Happy Halloween! 'Tis the time for hauntingly bad takes on public safety, extra paranoid policing, and all manners of moral panics. Which makes it our October 31 duty to put out a few very important reminders of our own…
1. Your kid's candy is fine. No one is going to waste their edibles on some strange children, no matter how many sheriff's departments put out panicky warnings about it. The same goes for meth and whatever other illicit substance police are pushing fear about to parents across America. The most menacing thing in trick-or-treat bounties is and always has been sugar.
2. Sex crimes aren't especially likely tonight. In many places, police take extra measures to warn people about local residents who are on probation for sex crimes. Even though many of these people were placed on the sex offender registration for nothing to do with kids (and sometimes nothing to do with anything we'd think of as a sex crime); sex offenders have lower recidivism rates than other types of offenders; and sex offenders already face extreme restrictions on where they can work and be, the police often pretend that Halloween is an especially busy time for child predators and that extra precautions must be taken to prevent that.
In Grovetown, Georgia, the mayor recently posted to Facebook: "In order to ensure the safety of our children, all sex offenders (on probation) in the City of Grovetown will be housed in the county chambers on Halloween night for three hours." In many other counties, anyone on the sex offender registry will be identified on a map publicized by local news outlets or have signs posted to their doors.
But when it comes to sex crimes, child abductions, or anything like that spiking on Halloween, "no evidence of such a phenomenon exists," writes Lenore Skenazy, who has had to debunk this time and again. Even USA Today notes:
There is no hard evidence that proves children are more vulnerable to sexual predators on Halloween than any other night of the year, but the National Safety Council reports children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than any other day. Critics believe resources are be better served tackling that rather than going after the sex offenders.
3. Creepy clowns are almost always a hoax. (I say almost to hedge my bets here; it is Halloween, after all, and I've seen It. I'm not taking any chances.)
4. Small-town authoritarians will find any reason to exert control. From making it a crime to trick-or-treat if older than age 12 to banning clown costumes, local officials love flexing their power pointlessly around October 31. In Belleville, Illinois, for instance, "it's illegal to trick-or-treat beyond the eighth grade. Violation of that rule is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000." And "Forsyth, outside Decatur, has one of the most unique and harsh restrictions in the state. Those trick-or-treating in the Macon County village should beware: Police can slap you with a fine of up to $750 if you 'approach' a house that doesn't have its porch light on."
- Caption contest?
- Sure, statists are spooky and both Democrats and Republicans give us the chills. But if you're looking for less mundane frights tonight, tune out of Twitter and TV news and fire up Netflix for The Haunting of Hill House (reviewed by Peter Suderman here) or Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (a dark and twisted take on comic-book turned '90s sitcom Sabrina the Teenage Witch).
- Mongolia bans Halloween in schools.
- Russian officials are also keen on banning Halloween celebrations.
- Kanye's MAGA phase was short-lived:
My eyes are now wide open and now realize I've been used to spread messages I don't believe in. I am distancing myself from politics and completely focusing on being creative !!!
— ye (@kanyewest) October 30, 2018
- Don't call the Niskanen Center libertarian.
- Interior Department secretary Ryan Zinke has been referred to the Justice Department for investigation into his alleged corruption.
- Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill has taken up Trumpian talking points on immigration, border security, and the migrant caravan. McCaskill's senate seat is in jeopardy, with Republican state Attorney General Josh Hawley leading in polls.