Published in the October 27, 2016 edition.




Halloween is Monday, and that means this would be a good  weekend to stay home and avoid the throngs of giddy Deadpool and Wonder Woman wannabes clogging the roads and liquor stores as they head out to party with dozens of Donalds, hordes of Hillarys and assorted other creepy clowns.

Gone are the days when a bed sheet with a couple of eye holes sufficed as an acceptable ghost costume. The coolest people today are dressing up as figures from politics, pop culture and entertainment – especially as superheroes.

But that doesn’t mean anything goes.

Today’s politically correct climate has somewhat limited the available costume options. It would be insensitive, for example, to dress up as an American Indian – or an American anything, for that matter.

Remember when Halloween presented an opportunity for adults to take a break from the boundaries of good taste and have some good old-fashioned fun dressing up as whatever tickled their fancy? Well, those days are gone, thanks to the thought police, who are now everywhere ready to wag the finger of shame.

You might get away with a costume that includes a cowboy hat. But wear a sombrero and you can expect a call from the Human Rights Commission.

At our state’s flagship public university campus in Amherst, a flyer is reportedly being circulated to help UMass students determine if their costume is racist or likely to offend some person or group. Because clearly we are no longer capable of deciphering our own intentions and need a rubric to tell us if we’ve crossed a line we never knew existed.

USA Today recently published a list of 2016’s most popular Halloween costumes for kids and adults. For kids, the most popular costumes include Batman. (Surely they meant to say “Batperson.”)

Superhero costumes are extremely popular with kids this year, according to USA Today. A strong female character like Wonder Woman, they report, is a top choice this year for girls.

Only for girls? How heteronormative. Surely there is also an opportunity for boys to explore the wonders of their inner Wonder Woman.

Like so much else in today’s world, Halloween isn’t the simple, fun event it once was.

Many of us remember when our parents allowed us to go out trick-or-treating on Halloween night with our siblings or friends without any adult supervision. Now, wary parents hover on the sidewalk as their kids approach homes in their own neighborhoods.

It’s sad, but who can blame them?

And it’s only going to get worse.

If Question 4 passes, next year parents will also have to think about the THC content of the treats that land in their kids’ trick or treat bags. Remember when the only thing you had to worry about was a razor blade in a Milky Way?

Those were the good old days.