Does McDonald’s allow fursuiting without asking them if you could go in with your suit? I have a cheap Walmart head and paw slippers and gloves and tail from 2 different Halloween stores. I really want to go to McDonalds with it and I don't want to ask them cause I want it to be a huge suprise.
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It's Sawina again. I recently went to a corner convienient store in my partial and forgot my head was on until I was already in the store. I quickly took off the head to avoid an incident, but when I returned 2 days later, which was today. I ran into the manager. I apologized for what I did, but she told me if she was working at that time she would have called the cops and even shot me. Was my small mistake really worth the death threat I recieved today?
Thanks in advance, Sawina.
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Dear Rainbowpaws and Sawina,
Because your letters are related, Papabear decided to combine them into one column. It is an important subject to address here: the wearing of fursuit heads in public.
Since the terrorist attacks of 2001, concealing one’s identity in public places has come under greater suspicion by authorities who are concerned about people trying to attack American citizens. Actually, antimask ordinances likely date long before then for reasons such as problems with the KKK, bank robbers, etc. But before we get into that, let’s just talk about going into private businesses, such as a fast-food joint or convenience store.
As you might imagine, such places can be and have been robbed by masked criminals. Masks can be anything from stockings and ski masks to Halloween masks easily bought at party stores. You might see, then, that if you go inside such a place wearing, say, a wolf or lion head, this could make the person behind the cash register understandably very nervous as to what you are up to.
So, my immediate advice is don’t do this. If you are going to a store (or bank!) and want to express your furriness, limit yourself to things like paws, ears, and/or tails. Never conceal your face behind a mask in these situations.
That said, what are the legal implications here? This can be extremely complicated because laws vary from state to state, country to country. Also, there have been federal cases that have revolved around the wearing of identity-concealing masks.
France is an example of a country with a very strong, anti-mask law that was passed in 2010 and has been used to jail people for wearing balaclavas. Predictably, this has inspired protests by the Muslim community.
The U.S. Constitution does protect you when it comes to self-expression and protest, however. For example, during the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, the state tried to jail protestors for concealing their faces with scarves, but the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the wearing of masks during protests as a form of free speech. There have been other efforts to make masks illegal to wear at protests on public property or private property when the owner has not given permission for a protest.
Let’s look at the state level. There are eleven U.S. places with anti-mask laws, including California, Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Usually, when states have a law against masks it is stipulated that they are illegal when used during a crime and not for entertainment purposes such as during Halloween. There are other obvious exceptions, such as if you are wearing a respirator or surgical mask for health reasons.
In your cases, we’re dealing with Massachusetts and California law. Section 185 of the California Penal Code states: “It shall be unlawful for any person to wear any mask, false whiskers, or any personal disguise (whether complete or partial) for the purpose of: One--Evading or escaping discovery, recognition, or identification in the commission of any public offense. Two--Concealment, flight, or escape, when charged with, arrested for, or convicted of, any public offense. Any person violating any of the provisions of this section shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor.”
Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 268, Section 34 states: “Whoever disguises himself with intent to obstruct the due execution of the law, or to intimidate, hinder or interrupt an officer or other person in the lawful performance of his duty, or in the exercise of his rights under the constitution or laws of the commonwealth, whether such intent is effected or not, shall be punished by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than one year and may if imprisoned also be bound to good behavior for one year after the expiration of such imprisonment.”
(For a list of other state laws, see http://www.anapsid.org/cnd/mcs/maskcodes.html.)
In both your cases, you are not violating the law, but we shouldn’t assume that store employees are going to be fully aware of the law, so they could call the police on you or toss you out of the store (many stores, after all, do have signs where they say they can refuse service to anyone they wish.)
Bottom line, again, is I would not wear a fursuit head in these cases. While the law is on your side, save it for places where wearing a fursuit is expected (cons and meets) or at events where those running the event are fully aware you will be in suit.
Thanks for your terrific questions!
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