Tom Purcell, 10/22/2007 [Archive]

Contemporary Halloween

Contemporary Halloween

By Tom Purcell

"Ah, yes, the Halloween season is here. What fun it is to decorate and dress up in funny costumes every year."

"A typical viewpoint of a smug, ugly, self-centered American."

"Pardon me?"

"Consider the poor Wiccan lady in Chicopee, Massachusetts. As she drove down the street, she saw the most insulting Halloween decoration -- a plastic witch hanging from a noose!"

"That's pretty funny."

"It isn't funny. It's a hate crime. The Wiccan faith is protected under America's laws like any other organized religion. How'd you like it if I hung a Christian from a noose in my front yard?"

"But it's Halloween, a time to playfully mock death, suffering and evil."

"No, it's a time when the majority carelessly offends the minority. Some Christians, Muslims and people of other faiths see Halloween as a celebration of the dark arts. Wiccans feel that it marginalizes their deep-held beliefs. Shouldn't we be more sensitive to their needs?"

"Look, Halloween is for kids. It's a time for them to be creative and pretend to be something they are not."

"Not in government-funded schools. Every year more schools are banning Halloween celebrations so as not to offend anyone. Children's costumes are potentially toxic, anyhow."


"Don't you know that Americans, addicted to cheap goods, are getting costumes from China? Manufacturing regulations are inconsistent there. That's because the rich American corporations that buy Chinese goods want to keep costs down. You'll be lucky if your kid doesn't get lead poisoning."

"Then let kids make their own costumes. It's great fun to come up with a clever idea. I went as a hobo one year."

"A hobo? You mocked the circumstances of a poor man forced to live on the street because of the policies of George Bush? You must be a Republican."

"All I know is that when I was a kid, we'd go trick-or-treating as soon as dusk fell. We'd walk miles to fill our pillowcases with candy. It was a great time!"

"Are you insane, sir?! No modern parent would allow his child to roam the streets in such a dangerous world. Parents should be afraid -- very afraid!"

"But after we spent hours trick-or-treating, we sat down and devoured our sweet reward: delicious chocolate bars."

"And you contributed to global warming. Don't you know that cocoa is grown and processed in South America? Fossil fuels must be burned to transport it north, where rich American corporations waste more energy to manufacture chocolate. More fuel is wasted to distribute it. Halloween should be a day for children to forsake chocolate, so they can help save the environment."

"But it's just a candy bar!"

"Just a candy bar? How do you account for the exploited cocoa farmers who are ripped off by powerful American corporations every day? How do you account for child slavery? The underpaid cocoa farmers must exploit children to harvest and process the cocoa beans."

"Child slavery?"

"Besides, chocolate bars are filled with saturated fat. Aren't our children obese enough already? Not to mention that milk chocolate requires innocent cows to be kept in captivity in deplorable conditions."

"For goodness' sake, what is happening to America? How did we get to a point where every holiday or tradition is offensive to somebody? Can't we just relax? Can't the majority of Americans enjoy a grand Halloween tradition that dates back to the 19th century? Goodness knows, in these divided times, we're in need of a little fun."

"That is precisely what a smug, ugly, self-centered American would say."

"Smug, ugly, self-centered American? Now there's an idea for a costume."

Tom Purcell is a humor columnist nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons. For comments to Tom, please email him at

RESTRICTIONS: 'Tom Purcell's column may not be reprinted in general circulation print media in Pennsylvania's Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, and Westmoreland Counties. It may appear only in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and its sister publications."

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