Why We Need to See Your Face

by | March 5, 2015

Guest post by BillyBob

Imagine a society where everyone wore a black ski mask and black robes; you could pretend to be anyone. There would be no need for criminals to worry; no one could identify them as it’s their right to wear a ski mask and not be required to show their face.



Click on sketch to enlarge.


A free society where people are not restricted in their movement requires that its members can be identified. If the members of a society are not required to show their faces, how would the government and legal system be able to function? Wait there could be an upside to this: suppose you lose your driver’s licence for a DUI: just borrow your friend’s licence and you’re back on the road. Your picture is the same as your friend’s, a generic masked individual, so anonymity has its advantages!

Is this a realistic concern? Only a small portion of the population wants this right. If one member of a society has the right to wear a mask, then in a democratic society that is subject to a bill of rights all people in the society have that right. Church of the Holy Hockey Mask anyone. Hockey is a religion, correct?

5 thoughts on “Why We Need to See Your Face

  1. Indi

    The arguments in this post are *terrible*. It is the same fundamental logic behind the really terrible idea that “if you have nothing to hide, you shouldn’t need privacy”.

    This claim that a free society requires you to show your face is complete gibberish. In fact, it’s not only wrong, it’s fractally wrong; it is the *opposite* of true. The society that requires you to show your face is – in fact – a surveillance state. A *really* free society would allow people to walk around with ski masks on if they pleased. It harms no one. Sure it makes surveillance and policing more difficult, but that’s true for *many* things free people are allowed to do. We’re also not required to carry around identification cards.

    What next? Well, clothing allows one to hide weapons, right? That’s actually quite a common occurrence. So, by this same logic, we should force everyone to walk around naked.

    Even the example with the DUI is stupid. I look a lot like my brother – *especially* in my driver’s licence photo. If he ever lost his licence, he could very easily just grow a beard to match mine and pass himself off as me. So… what now? Should we outlaw facial hair? Require mandatory cosmetic surgery if people look too much alike?

    Just because something makes it easier to break the law doesn’t mean it should be banned. I think niqabs are as stupid as just about anyone who doesn’t wear them, but until and unless someone can come up with RATIONAL REASONS for why they should be banned, singling them out for stupid reasons is straight-up bigotry.

    You seriously want to stop crime? Well here’s something that will be a thousand times more effective than banning burqas: let the government monitor everyone’s internet usage, so they can spot people checking out jihadi stuff early on? No? Don’t like that? Kinda sucks when it’s *you* being forced to give up your freedom for security doesn’t it? Much easier to take *other* people’s freedoms away, isn’t it?

    Living in a free society is hard. There are many ways we could make it “easier” by giving up this or that freedom in exchange for a little more security. But don’t be that moron with their head in their ass: you are *NOT* becoming more free by giving up freedoms in exchange for security. You are becoming *LESS* free. If you accept that exchange, fine, but if you’re trying to argue that giving up freedom… or taking away freedom from someone else who is harming no-one… makes you more free, you’re an idiot, plain and simple. Then again, that’s exactly the kind of voter Harper likes to appeal to.

    Don’t be so quick to take away other people’s precious freedoms until you’re ready to give up a freedom you hold precious, too.

    1. billybob

      There is fantasy and reality.

      Fantasy is that a society could function if the members of that society could not be identified. Do we need laws? How would we apply them if people were anonymous?

      Reality is that without the ability to identify individuals a government would be unable to hold people accountable for their actions. The irony is that the
      freedom and security you have depends on a government that has the ability to find and punish criminals.

      You sound like a religious fundamentalist, avoiding reality for your beliefs. Life is full of compromises and to form a stable society there are real functional requirements.

      Try reading Steven Pinkers book “The Better Angels of Our Nature” which details the development of the Levaithan (government) and how our society is only possible because it exists.

      Your mention of Steven Harper is a bit of a “Hitler” ploy. I am a bit left of the NDP but I still understand that the rule of law would be irrelevant if you cannot identify individuals.

      It is important to minimize government control of
      our freedoms. A balance must be struck between the information a government needs to remain functional and personal freedoms.

      Why do drivers licences exist? Damn those information
      Nazis, I should not have to get a licence to drive a car!

    2. wow

      Privacy is not the same as anonymity. You can still have privacy without being anonymous.

      How could you justly enforce any law without being able to accurately identify a person? The “innocent until proven guilty” philosophy that our justice system is based on requires the identification of the accused in order to convict.


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