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Halloween has come and gone. We got less than 20 trick-or-treaters at our house. And this is in a neighborhood that was only recently the fastest growing segment of the fastest growing city in the United States. Now, far be it for me--ha ha--to slip into tinfoil hat territory. . .
But could it be that the politics of fear, the all-pervasive "be afraid" bugaboo has even ruined Halloween? That may seem like quite the conclusion to jump to, but bear with me. As a child of the 70s, I remember trick-or-treating with massive hordes of kids, and virtually no adults. Sure, our parents let us do more--a lot more--than parents of today. But we were given boundaries, areas of the neighborhood we had to stick to, and would have been severely embarrassed to have our folks tag along.
I remember stories of razor blades in candy, and needles in apples, but we never took it very seriously. Mom's rule was that she got to go through our haul, and eliminate anything homemade, suspicious, or her favorite candy bar. And I seriously don't remember even one kid having anything unfortunate happen to him, beyond tripping over his costume, running into a tree because of a badly-formed mask, or maybe getting hit by a car because he was dressed all in black. And that was rare.
Today, police groups, and other organizations hold contained, "safe" Halloween events. Here in Vegas, there is a "Trunk or Treat" being held at the Hard Rock, where kids just go from car to car to get their treats. Police group or not, that sounds worse to me than house to house. Even weirder, here in Vegas sex offenders are banned from participating in the holiday in any way. They must keep the lights off, not answer the door, and pretend they're not home (and risk an egging).
Now, far be it for me to defend sex offenders, but tell me, doesn't that seem extreme? The class of "sex offender" is rather broad after all, not just kiddy-philes, and we're talking about people who have completed whatever sentences were handed out to them. They can't even be in the same home as someone who is handing out candy, or even take their own children out trick-or-treating. Sounds draconian to me, even accounting for the ick factor.
But back to the politics of fear, of which the above is a part. Parents go to great lengths to make sure their kids are safe, and that's a good thing. But like all good things in this country, we take them to ridiculous extremes. Parents take their kids to these "safe" events, with a sense of satisfaction that they've "saved" their children from the predators, the razor blades, and all manner of urban legends. And bravo! You've instilled in them a fear of their own neighborhoods.
Read about the Halloween Urban Legends at: Snopes.com
Read about the Las Vegas rules for sex offenders, and "Trunk or Treat" at: Las Vegas Review-Journal