Looking Like a Thug as Capital Crime

Oklahoma is considering  legally preventing people from concealing themselves “in a public place by means of a robe, mask, or other disguise,” via a proposed law the media is nicknaming the “hoodie ban.”  This, of course, in the wake of the Treyvon Martin shooting, in which his wearing of a hoodie potentially intimidated his shooter.

In Michigan, a black man was questioned by police for having his hands in his pockets on a cold December day, because that somehow made him suspicious.  I’d really like to know if the pockets were part of a hoodie, or if all pockets are now considered potentially dangerous, at least on African Americans.

England’s “Bloody Code”

It’s not the first time we’ve perhaps reacted with a wee bit over zealotry over people’s appearances and its connection with supposed crime.  In the 18th century, England had over 200 crimes which were capital offenses, which covered everything from murder and treason to the theft of a few shillings.

One of the weirdest, however, was the blackening of one’s face in nighttime, as it was thought one would only do it if they were up to no good.  Now, granted, blackening one’s face is certainly less mundane than wearing a hoodie, but the fact remains they might legally kill you because of the way you dressed, without any connection to a crime required.

Being in the companies of gypsies for more than a month could also get you executed.  I’m presuming that’s because of the notorious stereotypes of the Romani people (who consider gypsy to be derogatory) as being nothing but thieves and swindlers.  Again, you don’t have to be found guilty of any crime.  Just hanging out with the wrong people is enough.

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