Halloween Ethics And The Right To Bad Taste

We watch a lot of horror movies, but the inexplicably popular Netflix series “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” was too much for us, and the Marshalls bailed on the thing before the first episode was over. However, the show has spawned, among other troubling responses, the marketing of various Dahmer Halloween costumes.

Ew. That’s creepy, but then, Halloween is supposed to be creepy. What exactly is the taste distinction (oops, setting up a bad Jeffrey Dahmer joke there!) between portraying a real life monster like Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, the BTK killer or Ed Gein (the model for Norman Bates, among others) and movie murderers like Leatherface, Jason Voorhies, Michael Myers, the “Scream” slasher, and the Dahmer-like Hannibal Lector? I’ve seen Hitler and Osama bin Laden costumes; I once considered trick-or-treating as Jack the Ripper. If there’s a rule, I’ve never seen it explained. Is it that real scary people from history are taboo? Is there a statute of limitations? Jack the Ripper ripped almost a 140 years ago. That can’t be it: here are some living political figures (well, Rush is dead) whose faces are available online:

Adan Schiff? Nancy Pelosi? Dr. Fauci? I think I’d rather be Jeffey Dahmer, thanks, but that’s just me.

But I digress. Ebay, being a Big Tech company and thus believing it has a duty to tell Americans what they can do, say or dress up as, has announced that it will not accept listings for Jeffrey Dahmer costumes any longer, as it deplores “listings that promote or glorify violence or violent acts,” which, they reason, include costumes of individuals who are notorious for committing acts of violence.

EBay can bite me (oops, another Dahmer allusion!). Corporations using their power to police our conduct, including exercising of First Amendment rights in tasteless fashions if we choose, is a real threat to democracy, unlike the Democratic Party’s theory that the threat is any party other than theirs running the national and state governments.

I’m officially suggesting a mass Dahmer dress-up for Halloween, not to glorify violent acts (and since when have Halloween monster costumes been considered “glorification”?) but to glorify free will, freedom of expression, and the need for corporations to stay in their lane and provide goods and services without telling us how to think, speak, live or say “Boo!”


9 thoughts on “Halloween Ethics And The Right To Bad Taste

  1. As a teenager I often used the “I am a serial killer, they look like everyone else” when asked where was my costume…generic no particular one.

  2. I remember one time in the late 1990’s that I dressed up as an Arab terrorist. Chillingly, 9-11 happened just a few years afterward.

    I can’t imagine the blowback dressing up like that these days would create from the Left.

  3. So, eBay doesn’t allow listings that glorify violence? That’s a very principled stance, for which they should be lauded. Think of all the revenue they are foregoing by banning listings for video games, horror and action movies, comic books, rap and hip-hop music, and all the assorted merchandise that goes with those things…

    That’s what really impresses me about these giant tech companies: the rock-solid consistency with which they enforce their clear, well-defined, non-arbitrary rules. It doesn’t matter how much money is involved, they stand on their convictions and enforce the rules equally across the board, whether you’re a tiny one-man costume shop or Jay-Z. Can you imagine how awful some of these platforms would be if they only enforced their rules based on whether or not there was a public outcry over an issue, even if it was only coming from a tiny minority of perpetually-offended crybabies? What a clown show that would be…

  4. When I was a kid, back before electricity, only kids dressed up in costumes for Halloween. The parents stayed at home and handed out candy to the little kids in the neighborhood who came to their door. Once you were a teenager and not a kid anymore, you didn’t even go out trick or treating. It was in the ’80s that I first noticed adults wanting to wear Halloween costumes, to work, of all places, during work hours!

    And being a very devout Catholic, my mother was not very big on Halloween as she considered it her duty as a Catholic to consider Halloween nothing more than a perversion of All Saints Day. Or more accurately, she considered Halloween a pagan observance that needed to be rooted out by observing All Saints Day. She made costumes for us to wear to school for All Saints Day. One year, she dyed the drapes she’d deemed too old dark brown and made them into a friar’s outfit. I think I was Saint William that year. Sort of a San Diego Padre.

    Anyway, adults spending time around Halloween in costume is the root of the problem. Grow up, folks.

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