Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Costumes, Elementary School, Common Sense and (Daft?) New Rules

"Drop the Halloween Mask! It Might Scare Someone"
U.S., The New York Times (October 29, 2009)

"Little Bo Peep would make the cut at the Halloween parade at Riverside Drive Elementary School here on Friday, but the staff she used to menace her sheep would probably have to go...."

"...In a school district in Illinois, students are being encouraged to dress up as historical characters or delicious food items rather than vampires or zombies...."

"... A memo about costume appropriateness sent home recently by Riverside Drive's principal made the following points:

"¶They should not depict gangs or horror characters, or be scary.

"¶Masks are allowed only during the parade.

"¶Costumes may not demean any race, religion, nationality, handicapped condition or gender.

"¶No fake fingernails.

"¶No weapons, even fake ones.

"¶Shoes must be worn.

"Joel Bishoff's children will make the cut at Riverside Drive. His second grader will be Dorothy (not the witch!) from 'The Wizard of Oz,' while his fifth-grade son will wear a costume depicting a box of Wheaties.

" 'I'm not sure what is driving this memo,' Mr. Bishoff said. 'But perhaps it is reaction to years past. Sometimes kids will have those "Scream" masks, but usually not too blood and gutsy. I mean, can't parents have discretion? The fact is, if parents are too stupid to not send kids to school with hockey masks as Jason, they are probably too stupid to read this memo.' ..."

I'm with Mr. Bishoff on this.

I'm also (slightly) sympathetic with the folks who write up those occasionally-daft rules. Some Halloween costumes are downright scary, and I don't think that the producers of 'slasher' films did American culture any favors.

Besides, in today's lawsuit-crazed climate: who could reasonably blame a principal for banning, for example, forks in the cafeteria: on the off chance that Johnny or Janie's parents would sue because their kids were (allegedly) scared of the sharp points?

Actually, the current bans may not go far enough. Coming to a party as a box of Wheaties might be seen as advocating cannibalism. Scary!

A tip of the hat to johnpmack, on Twitter, for the heads-up on this article.

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