Halloween Ethics: Fat-Shaming Kids in Fargo

halloween letter

UPDATE: There is some persuasive, if not conclusive evidence that “Cheryl” is a hoax. As usual in such cases, my analysis is the same regarding the conduct whether it actually occurred or is merely hypothetical. All forms of media hoaxes are unethical, unless they are obvious or flagged by the perpetrator before other media picks them up as factual. I detest them, and I detest those who create them.


If she follows through as promised, a Fargo Morehead, West Fargo, N.D. woman we know only as “Cheryl” will be handing out fat-shaming letters to trick-or-treating children who in her unsolicited opinion are too fat. The letter, sealed but certain to be read, if not immediately recognized, given the pre-October 31st publicity, by the unlucky children receiving them tells parents of the costumed kids she considers porkers that they need to do a better job parenting.

Cheryl is a presumptuous, meddling jerk, and if I got handed such a letter by my child, Cheryl would have to worry about a lot more than toilet paper in her trees and flaming bags of poop on her doorstep.

If she does not want to participate in the charmingly archaic yearly tradition of Halloween, her one ethical choice is to turn off her lights and erect a sign that says “No candy handed out here. Go away, please.” Adults who hijack the purpose of Halloween, which was still, the last I checked, fun, are rude and unkind, as well as intolerant cultural dictators without a sense of fairness or community. This applies to those who withhold the traditional candy and hand out toothbrushes, dental floss, frozen spinach or other unwelcome “treats.” Adults who hijack the purpose of Halloween and in the process call the innocent young visitors to their home fat while chastising their parents make me want to re-examine my objections to re-education camps.

Cheryl, signalling her likely status as a Hillary Clinton fan, cites “It Takes A Village” to justify her completely unjustified incursion into child-rearing, meaning that she is one of those warped denizens of the totalitarian left who believes “the village” has an inherent right to raise your child whether you want it to or not.  In reality, if it’s filled with people like Cheryl,  I don’t want to live in that village, much less have it inflict its Soviet priorities on my family. The fact that my kids or yours knock on Cheryl’s door one day a year on the reasonable assumption that she isn’t a fitness Nazi does not grant her leave to start calling them obese or telling us that we’re bad parents. She, on the other hand, is a rotten neighbor, a poor role model, an officious meddler and, if she is a parent herself, someone whose own child needs a hug, and probably therapy.

Not that I’d send Cheryl a letter telling her this, because I, unlike her, respect the autonomy of others. Oh, I know what you’re thinking: once we’re all paying for each other’s health care, we’ll be dictating menus and exercise regimens, and taxing parents who let their children collect candy that isn’t sugar free.

One outrage at a time is all I can handle.

Halloween, as most sane people know, occurs once a year. Now, if my child rang Cheryl’s door bell every night asking for Crisco and doughnuts, I agree that she would have the obligation to let me know that my kid has a problem. But a bag of candy once a year doesn’t make anyone fat, any more than St. Patrick’s Day makes twenty-somethings alcoholics, or finding Easter eggs leads to high levels of cholesterol.

Cheryl is the one in need of instruction here, as she has absorbed the toxic, if increasingly popular, attitude that strangers, often with government support, have an intrinsic right to tell us the “right” way for our  children to look, eat, think and live. We might also look into what it is in our current political discourse and education that is creating creatures like Cheryl, who would be less welcome in my home than the average werewolf.

Back off, Cheryl.

You’re a menace.


Facts: USA Today; Syracuse.com

32 thoughts on “Halloween Ethics: Fat-Shaming Kids in Fargo

  1. I have a few observations after this evening…

    1) I am fucking convinced one of those little shits voted in the last fucking election…

    2) The next child that asks “what other candy so you have” will forfeit their candy haul up to that point. And gets punched in the face. Their parent gets kicked in the crotch when they come complain.

    2.1) Same goes for “do you have more?”

    2.1.1) Parents that laugh at the above because they thought it was cute? Well, you all just wait right there while I check to see if Texas still has that “they just needed killing” homiced justification on the books… … Fuxk. No. Fine. Two kicks to the crotch, then.

    3) Knocking more than once within 10 seconds should be grounds for slapping the parents.

    4) If it looks like you drove yourself to come trick-or-treat, don’t get pissy when I ask for ID – get a job and buy your own candy, you little shit.

    5) Yes, I see you eying the best way to TP the house. Yes I know what that looks like, I was your age once. Just remember that this is Texas, and the castle doctrine in this state is astonishingly robust.

    6) To the mother with the maybe 2-year old child that commented on the work being done inside – why don’t you hand that kid off to the guy 10 feet behind you that I assume is your your husband, and you come in so I can “show you the work that is being done”…

    7) I am the last person to criticize a parent who might have a large cup of “something” to drink while taking the kids around – if I was a parent, such a thing would never leave my reach. It is, however, fucking rude to have not brought enough to share.

      • I swear to god that last gaggle of girls were legal

        At the very least they drive here – I know because when I said “oh come on… Did you drive here?” most of them got very guilty looks on their faces…

        • Any kids we arbitrarily determined were older than 12 were given an ultimatum. They had to perform a trick if they wanted candy. That put most off. The ones industrious enough to do something, the most popular action was a cartwheel, got a piece for their efforts.

          We also have an additional problem, in the form of “irish travelers”. They live about a mile from our neighborhood and our neighborhood is known for generous trick or treating. They will swarm the neighborhood in droves and hit houses multiple multiple times. We inevitably recognize them and become hard asses and tell them to move on. This year it was much better, we’ve heard (and it’s difficult gather info on their insular community) that their clan leaders are trying to get them more settled and mainstream.

          We don’t however mind the families that drive here or walk here from the neighborhood next door. It’s from a much lower economic background and they want their kids to experience community fun too, so I don’t necessarily have an issue with people who drive to trick or treat in our neighborhood.

    • We grew up in such a crappy rural area that there wasn’t really anything for older kids to do on Halloween, so if a 17 year old was willing to put on a costume and wander the neighborhood then sure, have some candy. My father did go down in legend for responding to two teens sheperding around a kid though- a pair of “Trick or Treats” got each older kid a single piece, followed by “I’M DARTH MAUL! RAWWRRR!!!” earning a giant handful.

      When my sister was ~12 she visited me at college and trick or treated in the dorms (rooms giving out candy had flyers on the door so kids knew they were playing along). One guy looked at her and told her she was too old and therefore stupid, and shut the door in her face. A few of my less rule-following friends then convinced her that since she DID say “trick or treat” she had given him a choice… and then taught her how to fill the cylinder of a door lock with toothpaste.

      In conclusion, I love Halloween 😀

    • One of my friends had the best posts on this subject last night. He saw a small girl standing alone with her candy and an open Yuengling. Obviously confused and concerned, he began looking for a parent — who he then found peeing in the bushes. Hilarious!

    • 2.1) Same goes for “do you have more?”
      That’s funny.
      One year my bachelor brother was having dinner with us while the kids were coming to the door and that is exactly what happened, one kid asked for another one.
      I thought my brother might never get over that.
      The child’s mother was embarrassed and apologized…hopefully that boy isn’t now an Obama supporter sucking up the entitlements…haha.

  2. I do want to gibe an ethics shout out to three young girls in the 13 to 15 age range. They are clearly going around now – maybe 30 or more later – with a late-comer friend. The friend came to the door, the other three stayed back a good six feet, making it clear they were not “in the queue”.

    Most kids would have at least tried for another piece of candy.

    I didn’t see any parents (through they could have been in a car down the street watching, for all I know). These kids were both raised right, and put it into practice while, I assume, no one was watching.

    That was a great way to end the night. Only 5 pieces of candy left, so the lights are out and we’re calling a close to Waste-of-Candy-fest 2013…

  3. Jack,

    Do my emails get to your spam folder or are they just bypassed?

    Her letter represents the whole “I know whats best for you, not you” attitude that grips alot of people. Your analysis is spot on.

    Of course, I’d at least remind her at a minimum, barring any serious ass chewings, that if she wishes to inform the populace of their bad eating habits, she should at least do so with a modicum of intelligence.

    If that is indeed a scan of her letter, then she missed a comma between “holidays” and “neighbor”, “you child” should read “your child”, and she forgot a period for her last sentence.

    • No, I don’t think so. Which email are you referring to? I know someone sent me the story about the Fargo woman a few days ago—I’m on the road, so I don’t have access to that file, or would include a credit. I’ve been overwhelmed with email the last couple of weeks and also distracted…Red Sox, you know.

      Now, despite my chiding a recent commenter for resorting to typo-baiting, typos in mass produced hard copy communications are telling. But we don’t need the typos to know that she’s an idiot.

      • No I agree. And typos are generally acceptable given the nature of the conversations and the fact that people have things they have to do that often outrank stringent proofreading.

        However, the mode she chose to be superior to other people, she’d better damn well be superior in that mode of communication.

        I recall briefing to a Battalion Commander once, using a slide show for support. It was about 45-50 slides long. Most of the slides were quick blurbs, the other slides with lots of supporting data (that would generally get quickly skimmed past, but were only present in case the Commander wanted to get into the nitty gritty).

        He was EXTREMELY sharp and the briefing was effective and he understood everything going on. At the end of the briefing he was very complimentary of the presentation and thoroughness of information. He felt comfortable with his now proficient level of knowledge on the subject.

        Then he quickly said “go back to slide XX, you misspelled this, go to slide YY all your bullet points are missing periods which isn’t uniform with the rest of the presentation, go to slide ZZ, your sentence here uses passive voice. Fix those errors, so I don’t look inept when I brief the Brigade Commander. Thanks!”

        (Because the Brigade Commander was even MORE sharp than he was when it came to noticing even the tiniest detail despite volume of pertinent information)

  4. I dunno about the whole “screw people who hand out toothbrushes” thing. Those are expensive. and that’s nowhere NEAR as bad as saying “hey, you’re fat.” Maybe it’s stupid and against the spirit of the holiday, but it’s not as bad as the fat note. But if you hand out toothbrushes and you’re not a dentist, what is your freaking problem? And why WOULD a dentist hand out toothbrushes? Aren’t they, like, the competition? Cavities equals dollar signs to a dentist, right? I’m gonna invent a candy toothbrush just to screw with some heads. And make toothpaste shaped like a Milky Way. And floss shaped like a Twizzler.

    • I dunno about the whole “screw people who hand out toothbrushes” thing. Those are expensive. and that’s nowhere NEAR as bad as saying “hey, you’re fat.” Maybe it’s stupid and against the spirit of the holiday, but it’s not as bad as the fat note.
      I think a person that righteous about fat kids should ethically sit Halloween out.
      After all, a skinny kid might share his loot with a fat kid.

      Or give out non-food items like balloons, erasers, tablets and suchlike.

      Kids have enough trouble today just dealing with their peers without some idiot parent trying to be important.

  5. You know what? If this DOES turn out to be a hoax, two good things will come from it:

    1. We can sigh in relief that nobody actually wanted to do this.
    2. We can see those who said they supported this theoretical action in comments and flick paper clips at them, because they suck.

    • Yes! But..
      1. Thanks to their reading this, there may be, and probably are, some people who were inspired by the idea, and probably had their own letters. After all, one of the “experts” pronounced “Cheryl’s” idea a “public service,” and
      2. This is why people believed the hoax, and ironically why it was an unethical one. It’s too plausible.

      • But is it possible to make something like that IS unbelievable enough? Even if I said I was a space alien from the planet Djdjdjd, I bet someone would believe me. Maybe that’s what Jonathan Swift thought…

  6. ok…she’s the heavy here. No pun intended. But isn’t there is big enough portion of this country that wants to curb the “me. me me…more sweet stuff, hedonism” of the last few generations? You can’t replace an intact family with cheetohs and ipods, but that’s where we are today. And then they reproduce….

  7. Why are we assuming that this woman (who probably doesn’t exist!) is a liberal? Usually people who use the “village” language are mocking leftists and Hillary in particular. In any event, this woman is an ass. I would write a letter back to her children (if she had any) warning them that their mother is a critical bitch, so you’ll have to be careful that you don’t become bitches too. It takes a village, after all.

      • This fictional person is an ass — on that we can agree. But, in my experience, most “it takes a village” comments when it comes to criticizing parents and/or children tend to come from right-leaning people and they are justifying their bitchiness by throwing out a Hillaryism. When lefties use the phrase (which I haven’t seen them do in the last decade), it tends to be about sweeping policy and legislation reforms. This latter category can be just as annoying of course, but it is a different category.

  8. This woman has a terminal case of Chutzpah. Would have made a good aide for the former NYC Mayor Bloomberg and his proposal to ban sweetened drinks. I must admit however when I seen grossly obese kids at Walmart, I feel like slapping their dumb parents or making some snide comment. But I wisely don’t.

  9. Considering that Fargo is, arguably, the coldest city in the country, come winter a nice fat layer is not a bad thing.

    Love the T-or-T stories above. I’m out and about all day though. Took a bag of goodies with me and surprised a lot of grownups — distributed to bus drivers, street sweepers, fruit-and-veg sellers, tourists, garbagemen/recyclers, librarians, a postman, a metermaid, a newspaper-stand man, and the remaining handful to a weary young fellow on his way home from afterschool Chinese school who stood up to give me his seat on the trolley. Very satisfactory day.

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