonymous? A large reason for protests in the first place is the safety in numbers. To a point that provides some anonymity, or at least... it used to. But with modern day tech, that anonymity can only be gained through masks. Scarfs, hats, bandannas, ski-masks, etc. have always been used to allow people to keep others from identifying them. It's a dangerous world, Dimension has that right, and in today's world one of the biggest dangers to you is being identified.

    I understand that not everybody shares the same view. Hell, most of you guys likely have facebook accounts where you post pictures of yourself doing all kinds of shit. Many of you likely don't give a shit that people can now see a complete history of everything you've ever done on facebook.

    But there are people who do care about their privacy. You have no right to force them to show you their views (through seeing which protests they attend) just because you don't care about it.

    Personally I don't attend protests for the very reasons Dimension says masks are bad. Because protests can turn ugly. But if someone else wants to take that risk, but does not want to show his face... who are you to demand he does? Unless he being violent, he should be free to do as he pleases and keep his identity as hidden as possible.

  49. Modding Senior Member Dawn of War II Senior Member  #49
    For the First Time in Forever Buguba's Avatar
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    What makes you say that protests are not supposed to be anonymous? A large reason for protests in the first place is the safety in numbers. To a point that provides some anonymity, or at least... it used to. But with modern day tech, that anonymity can only be gained through masks. Scarfs, hats, bandannas, ski-masks, etc. have always been used to allow people to keep others from identifying them. It's a dangerous world, Dimension has that right, and in today's world one of the biggest dangers to you is being identified.
    I totally agree with the notion of "safety in numbers" in protest scenarios. Even before personal cameras though, being identified has always been a danger associated with protest. There's never been a point in time where you could protest without risking your identity. The danger is more profound due to modern technology, but technology has opened up significantly more venues to remain anonymous as well. They might not have had camera phones during the civil rights movement, but they also didn't have e-mail or internet. That's why I mentioned that you could write a letter to your senator. Protests aren't limited to street-walking anymore. I think the whole SOPA fiasco proves just how effective online movements (something only made possible through modern technology) can be without the need for large street protests.

    I definitely agree that people shouldn't be forced into my personal comfort zone of privacy. That said, I think there's a lot to be said against "real life" anonymity. You don't need to look any farther than Gabe's Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory theory to know how people react with anonymity and crowds. With all the options available to people now for people to protest without risking their identity, I think street protests are scenarios where safety can take precedence over personal desire.

    All this said though, I won't pretend to be educated on the matter. I think a lot here depends on just how likely "anonymous" crowds are to riot, and how much "identified" protesters are to get hurt.

  50. Gamers Lounge Senior Member General Discussions Senior Member  #50
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    i don't know why we're bashing V masks when clearly we should be bashing picket boards.
    one thing that ruins protests horribly is when there's hundreds of -different- picket boards with -different- messages and no-one actually know what it is you're protesting about.

    i'm in favour of masks because, when i go to a protest. i don't want to identified personally on television where my friends and co-workers can see me. they may or may not agree with my opinion and i don't want to break social and professional relationships just because i 'actively' protest against something they may or may not have strong views about.

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