Image: David Gallagher.
Halloween, the eve of All Saints, November 1, is just around the corner. In the USA there have been numerous clown sightings which range from the bazaar to the deadly. Creepy clowns have appeared in the United Kingdom with some gross images posted on the web. International copycats have appeared in Australia and elsewhere. How should we respond?
Obviously, in our US culture, we face a delicate balance between allowing the right of free expression while safeguarding the right of citizens to reasonable security and child protection.The first instance appears to have occurred in Greenville, North Carolina. Then copycat clowns appeared in about half of the states. One creepy clown has been charged with stabbing a high school student to death. A couple guys wearing clown masks staged armed robberies at a Phoenix Taco Bell and at a Domino’s pizzeria. They are under arrest and charged, as they ought to be.
It is a tough time to be a professional clown. Ronald McDonald is laying low after corporate headquarters intervened in October. Randy Christensen, president of the World Association of Clowns, has taken a stance against the current trend of individuals dressing up as clowns to frighten people saying these people fly in the face of what clowns represent.
Parents would be ill-advised to dress their children as clowns for trick-or-treating on Halloween. But what does this craze indicate about our culture?
In my opinion, this fad is another example of how our society has lost a sense of the common good. By that I mean an implicit understanding of what will contribute to the proper flourishing of our society and all its members. It is the duty of governments, in their respective cultural contexts, to promote and protect the good of every individual through just laws and law enforcement, such as providing legal protection of those who are weak or disadvantaged. Creepy clowns seem to work against the needs of children who have the right to a secure, safe environment in which to develop.
Furthermore, creepy clowns seem to weaken the sort of social environment that allows all citizens to develop their full potential. Indeed, creepy clowns are a symptom of radical individualism running amuck. Fortunately, they are not rampant, even if some of them are truly disturbing.