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.