Friday, October 11, 2013

Holiday double standard

A couple of story's caught my attention recently, and not for the right reasons. Not one, but two Halloween displays have come under threat, and not for very good and consistent reasons.

The first is in Midlothian, VA. A family's Halloween decorations have come under fire because a sole person found it 'offensive'. So what if they found it offensive. No one has the right to not be offended. But it makes me wonder... What did he find so offensive?

The object of his offense was none other than the inclusion of a fake electric chair, complete with a seated and hooded 'inmate' about to meet his final fate. So... what's the big deal? It is Halloween after all...
"To any passersby it looks like a dead man," said the viewer who wished to remain anonymous. "How am I supposed to explain that to my kids while we wait at the red light? I shouldn't have to. It is tasteless and extremely offensive. I urge you to investigate and see why this kind of display is acceptable in our lovely community."
And the shitty parent of the year award goes to... Hey Hr. Obvious, it's part of a Halloween display. No one actually thinks a state execution is taking place in someones front yard. And what are you going to tell your kids? First off, almost any kid that knows it is an electric chair will know it's a decoration. Those that don't know will view it the same as everything else they've never seen or heard of before. So they might be curious, but not scared.

But suppose your child is aware of what an electric chair is, but doesn't realize it's fake. How about using it as a parenting opportunity. Tell him/her that he was a bad man, and that's what hapens when you break the law. Or try something really daring and tell them the truth. I know what you're saying... "Tell my son that the fake execution is fake? What are you, crazy?". If telling the truth is crazy, I'm guilty as charged.

But the worst part of the 'what will I tell my kids' excuse is that it shows how irresponsible of a parent you are. Sorry, but the rest of the world isn't there to do that job for you. How will you explain that Halloween display to your kid? What about when you took your kid to church for the first time? How did you explain the giant statue of Jesus being tortured to death? If you can explain that satisfactorily, a Halloween decoration should be easy. And what about cemeteries? Do you demand they be bulldozed or a high fence raised? After all, one of your kids might point and ask what a grave stone is. Then you'll be faced with having to explain death. Please, just quit your whining, and try to be a real parent for a change.

Finally, some are calling this display a 'disturbance in the area'. Sorry, but if their display is a disturbance, then the house that puts up a 15ft tall inflatable snowman, or those with animated inflatable Christmas displays are 'a disturbance' too. Funny how no one takes those up with the county in hopes of having them removed.

The second, and a real loss, is the Haunted Garden in Silver Spring, MD. Due to a challenge and temporary restraining order, the Haunted Garden will not take place this year, even though no laws are being violated.

Why? A minority of neighbors (most of the neighbors actually love it) raised a fuss in a apparent need to ruin the fun for everyone. The Haunted Garden was (and hopefully will be again) a five day display that people could experience free of charge. But what are the argument against it?

But not all of Kerr’s neighbors look forward to the annual five-night event, which they say is neither trick nor treat but a big, fat hassle, with traffic and parking headaches on their narrow streets and general disruption caused by the estimated 500 visitors a night.
First off, many of the neighbors have gone on record to state that the traffic and parking issue is being greatly exaggerated by the complainant. But lets assume there is extra traffic and less parking.  How is this any different than when someone has an elaborate Christmas display set up? When there are Christmas displays on the scale of the Haunted Gardens, people stop, look, take pictures. Maybe even take in a live nativity recreation. If the Haunted Gardens had to cancel this year due to a challenge, then surely the county will shut down large scale Christmas displays as well, right?... Somehow I don't see that happening.
On Friday afternoon, the county went to court and argued that the Haunted Garden would endanger residents and cause “immediate, substantial and irreparable harm to the County.” It raised particular concern about pedestrians crossing busy Sligo Creek Parkway at night to get to Kerr’s home, which is one block off the parkway.
Again, how is this any different than a big Christmas display? People cross streets in the dark to look at Christmas lights. So they should pull those down too? What of houses covered head to toe in Christmas lights that blink in unison to Christmas music? That's no different than this Halloween display. So is an overboard Christmas display also cause “immediate, substantial and irreparable harm to the County?” We actually have a house around the corner that lights every square inch of their house, yard and trees from the day after Thanksgiving until New Years. If a five day Halloween display is so, bad than this much be so much worse! Sadly, I have a hard time believing that the same judge would order that the Christmas lights be unplugged. No consistency at all.

So while the first display has been allowed to remain, the second has been forced to cancel. Even though inspectors found that it was all in keeping with the sound and lighting ordinances in the area (they did have to remove a sign). But legality doesn't matter to some apparently. I don't care for the house around the corner that goes way overboard on the lights. But I also don't complain. Why? Because they aren't breaking the law, and neither was the Haunted Garden. Sadly that didn't seem to matter to some. I may be going out on a limb here, but I have to wonder if the initial complaint was by an overly Christian person who (wrongly) thinks Halloween is the devil's holiday. I very well could be wrong, but I wouldn't be surprised... I just hope that the Haunted Garden will be allowed to return next year.

-Brain Hulk

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