Surveillance Nation: Austin Library Won't Let You Wear Baseball Caps Because Cameras Can't ID You

from the freedom-to-wear-caps dept

JJ sends over the latest news of our surveillance society gone nutty. It seems that the Austin Public Library in Texas has officially decided to ban baseball caps, sunglasses and hoodies. What does that have to do with surveillance? The Austin American-Statesman has the word:

The library came up with the rule so that customers can’t hide their faces, said Toni Grasso, the libraries’ administrative manager in the office of programs and partnerships.

“We have security cameras in place, so like banks and courthouses, we’re asking people to remove sunglasses and anything that hides the face, for the security of staff and customers,” Grasso said.

As someone who (really, not kidding) frequently goes to my local library wearing all three of these “banned” items, I’m hoping this sort of thing doesn’t become a trend.

austinlibrary

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Comments on “Surveillance Nation: Austin Library Won't Let You Wear Baseball Caps Because Cameras Can't ID You”

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144 Comments
Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Eye surgery

Actually, I did get lasik about 4 years back and have always opted (before and after) to wear sunglasses in most situations where it is bright enough for most people. I have abnormally large pupils that are always slightly more dilated than most people’s would be in any given scenario. For that reason I opt to wear my sunglasses in any Meijer / WalMart / other way too bright store. It puts my eyes under less stress. Without the sunglasses my eyes always remain more closed than other people’s but this does not feel as natural as then it almost feels like I am trying to fall asleep or am tired. True fact.
Fun side effect: I adjust to seeing things in the dark a lot quicker than most people.
Odd thing I do: I will wear sunglasses, at night, while driving. I can still see everything in front of me from my headlights, but it helps dim other driver’s headlights which always feel like they are blinding me.

Michael says:

Re: Re: Eye surgery

people who have fair skin and need to hide their bald heads from the sun… people who happen to LIKE hoodies,( they are quite popular among non-gangbangers) The CEO of facebook… people who’s glasses tint automatically in the light (like mine do) You trying to lump people who were hoodies, hats and glasses into some criminal conspiracy is kind of crazy don’t you think?

PolyPusher (profile) says:

Re: Re: Eye surgery

Gang members and Thugs? really? Talk about being disconnected from modern society. One of the wealthiest CEO’s in the world wears a hoodie every day… I happen to wear them quite a bit as well, around the house, going down the street to the store. Often times I even have sunglasses on when it’s overcast. The reason being is I am usually thinking about something and don’t want to be distracted. Assuming that clothing choice determines behavior is absurdly narrow minded…

Bart says:

Hmmm, hasn’t it always been incredibly rude to wear a hat indoors. Has this changed? I have no issues with people requiring hats and hoods to be removed on their premises, it just seems a pity that people are so ignorant that they have to be told, seems like a bit of a parental fail.
As for people who want to wear sunglasses indoors in a library?
Does anyone seriously think that this is some kind of sane desire.
I am sure if people have some legitimate reason to need to not see anything, the library can be accomodating.

Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Hmmm, hasn’t it always been incredibly rude to wear a hat indoors.

I know, right? Just the other day I saw a kid use the fork from the wrong side of his plate! What are parents teaching their children today? Society would collapse if it weren’t for the intricate maze of these and other nonsensical faux pas that we all spend our otherwise potentially productive time attempting to navigate!

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Hats

> hasn’t it always been incredibly rude to wear
> a hat indoors

“Incredibly rude”? Ummm… no. Spitting on someone would be incredibly rude. Calling them a whore– incredibly rude. Walking into a building with a hat on? Why would that be rude at all? And to whom would this hat-wearing rudeness be directed? Just everyone in general? Are you offended by the presence of headwear on other people? And if so, why would you only be offended by it when inside a building?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Hats

“Spitting on someone would be incredibly rude”
And also assault.

“Calling them a whore– incredibly rude”
and potentially slanderous.

“Walking into a building with a hat on?”
Nope, not taking it off once your in.
I suspect it has always been about concealment, it is suspicious and can seem threatening and it is not generally considered good manners to give that impression.

“And if so, why would you only be offended by it when inside a building?”

Perhaps because it has a purpose outside the building?

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Hats

> > Spitting on someone would be incredibly rude

> And also assault.

So?

> > Calling them a whore– incredibly rude

> and potentially slanderous.

So?

> it is suspicious and can seem threatening

If you feel threatened by the sight of someone in a baseball cap, then the problem lies with you and your extreme hypersensitivity. My freedom certainly should not be restricted based on your irrational emotional issues.

> Perhaps because it has a purpose outside the building?

Hats have purposes inside buildings, too. Just apparently not ones you personally agree with.

What if I have to wear a hat for religious reasons?

What if I’m undergoing chemo and losing my hair or going bald naturally and don’t particularly want to appear in public in such an unattractive state?

I could go on… the point being just because you don’t personally endorse a purpose doesn’t mean a purpose does not exist or that it’s not legitimate.

It’s not the proper function of government to impose restrictions on the liberty of the citizenry in order to enforce some arbitrary notion of manners or “rudeness”.

Bartimaeus says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Hats

There are always going to be people who would be justified in wearing these items and people have mentioned some.

But if most people followed simple manners there would be no problem in the few people who meet the criteria that have been mentioned being catered for.

Unfortunately this is not the case, the current clothing trend is ubiquitous and does cause problems for normal human behaviour in confined quarters, concealment always causes unease in other people.
It is a simple fact of human nature.

If someone is concealing themselves, others don’t trust them, if others don’t trust them the untrusted ones feel less obliged to hold to social mores as the situation escalates people are more and more uncomfortable and what should be a relaxed welcoming place becomes a stressed tense one. Not really the atmosphere anyone would want in a library.

Unfortunately we went through a period where hats dropped out of fashion completely for a while and so the associated manners seem to have been forgotten. But they weren’t just quaint habits, there were social and psychological reasons for them even before people knew the word psychological.

As for religion, you will note that for most people in most religions where the religion required head covering, the head covering usually offers no concealment at all.
Thinking of Jews and Muslims in particular, but Sikh turbans also cause no concealment of the eyes or face.

Obviously there is a difference for some Muslim women.
But then most people’s opinion of the societies that require the total concealment of women as opposed to wearing scarves or shaylah which do leave the face clear, rightly or wrongly are that such complete concealment is both demeaning to the women and intended to isolate the women from most of the activities open to men.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Hats

> But if most people followed simple manners

Your argument assumes that removing a hat indoors is “simple manners” in the first place. Since manners are by definition defined as what any culture finds socially acceptable at a given moment in time, they tend to change. As you yourself noted, the prohibition on the indoor wearing of hats died off long ago. Therefore, it is currently not a requirement of “simple manners” to remove headwear indoors.

Further, this is Texas we’re talking about, which has its own culture and norms regarding hats and the wearing of them indoors. In Texas, it has been culturally acceptable to do so for a hundred years or more.

> If someone is concealing themselves, others don’t trust them

I’ve never seen anyone manage to conceal themselves with a baseball cap.

> what should be a relaxed welcoming place becomes a stressed tense one

Really? Someone wearing a UT Longhorns cap in an Austin library is going to result in a building full of stressed and tense people? That’s really the argument you’re making here?

I’ve never seen anyone normal become freaked out over someone wearing a ballcap. Quite the opposite, actually. Ballcaps usually conjure images and memories of sunny days at the ballpark, enjoying good times with friends and family.

Anyone who becomes stressed or tense because another person walks into the room with a Yankees cap on is the one with the problem (unless they’re a Red Sox fan, which is understandable) and everyone else shouldn’t be held hostage to such psychoses.

> you will note that for most people in most religions where
> the religion required head covering, the head covering usually
> offers no concealment at all

I don’t know to what you’re referring, but the Muslim women in the area where I live not only cover their heads, but as a general practice their faces as well. Even the men’s keffiyeh covers as much of the face as a baseball cap does:

http://www.toursaudiarabia.com/fahd/funeral.jpg

Since a baseball cap doesn’t cover the eyes or face, either, that’s obviously not the standard.

DJ (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Hats

“It’s not the proper function of government to impose restrictions on the liberty of the citizenry in order to enforce some arbitrary notion of manners or “rudeness”.”

The single most insightful thing I’ve EVER read on this site. Bravo!
Another way to say that is that the role of government is to protect equal rights, not provide equal things.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Do you know what is A LOT more effective than putting up a sign saying “DO NOT WEAR HATS OR I’LL CHOP YOUR HEAD OFF”?

Go up to the “offender” and say “Please sir, could you remove your hat? It is terribly rude to wear them indoors and I feel offended.”. You know, other people will feel more inclined to be polite if you are polite yourself. Don’t forget to smile and say thank you (even if they don’t take it off).

This world needs more nice people, not more threatening signs.

Bartimaeus says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Do you know what is A LOT more effective than putting up a sign saying “DO NOT WEAR HATS OR I’LL CHOP YOUR HEAD OFF”

Except of course the sign does not say that.

I know where you are coming from though, but I actually believe that people prefer to know the rules then to be approached and informed that they are breaking them, however politely, it is much more embarassing and most people don’t enjoy that experience.

As I said before, it would actually be much better, if people just understood as people used to understand when everyone wore hats all the time, that indoors you take them off.

DJ (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Bart, y apparently have been completely absent from society for the past twenty or so years. As Michael said, it USED to be incredibly rude. Nowadays, it’s quite common to see people wearing hats indoors. So yes, it’s changed. If you are a private business owner, you have to right to refuse customers who do not live up to your personal dress codes. A public library, however, is, by definition, NOT privately owned.
As for sunglasses indoors, you have apparently NEVER worn sunglasses, because you think that they completely blind you (this is NOT what makes blind people blind).

Rose M. Welch (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It’s perfectly sane for people with a light sensitivity to wear sunglasses in a library.

There are hundreds of medications that can cause light sensitivity.

Also, people who suffer from migraines, which is an awful lot of people.

Remember, there must be people wearing sunglasses, or there wouldn’t be any reason to add it to the ‘ban’ list.

Bart says:

Re: Re:

” but a public library is public property, and should be a staunch defender of freedom of expression, even if that expression takes the form of wearing sunglasses or hats indoors.”

Or complete nudity, or nudity but with full bodypaint.
Or reading out loud from the book, newspaper or webpage you are reading from.
Performing mime or
street, ballet or modern dance.

Band practice.

All freedom of expression, some perhaps less appropriate than others.

Simple manners, when you are indoors, you take off hats and hoods, its nothing complicated or onerous and is in no way a breach of your rights.

Bart says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“I don’t think we’ve actually objectively established that people should have been brought up to take off their headwear just because they walk underneath a ceiling.”

Well I am not sure it is possible for your me to objectively establish anything in relation to wearing unnecessary and concealing items in an enclosed shared public space, but I have the reasons why I believe it was customary to do so and I have made some suggestions elsewhere in the thread about possible psychological and sociological reasons for them. They seem valid and reasonable to me.

If we still disagree, then we just disagree and there isn’t really anything more to be said.

DJ (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“I don’t think we’ve actually objectively established that people should have been brought up to take off their headwear just because they walk underneath a ceiling.”

Ummm, actually, you should alter that to read:

“We don’t objectively establishe that people should have been brought up to take off their headwear just because they walk underneath a ceiling {ANYMORE}”

And to clarify, while not removing your hat indoors used to be considered bad manners — and therefore rude — it was never considered “offensive”; much the same as how it is still considered rude to cuss around kids.

Bart says:

Re: Re:

“Why does the library need this kind of security? There’s absolutely nothing to steal from it, you can borrow everything for free!”

Because what? shoplifting is the only crime you can think of?

Library users don’t have wallets or purses?
A nice quiet place not associated with crime isn’t a great place to deal drugs or engage in other illegal trades?
There is no possibility of attacks either just physical or sexual on individuals?

“Oh yes officer I am sure I can identify him, he had a hoody a baseball cap and shades.

I can understand teenagers not knowing what impression their choice of concealing clothing may give to other people until someone points it out.
I find it harder to understand people who perhaps never thought about it before, being told, and whether thinking about it or not somehow feel it is some kind of terrible imposition on them to realise that there are some societal norms that are there to better allow people to gather in public without fear or intimidation, otherwise known as manners.

You get the corollary when you go somewhere where you are clearly not trusted. Like when you have to speak through a grille to people in bullet proof glass booths.
When you get that kind of situation other than one in which a higher level of security is expected, ie a high school cafeteria rather than a bank, then people tend to behave more aggressively and with less of a concern for societal norms because they are not being trusted.

It is a two way street, a reason why for example cops should not wear shades when talking to you, unless it is too bright to do so and certainly not wearing a mask and of course ideally not have their gun, baton whatever out and ready to use on you unless the situation actually warrants it.
People react badly, because intentions are hidden or normal trust is withheld.

Bartimaeus says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

You keep trying to make this something personal.
It isn’t.

This is simply about human behaviour and human reactions.
We are all strongly individualistic followed by tribalistic and this being so makes public intercourse one of painfully arrived at compliance with wider mores, and while it’s sexist it more particularly applies to males.

A big red flag to any individual human is concealment.
Whether it is someone who is sneaking around rather than walking around, whether it someone concealing their features rather than being open and accessible.

Obviously abiding by mores does not make you an angel and not abiding by them does not make you a villain.
But if someone appears to be concealing something then another human does not trust them, will be nervous of them.
Survival has often depended on being aware of threats and what you cannot be certain about can induce more fear than threats you can actually see and quantify.

We are all aware that you cannot judge a book by its cover, but at least seeing the cover can give us some guidance, being able to look further into it helps more.

We are not talking about strip searching here or clothes being banned, we are talking about taking concealing items off in particular circumstances where they have no valid purpose and can create perfectly valid concerns.

Bartimaeus says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“Like how humans are naturally fearful of anything different. Like people of darker skin. It’s one thing to follow human nature, it’s another thing entirely to deny human nature to live in reality.”

I take your point.
But the difference here is not that its a different style of clothing it’s that it’s concealment.
Like I’ve mentioned a few times, when hats were worn by everyone, the accepted manners of the time were that they were removed when indoors and it was considered rude to do otherwise.
This particular more was not about difference then as everyone wore hats, caps etc, and everyone accepted that it was simply good manners to remove them.
I doubt many people thought then about the whys of it, they were simply taught to do so.

I could well be wrong, I am no sociologist or anthropologist but I find the idea that what was really behind it was removing concealment as part of the social contract compelling.
But I will readily agree I have waffled on far too much on this topic and so will finally stop.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

I’m going to point out one more thing about your hat example. In the past it was taboo for a man to not take off his hat indoors, but a few decades before that, it was taboo for a man to take off his hat if he was bald. Taboos change and manners change. Today, it’s not taboo to wear a hat indoors.

DJ (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

This string of arguments has departed from the issue.

1)There are people out there who are offended by something that you might do, and they have their reasons; get over it!

2)There are people out there who are doing things that you find offensive, and they have their reasons; get over it!

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution tells Congress that there can be no law about this issue at all; not that whatever law exists cannot favor one side or the other, but that THERE CANNOT EVEN BE A LAW ABOUT IT!

DJ (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

” when hats were worn by everyone, the accepted manners of the time were that they were removed when indoors”

I feel I must also point out, that at that time it was considered equally rude to go outside WITHOUT a hat.

Aside, these are still practiced by today’s military. You don’t go outside “uncovered”, and you remove your “cover” when going inside. If your particular faith, creed, etc, requires a specific headdress at all times, it must be small enough to not be seen when “covered”, such as a Yamilke.

Rose M. Welch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

But the difference here is not that its a different style of clothing it’s that it’s concealment.

All clothing is concealment.

I doubt many people thought then about the whys of it, they were simply taught to do so.

Yes, let’s do go back to a rule that no one actually thought about, and take away religious freedom and physically hurt people because a few people think that headgear is scary.

I find the idea that what was really behind it was removing concealment as part of the social contract compelling.

There is no social contract.

But I will readily agree I have waffled on far too much on this topic and so will finally stop.

You mean you admit that you’re wrong, and that there’s no good reason to restrict someone’s choice of headgear in a public place, and many good reasons not to restrict someone’s choice of headgear?

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

> we are talking about taking concealing items
> off in particular circumstances where they have
> no valid purpose

You keep saying they have no valid purpose as if that’s an established fact. I and others here have given you various examples of perfectly valid purposes.

Also, a baseball cap is hardly a concealing item, unless you feel threatened by some middle-aged guy concealing his bald spot. And if you do, I will reiterate for the third time, the problem is *yours* and others should not have to bend their behavior or have their freedoms restricted because of your neuroses.

Additionally, you keep going back to this argument about these norms being necessary for people to gather in groups without being nervous. Well, if that’s really the basis for all this, then the norms and “manners” would then logically apply everywhere crowds gather, not just indoors. Since they don’t, your entire premise seems questionable.

DJ (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Which makes the “well dressed guy” far more dangerous, because no one would be suspicious of him.
And if you were somehow injured, you would be inclined to dismiss the “menacing looking guy” when he told you he was a doctor.
While I disagree with Bart’s assessment of today’s society, each of us has an instinct about people we see out in public. It’s commonly known as “first impression”. Whether right or wrong, every one of us instantly assesses each and every person we encounter.
The moral: dress and act the way you want people to see you.
This is an unwritten offshoot of “The Golden Rule”: treat others as you would have them treat you.

weneedhelp (profile) says:

Its ok

Its ok, sheeps will just comply. Fingerprinted for a drivers license, COMPLY. Having your genitals exposed and saved god knows where just to be able to fly, COMPLY. Allowing every electronic communication to be harvested and stored, COMPLY. Going to a peaceful rally, then being put on a no fly list for it, COMPLY.

You must comply, resistance is futile.

Meh, Americans are ball-less, pu**ies. Yeah, I said it.

DJ (profile) says:

Re: you really

Along with the current California laws allowing authorities to track your vehicle movements, AND your cell phone location WITHOUT A WARRANT.

And all of you thought Bush was bad for unwarranted phone call taps????!!!!!!!
Oh yeah and let’s all just forget about THIS one:
http://dailycensored.com/2010/06/30/assassination-hit-list-in-america/

“Bush wire-taps were horrible, but MURDERING U.S. citizens is ok. BAAAA. BAAA.”

Kaega (profile) says:

This already happens where I live

In the province of Ontario Canada, I have been refused service / asked to leave from retail and convenience stores for having my hoodie on. Mainly Staples Business Depot, Mac’s Milk, and the odd mall. All of them claimed that me wearing a hoodie was a “security risk”.

Once when I was being harassed by the clerk at Mac’s Milk to take off my hoodie, I saw a kid walk out the front door with two Redbulls in each hand. I was too angry to bother to point it out.

Rose M. Welch (profile) says:

What about...

…those glasses that automatically go dark in bright places? Are people with poor vision going to have to remove their glasses??? And if some people can wear dark glasses, why can’t people who get migraines, and people whom are otherwise light-sensitive?

And at that point, how do you know who has a medical condition? Are we going to start requiring library patrons to bring in doctor’s note for any ailments?

Seriously, this is stupid.

Anonymous Coward says:

The commenters here act like this is some sort of First Amendment issue, or that the library is trying to force an unnecessary rule on the public just because they like telling people what to do. In fact, libraries have a long history of standing up for patron privacy and civil rights. But don’t let the facts get in your way.

There is no big government conspiracy at work here. If anything, it’s the opposite – the “small government” folks have kept government so small that it can’t afford to hire enough security guards. It also has nothing to do with enforcing an outdated code of “manners” on the public.

It’s quite simple really:

1. Libraries today tend to attract large numbers of homeless people. Many of the homeless have criminal backgrounds, problems with substance addition, mental instability, or often, a combination of all of the above. If you haven’t been in a library recently, you might not know that libraries frequently have security problems nowadays. Many commenters here seem to have a 1950’s, Mayberry RFD view of libraries. That’s been gone for awhile.

2. The funding for libraries is small, and is usually the first to get cut in an economic downturn. Guess what – hiring security guards is expensive! And most police departments lack the manpower to have a patrolman stationed at every library. So many libraries have tried to improve security by adding surveillance cameras.

If the registered sex offender masturbating on the public computers walks out before the police arrive after the librarian calls 911, then at least they can get a shot of him on the security camera. Same for the crazy person threatening another patron.

But guess what – if they are wearing a hat and a pair of sunglasses, they can be hard to identify on camera, harder to warn other staff members about, and harder to catch the next time they come back to the library.

I bet the people here complaining about their civil rights being violated are also the loudest to complain if anybody tries to raise taxes to support the library. And also loudest to complain about all those homeless bums who should just go get jobs, without doing anything to improve the situation.

Rose M. Welch (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You’re full of crap.

The commenters here act like this is some sort of First Amendment issue…

That’s because this is a First Amendment issue.

In fact, libraries have a long history of standing up for patron privacy and civil rights.

In specific areas related to their specific profession, yes. But don’t let that fact get into your way.

Many commenters here seem to have a 1950’s, Mayberry RFD view of libraries. That’s been gone for awhile.

I’ve spend alot of time in a variety of libraries in a variety of cities over the last 20 years. I understand libraries.

Libraries today tend to attract large numbers of homeless people. Many of the homeless have criminal backgrounds, problems with substance addition, mental instability, or often, a combination of all of the above. …If the registered sex offender masturbating on the public computers walks out before the police arrive after the librarian calls 911, then at least they can get a shot of him on the security camera. Same for the crazy person threatening another patron.

Let me tell you, public masturbation is uncommon, hit-and-run fistfights amongst the shelves are even more uncommon, and homeless, mentally unstable people usually don’t wear sunglasses in Austin. You’re stretching like Armstrong there, buddy.

The funding for libraries is small, and is usually the first to get cut in an economic downturn.

Funding for libraries is only small in some areas. The tax isn’t the same amount everywhere. Local communities can and do vote up taxes for libraries. Name ten libraries, in different cities, that previously had meat surveillance and have cut to tech because their tax funding was lowered.

Guess what – hiring security guards is expensive! And most police departments lack the manpower to have a patrolman stationed at every library.

If libraries were a mecca of crime, then the city needs to station an officer there, like they did in the inner-city recreation centers of my youth. Libraries are not very crime-ridden, hence the lack of priority that they receive from the police.

I bet the people here complaining about their civil rights being violated are also the loudest to complain if anybody tries to raise taxes to support the library. And also loudest to complain about all those homeless bums who should just go get jobs, without doing anything to improve the situation.

Wow, nice use of baseless insults to try and make it seem like everyone who disagrees with you is a puppy-kicker.

Vincent Clement says:

Re: Re:

If a library is attracting “large numbers of homeless people” why not station a police officer for a week or two as a deterrent? Further, if the homeless person isn’t bothering anyone or doing anything illegal, on what grounds can a public library kick them out?

I’ve been to my local library recently. Hardly see any homeless people.

Plenty of blind people wear sunglasses or darkened glasses. And plenty of blind people go to the library. Are you going to make them take off their glasses? Have fun with that ADA lawsuit.

Lynn says:

Here is a fragment of an article from Mills of the Gods called “The Library at Urinetown” outlining an incident at the library! If you think this is an isolated incident try spending more than 2 hours at any of your East Austin Branches.

“I am informed that an obnoxious odor was perceived in the 200 section (Dewy Decimal System) at our local downtown library last week. Investigation by the Library cops turned up the fact that hundreds of books, costing thousands of dollars of the citizen’s money, had been urinated on.
Now this was no “accident” as my first grade teacher Mrs Harrison once called a suspicious yellow puddle next to the desk of one of my classmates. No, the range and height of the of the spray left no doubt that this was done intentionally, probably by a single urinator. Whether all of this amounted to a political statement, a literary comment, or the work of a mad man, no one was sure. although there were suspicions.

As the spoiled books were carted off and the shelves disinfected, talk turned to one particular suspect. And, as if by magic, the librarians looked up and saw that very person boldly advancing thorough the door, haggared and wild eyed. “Yes” he screamed, “it was me!” “and I’m back”. With this, the lone peeer (peaer?) turned and ran out onto the streets of Austin, only lightly pursued by the the rather disolute clean up squad. The perpetrator of his outrage has been “banned” from the library, a slap on the wrist (or penis) leaving him free to urinate in other public places as well as private yards here in Austin.”

james derry says:

so it happened to me...

i entered the austin public library bookstore yesterday with my 10-year-old while holding my infant son. once inside, an elderly woman came up to me and asked me to either remove my ball cap, or turn the bill around to the back. i asked why. she said it’s city ordinance. i asked, why would the city care if i wear my ball cap indoors? she said, the bill obstructs my face from their security cameras. welcome to surveillance nation

alan (profile) says:

Re: so it happened to me...

Ditto.
Ironic thing is that I had just been wearing my baseball cap at my bank, where I had to wait in line about 10 minutes. Bank employees apologized to us for having to wait so long, but no bank employee asked me to remove my baseball cap. (Years ago the same bank was in an uproar because I took two photos in it while with my kids. I was documenting a day out with my kids; I stopped taking photos as soon as they asked me to.)

So after waiting in line and being at the bank counter with my baseball cap on, I go to the library, barely noticed some type-written paper stuck to the inside door saying something about hoodies and sunglasses (neither of which I generally wear)…I didn’t give the sign much attention because I never dreamt that what it might have been saying was that I could not wear my baseball cap in the library.

It did.

A nice librarian came over while I was working on the computer – I had been there already half an hour – and said “we have a rule in this library that if you want to wear a baseball cap you have to wear it backwards”). Connecting her request to the type-written sign I had barely noticed, I complied immediately.

But then en minutes before the library closed I walked around a bit (I went to the men’s room and then left, as the library was closing), anyway I saw two or three other guys with baseball caps on backwards. None of them looked like suspicious characters to me. Anyway, it was later, after I left the library (which I already have an unspoken “beef” with because they have special up-close reserved parking spots for hybrid cars, which I think discriminates based on wealth), I later thought about the baseball cap incident and said, “This has got to be a violation of freedom of speech.” And the idea may not have come into my mind so forcefully had I not been volunteering to teach a U.S. Citizenship class this semester.

Anyway, several states, and also D.C., have anti-mask laws, but they differ in wording and the wearer’s intentions. I haven’t checked into municipal laws.

This is definitely a hat, er, hot issue, especially with the movement of some nations to ban face coverings.

But to me, a baseball cap only “OBSCURES” one’s face when one is looking down, say when one is reading a book!

If you are near Austin and think this law violates first amendment rights, leave a comment, or contact me.

lolipop (profile) says:

Why this rule?

1. Austin’s branch libraries tend to be small cubes with few if any places to be surreptitiously mischievous. Why the cap/sunglasses/hoodie rule?

2. The central library downtown is almost a police substation already and was recently renovated with improved surveillance photography. Why the rule?

3. The wealthy residents downtown will be disdainful of abridgments to their personal freedom. Why the rule?

4. The rule was voted on by the Austin City Council; but to find the info about the rule and the names of those who voted in favor of it is difficult. Why the rule?

5. The terseness of the logo sign (don’t library users read sentences?) omits several instances for exceptions, cited above by commenters (cancer, blind, glasses, Islamic dress…), and the turning the baseball cap backward is just plain silly. Why the rule?

6. If the rule is unconstitutional, then it ought to be litigated. Why the rule?

7. Who voted in the rule? Not the people. Why the rule?

lolipop (profile) says:

"For the Safety of Our Customers and Staff"-- We keep the bookshelves and ceiling from falling on you

I lock my door when going to sleep for safety and pay attention to the road when driving for my own and others’ safety; but I wear my hat, sunglasses, and hoodie because of the weather.

Were someone to wear a hat, sunglasses, or hoodie to check-out library materials, the library, its customers, and its staff would be no more nor no less safe than wearing them to shop at the supermarket or Walmart, both of which have hundreds (thousands?) more customers than the library and have maintained a balance of order and freedom.

alan (profile) says:

"For the Safety of Our Customers and Staff"-- We keep the bookshelves and ceiling from falling on you

I agree. The rule is stupid. Perhaps passed in a panic over the isolated incident at the Univ of Texas PLC… in which case an a visibly *armed* shooter ran into the library… wearing a black outfit and ski mask along with the automatic weapon. So I think the Austin city libraries should ave a sign banning weapons. 🙂 And I could go for one that bans ski masks that completely cover the face.

But baseball caps? Crazy. It’s unamerican in many ways to ban baseball caps from a library. Thank goodness I was out of town recently and free to wear my baseball cap in multiple libraries… and not be treated like a criminal.

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