Let’s face it. Clowns are always scary. Everyone knows that. (File)

COLUMN: Halloween shouldn’t be a purity test

The holiday is a time of pretending and fun

With Halloween around the corner, legions of politically correct snowflakes have already risen like ghouls from the burying-ground, intent upon wringing every last drop of fun from my favourite holiday.

Halloween costumes, it seems, have been ascribed political and social significance that never existed in my youth.

For example, these days little girls are allowed to dress like Disney’s Cinderella, but heaven help any child who wears a Pochahontas costume. That’s cultural appropriation and insulting to First Nations communities, they say.

When I was a child, we didn’t worry about all that. We dressed up and ventured out in search of treats, and never for a moment fretted that our toilet paper mummy costume might be seen as a painful reminder of the theft of ancient artifacts from a colonized Egypt.

But today? Hoo boy!

The Halloween culture wars are in full swing, especially in schools.

One school in B.C. has banned ghosts, zombies and vampires from their Halloween festivities and encouraged children to dress as “delicious food items.”

Really. Not making that up.

And while the transition from zombies to zucchinis might be politically correct, I can only imagine that their Halloween dance looks like a giant Fruit of the Loom commercial.

Other schools have taken a page from an early Christian church that turned pagan holidays in December into Christmas.

Those schools are trying to ban costumes and rename Halloween as Orange and Black Day or School Spirit Day. (And that’s not the fun, spooky spirits either. Just the Rah! Rah! type.)

I suppose they’re hoping that children will forget that it’s Halloween.

Good luck with that.

At least in the Sooke School District, a more reasoned approach prevails.

They’ve issued guidelines that prohibit full face masks but allow for face makeup. They just want to be able to identify the children. Seems logical.

They have also asked that students not dress like scary clowns. It’s a move that I personally appreciate since Pennywise terrifies me and has forever imbued me with an illogical fear of red balloons.

Mostly, though, the Sooke School District suggests that students and parents exercise their best judgment.

For example, schools superintendent Scott Stinson suggests that at the elementary level really scary costumes might be upsetting to the younger children and should be toned down.

Again, that’s a reasonable approach.

But it’s also a bit of common sense that could remain unsaid as evidenced by the fact that my 10-year-old granddaughter explained the same point to me weeks ago.

“You don’t want something so scary that it scares kindergarten kids,” she said. “That wouldn’t be very nice.”

And that’s the key.

But being reasonable and caring doesn’t translate into a need for restrictions. And it does not mean that we succumb to the arbitrary purity tests that some may demand.

Vegetable costumes and Orange and Black Days aren’t what’s needed. Just a little common sense.

And I’m guessing that left to their own devices, most kids and parents will figure it out on their own.

A scary thought for self-appointed, politically correct Orange and Black Day watchdogs.


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