August 23, 2013
Downtown superhero community upset at ban on masks
When an arachnid-themed superhero spun his webs in downtown Knoxville earlier this month, the last thing he expected was a $114 ticket. But that's exactly what the web-slinger received from the police: a citation for wearing a mask. According to a city ordinance, masks are not allowed to be worn in public.
The ban has some members of the Knoxville superhero community seeing red.
"This is really heartbreaking," said Spider-man. "All I wanted to do was avenge my uncle's death while making snappy banter. Do they really expect me to fight crime with no mask on like a common vigilante? Some of us have secret identities to maintain. If Doctor Octopus ever found out who was really behind this mask, my Aunt May would be so dead. Wait. Oh crap."
According to city officials the law dates to the turn of the century, well before ordinary citizens were bombarded by radiation and acquired super powers. Those masked heroes say all they want to do is parade around in public fighting crime in colorful underwear like they do-gooders they are.
Nor are the heroes alone. The ordinance's vague language would arguably ban other masked figures, including wrestlers and trick-or-treaters.
"This is so typical of the government and its attempts to regulate everything," said one Tennessee state Senator and luchador. "First you can't wear masks at University of Tennessee football games and now you can't wear them downtown. How do they expect me to protect people from saying 'Gay Street?'"
Aspiring trick-or-treater Nora Reed agreed.
"I was planning on going as a state Senator dressed as a luchador," she said. "Now what am I supposed to be? A princess? Like hell I am."
Proponents of the ban counter that people wearing masks must have something to hide.
"Who is Spider-man," asked newspaper publisher J. Jonah Jameson. "He's a criminal, that's who he is! A vigilante! A public menace! What's he even doing in my newspaper?"
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