Editorial: Appreciate, don’t appropriate

Scares can be fun but disrespect, not so much

There is probably no holiday that generates more controversy than Halloween.

Around the city, carved pumpkins and other scary decorations are filling windows and yards — in some cases, disturbingly realistic ones — and on Tuesday the streets will fill with zombies, ghosts, Frankensteins and wizards, along with Batmen and other superheroes of all shapes and sizes.

A little later in the evening, adult-sized versions will skulk through the streets on their way to parties and clubs (wait, that part is already happening).

For most of us, this is a time to engage in some fun, release our imaginations, and collect up enough candy to last us through till candy canes start getting delivered. It’s a time when normal rules are upended. Kids of all ages can become stars, heroes, wizards or bad guys. We can poke fun at our jobs, our bosses, our families or political figures.

Just imagine how many Donald Trumps are going to be around this Halloween. Forget about haunted houses, that’s really scary.

Most of us know something of the history of Halloween, it’s origin tracing back to Roman times, and farther back “pagan” festivals that were later adopted into Christianity. And while we may lament that the Halloweens of our youth were much more fun and less about the money, the truth is it was a commercial holiday back then, and probably always has been.

But Halloween has evolved and continues to do so. While there are stories of some authorities going a little far and banning specific costumes, like creepy clowns, the overall move to not choose offensive costumes — stereotyping racial, ethnic, religious or ethnic minorities, for example — is something we should all applaud.

There are those that claim this is just political correctness gone wild, but they’re wrong. The difference between irreverent mocking and being offensive may be a thin line, but it’s there. Halloween is supposed to be fun — candy for the kids, a reason to party for adults, scary stuff, jokes. It shouldn’t be about cultural appropriation, disrespect or stepping over that line between gently mocking and insulting.

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