07/03/2006 01:37 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Danger Zone

Ten-year-old Lydia Smith and her mother were taking a lunch break while shopping for new church clothes at the Battlefield Mall in Springfield, MO, when Lydia was approached by a security guard who asked her to remove the bandanna she was wearing. He handed a copy of the Battlefield Mall Code to her mom. Among a list of 17 possible offenses, Lydia had violated the one that reads: "Failing to be fully clothed or wearing apparel which is likely to provide a disturbance or embroil other groups or the general public in open conflict." Her threatening bandanna was, after all, decorated with flowers, smiley faces and peace signs.

Les Morris, a spokesperson for Simon Property Group -- which invokes similar rules at their 285 properties in 39 states and Puerto Rico -- explained that the mall's primary responsibility is to protect its customers, tenants and employers. Ironically, at least one retail store at the Battlefield Mall, namely J.C. Penney, sells the forbidden bandannas. Morris reasoned, "There are things we sell that it's okay to own them, but to use them in the mall setting is inappropriate." Sort of the opposite of those communities which allow possession of marijuana for personal use, yet criminalize its sale.