Send in the clowns

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Send in the clowns
News icon.jpg by Staff Writer - October 1, 2016



Joseph Kutter Tête de Clown.jpg

Is it real or a Halloween hoax? Recently, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia [1], Ohio [2], New Jersey [3], Oregon [4], Kentucky [5] and Tennessee have gone on high alert due to clown sightings. In South Carolina at the end of August, children reported that mysterious clowns tried to lure them into the woods. [6] [7] In Coffee county, Tennessee, police are investigating claims that a clown attacked a juvenile. In Georgia, children reported that three clowns were “wearing face paint and were shining lasers as they ran out of the woods and up and down the street”. [8] An Alabama school was briefly placed on lock down after a post on Facebook stated that clowns were at the school. [9] But is it real? No adults appear to have witnessed these events. However, in two instances the children reported that the clowns had laser pointers. The police investigators are taking these reports very seriously and let's face it, clowns are creepy. As of this time, several arrests have been made for "making a terrorist threat" [10], and an Arkansas police officer was suspended without pay for dressing up as a clown at home during a family/friend gathering and the pictures later appeared on social media. [11]


Coulrophobia[12] (the fear of clowns) in running rampant as Halloween approaches, clowns lurking in every shadow and dark corner trying to lure away children for nonferrous purposes. These stories play on everyone's most primal fear, that some evil force is trying to hurt children. These types of stories go back to the very dawn of recorded history where Lilith [13] was stealing children from their beds and has continued right up to the modern era with films like Stephen King's It. [14] Like the moral panic over pedophilia, this type of hysteria seems to take on a life of its own and spread like a plague from one person to another, from town to town, and state to state, and now country to country across the globe. Of course, there was one real life clown monster. His name was John Wayne Gacy [15], also known as the clown killer. This man did unspeakable things to many young men. Is it now time for congress to pass a "clown registration act"? Isn't it far past time that we outlaw the bogyman and the bump in the night?


Right now, no one knows for sure if the majority of these clown sighting have any basis in reality or if they are simply phantoms made up by the imaginative minds of children, and in many cases their parents and the police as well. Just like in the Salem witch trials [16], you can't always take for gospel truth every word and every story a child tells you. Maybe it's time that we as a society start approaching some of these stories and reports with just a grain of skepticism. That if it sounds unreal, we have a right to doubt it's veracity and not be accused of "blaming the victim". That is not to say that the police should not reasonably investigate every complaint and possible threat and act with due diligence. But there is a line between act and react, just as with the case of the police officer in Arkansas being suspended for dressing as a clown, which is neither a laps in judgement nor a currently prohibited behavior. Just because the police launch an investigation, it does not mean that an arrest needs to be made when it turns out to be a child's Halloween prank. When we as a society and as individuals start overreacting to things which common sense should be telling us are make-believe, we are all in trouble and it makes us all, just simply, a bunch of clowns.


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