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Traditionally moral scolds have been characterized as creatures of the right, but today all the tsk-tsking arises from the fever swamps of progressive purity. The next victim of these pinched-face church(less) ladies is Halloween.
The College Fix (hat tip to John J. Miller) notes a series of advisories and admonishments being distributed to students around the country. They also reprint a letter issued by a Residence Life coordinator at the University of Wisconsin-Madison:
Halloween: Questions to Ask Yourself before Donning a Costume
WEARING A FUNNY COSTUME?
Ask yourself: Is the humor based on “making fun” of real people, real human traits or cultures? Though intended to be funny, the “Mental Patient” costume by Disguise was considered demeaning, dehumanizing, and humiliating to individuals struggling with a mental illness and their families. Complete with a “Hannibal” type mask and a straightjacket, the costume reinforced stereotypes and fears about persons with mental illness.
WEARING A SCARY COSTUME?
Ask yourself: Is the “fear factor” based on real forms of violence or grotesque depictions of human traits? “This scary stud can empty out a full house just by walking through the door,” touts the tag line for Fright Catalog’s “Vato Loco” mask. The bandana clad, tattooed, brown-skinned vinyl creation makes light of gang violence, which takes a serious toll on families and neighborhoods across the country. The costume also sends the message that Latinos are violent.
WEARING A HISTORICAL COSTUME?
Ask yourself: If the costume is meant to be historical, does it further misinformation or historical and cultural inaccuracies? The “Indian” get-up prevails each year as culture-turned-costume. But did you know few Native Americans wore buckskin and headbands and even fewer wore them together? Did you know “war paint” and feathers carry religious meaning and were never worn by Native American children?
WEARING A “BEAUTIFUL” COSTUME?
Ask yourself: If the costume is meant to be beautiful, are these characteristics drawn from commercial references, such as movie characters? Too often, beautiful at Halloween means white, blonde, princess masks. What statement does your Halloween costume make about what constitutes beauty — and about who is beautiful and who isn’t?
And is that dancing I see over there? Knock it off before you offend the wheelchair-bound! (Except for that Greg Abbott fellow. He’s a Republican so that doesn’t count.)
If Hollywood accurately updated the film Footloose for our modern era, John Lithgow’s priest would be replaced with a thick-ankled diversity officer carrying a 1,000-page student conduct code on his/her iPad. It’s Halloween; lighten up already!