The Lynching (in effigy) of Sarah Palin

I wanted to get my son a Halloween t-shirt this year. I wanted a cute one with some pumpkins, or some candy corn, or something equally sweet and benign. Instead all I found were skulls and bats and macabre scenes of death and gore that I just don’t want to see my four-year-old wearing (I also don’t understand why the commercials for Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights are permitted to be shown early enough in the day for my Son to see them. They are scary, even to me. Have these people no sense?). Just…ick.

Go ahead, roll your eyes at me. I don’t mind. I don’t think the macabre is funny, and the scariest Haunted House I will enter is the one at Disney World. I just don’t think being scared is fun. There’s many other ways to get that same adrenaline rush that are fun.

So perhaps I am not the one to think that a mannequin dressed to look like Sarah Palin being hung in effigy is funny. I wouldn’t think it funny no matter who was depicted.

Chad Michael Morisette, who put up the display, says that the effigy would be out of bounds at any other time of year, but it’s within the spirit of Halloween.


I don’t think it’s ever an appropriate time of year to hang someone in effigy. And I don’t think there’s a person breathing who doesn’t understand that the reaction would be far stronger, swifter and outraged if it was a likeness of Obama hanging from that roof. Would the homeowners not be met with angry mobs demanding the display be removed, demanding the homeowner be charged with a hate crime?

Well, let’s see. Asinine college students at George Fox University hung a cardboard cutout of Obama from a tree on the abundantly Republican campus, and it was immediately removed and absolutely decried as a hate crime. “What happened on campus this week is disheartening to American politics,” said John Archibald, chairman of the College Republicans. “Regardless of your politics, this act of hate cannot be tolerated.” And that’s a Republican talking.

Does Mr. Morisette not understand that America’s history of lynching did not make any Greatest American Trends list? Did he think it was okay since it was a white woman and not a black man, or did it never occur to him that depicting a lynching might spark some outrage at all?? Did he think she was fair game because Saturday Night Live does skits poking fun at her twice each week? Did he think this was the same thing? Heck, I’m surprised he didn’t set up a diorama of a concentration camp with McCain walking to the chambers. That wouldn’t have been offensive because McCain isn’t Jewish, right?

Are these acts of hate? What if the students’ display had also been a politically motivated Halloween decoration? Does it matter that one is a protest against a policy the pranksters see as unfair and the other is “satire”?

When did violence become funny?

My view is clear. Hanging a likeness of a real person? Not funny. Even if they are a political figure. Even if you don’t like them. Even if you do like them. No matter their color, gender or sexual orientation. Oh, and a concentration camp diorama is off limits, too.

I just don’t understand why we feel the need to vilify those with whom we disagree. And to take a child’s holiday, one that many of us are using to escape the constant noise and mud-slinging of the election process, and turn it into a political statement (Psst! Republican Party! Please, please tell me this rumor I’m hearing about you putting political pamphlets in the kids’ treat bags isn’t true. Please!) is just maddening.

I’m all for Halloween pranks. I’m all for political statements. I’m all for pushing the envelope. I’m all for free speech. But with the right of free speech comes responsibility. This is a self-serving, tasteless, irresponsible display that may get you on the Today Show, Mr. Morrisette, and has certainly gotten you your fifteen minutes of fame. Congratulations.

I’d rather get mine in the pages of Good Housekeeping.


4 Responses to “The Lynching (in effigy) of Sarah Palin”

  1. Ian H Says:

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion that is why are fathers, grandfathers, sons , and daughters continue to fight. There however the right to protest free speech that you do not agree is in the best interest or depicts violence and hate. I personally do not agree with Palin’s politics and will not vote for her, however that does not give me the right to depict the death of another human being in a violent manor. Can you imagine how you would feel if you woke up and saw a picture of your mother hanging from a rope? How must her children feel today? We, “Caucasians” found nothing wrong for many years of hanging of our slaves and rallied and celebrated around the trees. The hangings were real, wrong and senseless acts of murder. Had not one person taken that first step, voiced that first word that it was wrong it could still be common place today. I have emailed the West Hollywood Major and City Council office to request information on the law/ordinance surrounding protesting in West Hollywood. Once all the information and permit if needed is gathered, I to will exercise my right to free speech to disagree with this and organize a protest around it. If you would like information please email me at

  2. Howard Says:

    If a black dummy, Barack Obama, was lynched for Halloween,
    cries of racism would be dominating the mainstream media!!!

  3. copyeditorsdesk Says:

    Yah, I guess you’re not alone in the padded cell: I’ve never managed to appreciate the “fun” of morbid, frightening imagery, either, and especially never been able to figure out what about frightening little kids is either “fun” or “funny.” Must be something missing in my character.

    The Sarah Palin thing is a manifestation of the evil that has again crept across our land. Not that it hasn’t already been here, for heaven’s sake…we certainly do know that slavery and then lynchings of black folks and genocide of a certain Funny’s ancestors and queer-bashing and ever so much more also represented the same evil. But I guess maybe the point is…it’s b-a-a-a-a-a-a-c-k!

    The same cast of mind — evil, that is — is manifest when Palin fans holler to kill Obama and scream that Obama’s a terrorist. That it is fostered by would-be “leaders” makes it all the creepier. Hallowe’en? Who needs it? We have it every day.

  4. The BoBo Carnival of Politics - November 1, 2008 Edition | The BoBo Files Says:

    […] presents The Lynching (in effigy) of Sarah Palin posted at Are You Going To Be This Way The Rest of The Time I Know […]

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