Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Halloween's Coming! Hide Your Zero Tolerance Policy!

The local grocery and discount stores have had Halloween candies and costumes out for a couple weeks already.  With the snap of cold air here in the Metro DC area, the early display of Halloween goodies now doesn't seem so early.  Halloween's triumphal approach reminds me of a short piece I wrote a few years back, touching on the strange intersection of Halloween and a public school's "zero tolerance" policy regarding "weapons" in school.

Read on, and try not to weep:

The Bad News? The Schoolhouse Burned! The Good News? No Weapons Were Used!

From Thursday, November 05, 1998 09:58:07 AM

In which we learn that the inanity of public school political correctness makes two innocent things, Halloween parties and firefighters, object lessons on the dangers of fearing imagined dangers.

Call it a character defect if you must, but I enjoy Halloween. Probably, the pleasure I take in the day simply is a reflection of the happiness it brings to children. In that case, of course, I have the privilege of having lots of reflected Halloween delight shine around me: my wife, Terri, and I have eight children. It might also be, of course, that celebrating Halloween is such an Irish-American contrarian thing to do. After all, even if all doctrinal differences could be resolved among the various communions of the Christian faith, don't you strongly suspect that too deep divisions separate those Christians who demonize the celebration of Halloween, Easter and Christmas, on one side, and those who celebrate these days for their religious significance and as welcome opportunities to spend time with family and to share in the cheer that holidays bring.

Although I enjoy Halloween, I do not like what the slasher movie crowd has done to co-opt this children's event. So, in our home, you will not find ghouls, Freddy Kruegers, demonic minions, or such other characters. You will find little pumpkins running around, and we have had Injuns (er, make that Native Americans), Arabian princesses, gypsies, and even an escaped convict in the classic black-and-white striped suit. Obviously, by guiding my children to innocent and fanciful characters, and by barring them from the macabre, I am helping them to actually experience the fact that fear is not a prerequisite to fun, and that noodling with dark images is not where the children of the light should be found.

Other lessons have also been taught as part of Halloween observations around our Nation. In Deer Lake, for example. There, the lesson is one that truly amazes. One five-year kindergartner and his mom visited a local shop where they purchased a fireman's costume for the boy to where to school on the Friday before Halloween. Little Johnnie, it seems, wanted nothing more than to emulate one of those often-heroic figures that loom large in our communities when lives, homes or businesses are endangered by fire. So the Little Fireman headed happily off to school and his mom headed in to the office for the day. Neither Johnnie nor Mom gave thought to the terrible dangers to which they were subjecting Johnnie's schoolmates and teachers that day.