As the leaves start to change color and fall, and as it starts to get more brisk out, one can’t help but notice that Halloween is just around the corner.
While Halloween is a widely celebrated holiday that people of all ages participate in, it still remains a controversial holiday in regards to what costumes people should or shouldn’t wear. What it comes down to is whether a costume is viewed as offensive or not. I grant that, on any other day of the year, wearing an insensitive costume in public would be despicable.
However, it seems absurd to me that there is a push, especially from college educated individuals, to censor what a person wears during a holiday where being completely different, offensive and scary is the entire point.
What it boils down to, I believe, is the intent behind the costume, which many proponents of costume censorship during Halloween don’t seem to understand.
For many Halloweens, as a kid growing up, I would dress up as a ninja. I did not do this because I was trying to steal the cultural heritage of Japan and exploit an entire race. I dressed up as a ninja because I thought they were one of the coolest warriors in all of history.
Running from house to house and getting candy with my friends, dressed up in all black like a ninja from feudal Japan, would made me so happy. Why would anyone want to suppress this completely innocent joy just because it could be deemed offensive?
Anything can be deemed offensive by anyone but that does not mean they are necessarily justified or right. This was seen last year at Yale University. A faculty member, Nicholas Christakis suggested, “If you don’t like a costume someone is wearing, look away, or tell them you are offended. Talk to each other. Free speech and the ability to tolerate offence are the hallmarks of a free and open society.”
The response to Christakis’ thoughtful solution ironically resulted in more censorship of freedom, protest and daily verbal assaults on Christakis and his wife until they finally decided to step down from their positions at Yale.
You are not fighting for liberal principles if you call for censorship of freedom of expression. That is a fact.However, I am not saying there shouldn’t be any sort of boundary. Even though I think everyone has the right to wear whatever they want, I do believe there is a line and that it depends on intent.
This is a hallmark of our justice system in this country, I might add. If someone is wearing a Halloween costume to solely exploit a certain demographic or group of people than they should absolutely be ridiculed for that.
If a little child, however, is wearing a Native American headdress because they really loved learning about them in history class and they admire Native American’s values, why would anyone put the child in the same group as a terrible person who is trying to dehumanize someone to an extreme extent with their costume?
What it all comes down to is dialogue.If you find someone’s costume offensive during Halloween, then you should talk with them like an adult and try to find their reasoning and intent behind it.If you think anyone should wear anything they want, even if it’s the most offensive possible costume ever, explain to people why you hold your views and what values you believe in.
On the other hand, calls for universal censorship, wild accusations and ironically witch-like hunts during Halloween for whoever is wearing an “offensive” costume will only lead to more social regression within our country.