U. Mass. Amherst creates “scream meter” to measure levels of offensiveness of Halloween costumes

This is how far it’s gone. As Business Insider and Campus Reform report, the Halloween Costume Police have gotten out of hand, and of course it’s at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where they simply cannot let people be adults and make their own decisions. Both articles appear to be the same, so I’ll just reproduce some of the text and the S.C.R.E.A.M. meter:

The University of Massachusetts, Amherst is posting “cultural appropriation” posters in each of the residence halls on campus featuring a detailed “racism evaluation and assessment meter.”

The initiative is being spearheaded by the Center for Women and Community, the Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success, and the campus’ diversity office, the Stonewall Center.

“Don’t be an asshole,” one display urges students, providing several leaflets to help them understand the effects of cultural appropriation.

The board also includes a poster to help measure the “threat level” of a potential costume using what it calls the “Simple Costume Racism Evaluation and Assessment Meter” (S.C.R.E.A.M.) which poses several costume-related questions, the answers to which take one to various points on a “threat meter” that ranges from green (low) to red (severe).

If one intends to represent a person on Halloween, the only way to get a “green” threat rating is for the person to be of one’s own race. If one represents a person of another race, the “threat level” increases roughly in conjunction with the amount of makeup that one intends to use.

Even representing a “thing/idea” is dangerous, though, the flyer says, warning against costumes that can only be understood in the context of “controversial current events or historically accepted cliches,” particularly if “these events or cliches relate to a person or people not of your race.”

But if “race” is a social construct, what, exactly, do they mean by “people not of your race”? Are Hispanics of a different race from Native Americans, or Caucasians?  If “race” means “ethnic group”, is it now not okay (as it used to be) to “punch up”, so that a black can’t dress as Batman, or an Asian as the Wizard of Oz’s Scarecrow? But the “offense meter” below indicates that you can’t wear costumes representing anyone “less powerful” or “more socially marginalized” than yourself, so one would have to have some hierarchy of oppression laid out to decide if your costume was inappropriate. As we know, the hierarchy of oppression is constantly under revision.

Here’s the S.C.R.E.A.M. meter, which you can enlarge and read for yourself.


More from Business Insider:

Another display on a different bulletin board asserts that “cultural appropriation is an act of privilege, and leads to offensive, inaccurate, and stereotypical portrayals of other people’s culture.”

It then goes on to outline steps that students can take to inform their peers if a costume may be considered inappropriate or offensive, using Native American costumes as the prime example.

“No, it’s cool, it’s not like your ancestors killed them all or anything,” reads one flyer alongside a cartoon of two white women in headdresses. “Hypersexualized racism…is still racism,” states another flyer featuring pictures of women dressed in “sexy Indian” costumes.

Here are those:



To be fair, there is one poster—just one—that says this:

“It’s not fair to ask any culture to freeze itself in time and live as though they were a museum diorama,” one poster quotes author Susan Scafidi. “Cultural appropriation can sometimes be the savior of a cultural product that has faded away.”

Indeed, and that undercuts much of the other messages, for many of the cultural products that have largely faded away, like Native American costumes or kimonos, are being admired, not mocked, by many kids who wear them. Further, cultural appropriation can not only preserve disappearing cultural elements, but can express admiration for the admirable parts of other cultures. What is good about America is how the various people who immigrated here have cross-pollinated each other’s cultures, something that is of course not unique to our country but especially noticeable here. So when someone claims “offense” if you’ve culturally appropriated something you like—perhaps because you don’t have a detailed awareness of what that culture has suffered—my response would be “go away.”

Now I’m not saying that no costumes are offensive, for some surely are. Blackface, for example, has bad historical connections with racism. What I dislike about these campus-wide efforts is the policing involved: one group takes it upon itself to arbitrate or censor the costumes of everyone else. It’s simply leisure fascism, and students, who after all are adults living in this world, can learn these lessons on their own—the process is called “growing up”—rather than being subject to arrogant and hectoring propagandizing by student Pecksniffs who flaunt their moral purity.

So although some Asians claim that they are a marginalized and oppressed group in the U.S., I’d have no patience for someone calling out a little girl, or a student, wearing a Princess Mononoke costume. We don’t have to accept (as U. Mass. apparently has) the dicta of groups like the Amherst Leisure Police, who succeed only out of liberal’s desperate fear of being called racists.

h/t: G. B. James


  1. eric
    Posted October 25, 2016 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Multiple thoughts here.

    1. That first poster looks like satire to me.

    2. Even if serious, I could see it causing a Streisand Effect. Students who don’t appreciate being told what to wear can now copy that red “SEVERE” rectangle and stick it onto their other-culture costumes for added emphasis.

    3. Use their own recommended solution against them. Address the “problem” of other-culture costumes by posting a sign outside your Halloween gathering with “Trigger warning: severe SCREAM costumes inside.” Problem solved! 🙂

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted October 25, 2016 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

      I do like your #2!



  2. Kevin
    Posted October 25, 2016 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    Craziness. If I were to wear a Native American costume it would be with pride and sadness to be reminded what Catholic conquerers did.

    Amherst may actually look like its crawling with Gestapo on Halloween night, and those people will not be wearing costumes.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted October 25, 2016 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

      How about dressing up as a Gestapo agent, with a Stonewall Center armband?


  3. Gareth
    Posted October 25, 2016 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    People actually complained about a Princess Mononoke outfit?
    There again the Anglophone world does seem to weirdly exoticise Japanese cartoons, so I guess anything is possible.

    • Posted October 25, 2016 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

      What the Left call ‘cultural appropriation’, Japan calls ‘export’.

      A lot of Japanese cartoons are sexualised. They were often bowdlerised for the West but the sexual content was always preset. The villain of the 70s cartoon Battle of the Planets (Science Ninja Team Gatchaman) was transgender.

      • eric
        Posted October 26, 2016 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

        And for Star Blazers (originally, Space Battleship Yamato) the English translation had to tone down the fact that one of the characters is a raging alcoholic. They couldn’t entirely whitewash it, though, because a fairly regular occurrence was the guy making a plot-critical mistake because he was drunk.

        Which has nothing to do with Halloween or cultural costumes, but everything to do with the fact that US still has a lot of sour-faced puritans.

  4. Posted October 25, 2016 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    It makes me want to scream.

  5. Will G
    Posted October 25, 2016 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    No way. They did not just co-opt and repurpose the old Dubya Bush era Homeland Security Threat Spectrum for their poster.

    Remember that thing? DHS got rid of it because it was generally useless, the criteria for issuing a new color was always vague, and it was prone to being manipulated to keep a steady buzz of fear going. Now (supposedly) liberal school administrators are using it to prime their campuses for moral panic.

    I’m calling out UMass-Amherst for cultural appropriation. The Threat Level Monitor belongs to Tom Ridge and decade-old comedy routines, and they have no right to use it for their own self-parody.

    • eric
      Posted October 25, 2016 at 11:52 am | Permalink

      Back when it first appeared, a friend of mine cynically referred to it as “the rainbow of fear.” 🙂

  6. docbill1351
    Posted October 25, 2016 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Personally, I’m a YUGE fan of the Sexy Indian costume!

    Also, the Sexy Nurse, Sexy Cop, Sexy French Maid, Sexy Bigfoot … well, you get the drift.

    Want a Walnetto?

    • Francisco
      Posted October 26, 2016 at 1:14 am | Permalink

      Nurse, cop, maid: profession
      Big foot: mythical being
      Native American:an ethnic group being “celebrated” only during Haloween for the sexy costume.
      Come on Jerry, come on DocBill, where is your empathy?

  7. Posted October 25, 2016 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Thank you for your regular doses of sanity. I’m really happy my universities studies were over twenty years ago.

  8. DrBrydon
    Posted October 25, 2016 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    I’d just go as a clown. No one has an issue with clowns, right?

    I am annoyed in particular about the equation of “offense” with “threat”, since a true threat would allow the University and law enforcement to intervene. I’d like to know what the statement that wearing severely offensive costumes is “guaranteed to offend” people, and “will likely lead to real implications for yourself and/or others.” Does that mean disciplinary action?

    Frankly, given the natural contrariness of many young adults, I would think campaigns like this would lead to a greater number of offensive costumes.

  9. Posted October 25, 2016 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    What’s old is new again. This is segregation, pure and simple. Stay with your kind, or else.

  10. Posted October 25, 2016 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    Over at How to be a Stoic, Pigliucci has a good take (or takedown) on all this: https://howtobeastoic.wordpress.com/2016/10/25/stoicism-and-social-justice/

  11. jeffery
    Posted October 25, 2016 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    I am deeply offended and emotionally traumatized by the use of the word, “asshole” on a display in a public place; who do I file a formal complaint with?

  12. E.A. Blair
    Posted October 25, 2016 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    <blockquote"… the only way to get a “green” threat rating is for the person to be of one’s own race. If one represents a person of another race, the “threat level” increases roughly in conjunction with the amount of makeup that one intends to use."Well, that leaves out anybody going out as a Klingon, hobbit, Na’vi, Vulcan, predator or any other non-human science fiction or fantasy character. Does this extend to animals? Is being a Furry considered cultural appropriation? What about mythological characters? If my date dresses up as a dryad and I go as a caveman, who’s around to object? Last year, I went out clubbing with a female man dressed as an F-to-M transvestite. Was she crossing the line?

    First they banned trick-or-treating at night. Next, costume parties are going to be beyond the pale. Anybody born in the 1980s or later will never know how much fun Hallowe’en is supposed to be.

    • Robert Seidel
      Posted October 25, 2016 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

      > Is being a Furry considered cultural appropriation? What about mythological characters?

      I guess that’s ok as long as it’s animals or myths from your own culture. No kangaroo unless you’re an Aboriginal, no zombie unless you’re Afro-Caribbean, etc.

  13. Posted October 25, 2016 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    I agree there are costumes that should probably be condemned. (I think one can make a case that Gestapo or Cheka or the like would be out.)

    But I don’t know how to tell who is allowed to wear what on this. If someone has Hispanic, Northern European and Native American (which group?) background, as a fair number of Americans from (say) California or Arizona may well, are they allowed to claim from all? Can they mix and match? Or are the “identities” intersecting rather than disjoining, so they have to dress (if at all) as another such mix? Etc.

    • Posted October 25, 2016 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      “But I don’t know how to tell who is allowed to wear what on this.”

      I think the makeup boxes makes it clear that it’s all about skin color, and facial features rather than background.

    • Diane G.
      Posted October 25, 2016 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

      Aim for a chimera, from as many zygotes as possible.

  14. Diana MacPherson
    Posted October 25, 2016 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    I can’t help but notice that the one poster glosses over the sexualization in general of the costumes. Sexism is okay (costumes available to women often have a sexy theme) but not racist sexism.

    • DrBrydon
      Posted October 25, 2016 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      Yes, that what was I thought as well. Sexy Indian bad, sexy Pilgrim good.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted October 25, 2016 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

        ‘sexy Pilgrim’ sounds like the ultimate oxymoron to me.


    • eric
      Posted October 25, 2016 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

      Re: cultural push for sexy costumes. For me it’s not so much their presence that says sexism but their overwhelming presence. And the fact that ‘overwhelming presence’ isn’t just a Halloween thing, its pretty much part of our culture. So okay sure, I buy that a sexy costume for an adult can be fun and not sexist…but when I go into a store and see that a majority of costumes are ‘sexy’, and are being marketed to young teens, that’s not just ‘fun,’ its really disturbing. I turn on a rock n’ roll station with my kid in the car, and become acutely aware that probably 80-90% of rock songs have some reference to sex in them. Sure I like the music, but holy cow, write about something else once in a while. TV, movies, its everywhere. A constant barrage. A really annoying constant barrage. Its enough to make me start actually liking my kid’s music, and believe me, that’s not a place you want to be.

      Okay, that’s my ‘get off my lawn!’ thought for the day.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted October 25, 2016 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

        Agreed and the parents of female children I know are often appalled at the lack of choice for costumes that aren’t sexy or even clothes for kids that aren’t way more sexually mature than they should be for kids.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted October 25, 2016 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

        Hell, this keeps up, sooner or later the whippersnappers’ll be singing that they can’t get no satisfaction!

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted October 25, 2016 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

        If it don’t upset the olds with its sexual content, it ain’t rock ‘n’ roll, daddy-o.

        Been that way ever since white kids started listening to “race music.” Since before Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley, since before Elvis swiveled his pelvis.

        • Diane G.
          Posted October 25, 2016 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

          Good Golly Miss Molly…

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted October 25, 2016 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

            Yeah, Little Richard, too.

          • Posted October 26, 2016 at 11:27 am | Permalink

            My grade 6 teacher used to quote that – I suspect that my classmate with the name might not know have known much about it. (This was long before anyone could google the lyrics, too.)

            • Diane G.
              Posted October 26, 2016 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

              Well, it is a catchy line. 😀

              Shows how closely some of us pay attention to lyrics. (I had to have a boyfriend point out the second line to me.)

        • eric
          Posted October 25, 2016 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

          Well your Stones reference is a great example of the problem, IMO. Making sexual references in song isn’t rebellious any more, and really hasn’t been since the ’50s and ’60s. Its like big hair rock in the ’80s – a faux rebellion pushed by corporations because it sells. Pretty much exactly the opposite of what rock is supposed to be.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted October 25, 2016 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

            Kids have no historical consciousness of what went down in the Fifties and Sixties (or in the Seventies or Eighties or Nineties). Every new generation of adolescents thinks they’re inventing sex, thinks they cornering the market on cool. And popular music’s their voice and their muse.

            When American teens stop rebelling with sex & rock ‘n’ roll, America won’t be America anymore.

            So suck it up, Pops, crank up the car radio, and get used to the notion you’ll have some sleepless nights ’cause of the kids. 🙂

            • somer
              Posted October 26, 2016 at 5:24 am | Permalink

              I don’t see that its great pushed at young teens – especially dress up costumes that are all highly sexualised. Media gets more all pervasive with time not less – at the same time as kids are ever more mobile and subject to peer pressure – and feel Pressured to act sexually or be considered uncool, frigid etc. – thats a pressure they don’t need to feel everwhere. Thats my thought. Tough tits.

              • somer
                Posted October 26, 2016 at 5:30 am | Permalink

                PS I’m a huge fan of rock but I just don’t accept any kind of cultural milieu should be used to elicit blanket acceptance at all times. Most of the lyrics emphasise a certain culture and stereotypes and excludes plenty of aspirations. I just tune out the lyrics unless they are grossly offensive then I don’t listen to the stuff.

            • somer
              Posted October 26, 2016 at 6:03 am | Permalink

              Also the media milieu is so much broader now as I was saying – online sexting, sexual and other bullying – that can reach any time any where on the internet on any device, or even “friends” posting things on another device ostensibly in their name when their back is turned. Or Zuckerbergs charming comment that theres no such thing as privacy any more – young people are particularly under pressure as they enter teens and have to embark on decisions affecting their lives in big ways. They are the ones getting messages about their bodies and their identity at a time when the world has never been so complicated. And they are expected to be more mobile and are told they have to be with their peers all the time, and be putty adapting to change and super extrovert in adaptable teams to succeed at anything (as we are told by “experts” all the time).

              Look at the epidemic of body image crises – anorexia or body building extremes. So its fair enough that kids (both genders) get reassurance that its OK indeed good to push back on messages they don’t want/ aren’t interested in unless its something necessary to avoid causing real harm in society.

              • Diane G.
                Posted October 26, 2016 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

                We could not possibly be more on the same page! Thanks for going into some of the details I only implied in my earlier, much shorter (though quite similar) post, below!

      • Mike
        Posted October 25, 2016 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

        It’s the constant reference to coffee drinking that gets me. We all know it goes on, for heaven’s sake, but do they have to be so explicit?

        Coffee grinding, french press, crema even! It’s disgusting.

      • Diane G.
        Posted October 26, 2016 at 1:47 am | Permalink

        I know what you’re saying, Eric, and felt the same way raising my kids. Despite what Ken says, the situation IS different now; for one thing, everything is available with the click of a mouse or swipe of a screen. It’s not about being a prudish parent, it’s about not being saturated with one message only; from the cradle on, it sometimes seems.

        You mention young teens, and the important thing about that age is that they’re all over the map in terms of maturity, critical and abstract thinking skills, etc. This isn’t really the time we want our daughters pressured to sext, or our sons to be the pressurers, to mention just one modern issue. (Come to think of it, there isn’t any time I’d want that. 😀 ) It’s a time when a lot of girls are becoming very self-conscious about their bodies which can result in life-long damaging physical and mental disorders. It’s when boys and girls are somewhere between childhood and adulthood and vaulting from one mindset to the other sometimes several times a day.

        Sometimes the best you can do is just be aware of what they’re being exposed to, and deal with the many “teachable moments” provided by the constant barrage of “adult” material they’ll have to deal with despite your best efforts. I’m sure you’re doing fine, but I do know what you’re talking about. I used to be quite saddened to go to the middle school Halloween festival and see so many girls in costumes that you might have expected only Britney Spears would wear. (That’ll tell you when my daughter was in middle school. 😀 )

        (Ken, if you’re reading this–rock ‘n’ roll was the least of my worries. 😉 )

        • eric
          Posted October 26, 2016 at 7:35 am | Permalink

          Re: music, I think what’s happened is that my kid has made me aware of the sheer repetitiveness of the theme, and so now even when he’s not around I can’t enjoy it as much any more. Okay you’re singing about sex. Wow, how original. Ken is probably right that every new generation thinks they’ve invented sex talk and sexual innuendo, but it also seems to me that there’s a vicious cycle about it. Pre-teens hear it, and they think its normal. So as they grow up to be teens, that’s what they want to hear. And as they grow into being musicians, that’s what they think normal rock musicians write. So they write it, setting up the next generation to do the same. But I think playing a wider variety of themed music may short-circuit the process, setting your kid(s) up for future musical preferences that, in turn, are wider than just wanting to hear three chords and a bass beat about screwing.

          • Diane G.
            Posted October 26, 2016 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

            Pretty much!

            Just be glad they’re not into rap–or are they?

            *Bracing for indignant supporters of rap response.*

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted October 26, 2016 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

            So, umm, Romeo and Juliet wasn’t about sex? Hamlet? Canterbury Tales?

            Since when has litterachoor and moosic *not* been about sex?


            • somer
              Posted October 26, 2016 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

              the lyrics were a bit more complex tho 🌽

              • somer
                Posted October 26, 2016 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

                Im being a bit facetious! 😌😀

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted October 27, 2016 at 1:08 am | Permalink

                facetious is OK 🙂


            • Diane G.
              Posted October 26, 2016 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

              Ah, c’mon ii, isn’t that a little strawman-ish? Poor Eric.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted October 27, 2016 at 1:13 am | Permalink

                Not really. I just named the first three bits of ancient literature that came to mind.

                Quite seriously, for extensive periods of history (punctuated occasionally by spasms of Puritanism), theatre and songs have been extremely bawdy.


            • Ken Kukec
              Posted October 27, 2016 at 9:52 am | Permalink

              “Sex & wine & un-rhymed iambic-pentameter.”

              It’s not as catchy as Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll. But, hey, you go with the transgressions you have, not the transgressions you wish you had.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted October 28, 2016 at 2:15 am | Permalink

                A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
                A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread–and Thou
                Beside me singing in the Wilderness–
                Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted October 26, 2016 at 9:28 am | Permalink

          Yeah, I’m reading this, Diane — and don’t I feel like the louche parental unit compared to you and Eric. 🙂

          Guess I’ll go down as the Ian Dury of progenitors.

          • eric
            Posted October 26, 2016 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

            Keep in mind the reason it annoys me is that I don’t want to keep my kid out of the cultural mainstream. I want to get in the car, turn on the radio, and have him enjoy the music with me. I’m not really grumping about ‘music these days’ or whatever. I recognize his tastes are going to be different from mine, and I don’t need to be the kind of parent who forces him to listen to ‘my’ music rather than the stuff he wants. But at the same time, I don’t really want to get in the car, turn on the radio, and listen to my five year old sing about having a three way. Okay, finger successfully wagged now for two days in a row. 🙂

          • Diane G.
            Posted October 26, 2016 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

            Guess so.


            Actually, that was pretty tame, but I’m sure I’m missing some references. And I think your average hip early teen would get the parody just fine.

            (And I’m also sure your kids were very lucky to have you.)

    • Posted October 25, 2016 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

      I think I sense misogyny in posters No. 2 and 3. Even if I am just imagining it, I think some feminists on campus could make a case and counter-attack.

  15. Heather Hastie
    Posted October 25, 2016 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    If you’re of German or Austrian ancestry, it would be perfectly acceptable to dress as Hitler, according to this chart.

    That’s fairly ironic given the fascism inherent in the SCREAM meter.

    • GBJames
      Posted October 25, 2016 at 12:11 pm | Permalink


    • Anthony
      Posted October 25, 2016 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

      Damn! You beat me to it – I had the exact same comment in mind. I’m slavic though, so I guess I’d have to go as Stalin to avoid offending any Germans.

      But what if someone wanted to go as Obama? He’s equal parts white and black. Somehow I feel this scream meter would unfairly penalize a white person going as Obama.

      And what of my poor cat Kosmos? She permanently looks like Hitler! Well at least she is Bavarian.

      Screen Shot 2016-10-25 at 10.35.11 AM

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted October 25, 2016 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

        There were people in all the countries that Hitler took over who joined the SS, so that option is always available!

      • E.A. Blair
        Posted October 25, 2016 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

        That’s a cute little Kitler. Fortunately, they’re not as bad-tempered as the real one. Send her picture to the website Cats That Look Like Hitler.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted October 25, 2016 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

      Or if you’re generically white, I guess dressing up as a member of the KKK is okay too.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted October 25, 2016 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

      Oh yes! Invert the idea that eric had in his post #1, copy and enlarge the green box off the SCREAM poster and wear it with pride on your Nazi costume.

      Adolf Hitler, fully endorsed by the cultural mafia…


      • Heather Hastie
        Posted October 25, 2016 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

        Ha! Good idea!

  16. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted October 25, 2016 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Once our culture recovers our sense of how many cowboys in the 19th century were actually black, Jerry will have to stop wearing his boots. 🙂

    Incidentally (and more seriously), I regard the most defensible blackface to be Billy Crystal’s impersonations of a hypothetically turned-Jewish Mohammed Ali.
    Ali and Crystal were good personal friends, and Crystal did his impression (sans blackface I believe) at Ali’s memorial service.

  17. Denise
    Posted October 25, 2016 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    I think you hit the nail on the head about not letting them be adults. The problem is they’re adults in name only. Their parents still think they’re children, the school thinks they’re children, and they still think they’re children and want to be treated like children. They want to continue to exist in a cocoon of parental-like protection.

    Their cohorts who are not in college manage to live without being sheltered from microaggressions because there is no one to do the sheltering. College looks more and more like a place people go to avoid adulthood for four more years.

    • eric
      Posted October 25, 2016 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

      Um…they’re 18-21. Of course they’re adults in name only. I tend to be reasonably forgiving of college idiocy under the idea that they are essentially ‘practicing’ being adults, but don’t yet have it right.

      Having said that, I am completely on the side of letting the students pick their own costumes and (unfortunately) watching them fail miserably at socially acceptable costumes, rather than try and regulate or guide their choice to try and ensure its socially acceptable.

      • Richard
        Posted October 26, 2016 at 4:50 am | Permalink

        And yet other people in that age range serve in our countries’ armed forces, but somehow manage to avoid whining about micro-agressions and safe spaces whilst facing very real macro-agressions and unsafe spaces: e.g. being shot at by people who want to kill them, not just appropriate their culture for a night.

        The average age of British infantrymen is 20 – and they had to face the Taliban in Afghanistan. The age group with the most deaths amongst American soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq is 20 year-olds.

        • Diane G.
          Posted October 26, 2016 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

          But it is suggested that one of the reasons soldiering (and soldier-conscripting) does start out so early is that many young brains are still prone to impulsive behaviors and not yet capable of fully critical thinking.

    • Posted October 26, 2016 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

      That depends on the nature of your college. I notice that this PC madness infects Ivy League universities, where children of the rich and privileged can afford to go. I’ve seen no sign of it at community colleges and trade schools where the children of the working class can afford to go. Has anybody else noticed that social/economic classes have different cultures?

  18. Gregory Kusnick
    Posted October 25, 2016 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    OK, so what’s my SCREAM rating if I would feel comfortable having a picture of me in costume on national TV? Don’t keep us in suspense!

    • steve
      Posted October 26, 2016 at 4:11 am | Permalink

      My thoughts exactly.

      Also “Are you trying to be funny” only leads to “mocking” if you choose “yes”. Is that really the only way to try to be funny? Ever hear of sarcasm, irony etc, etc.

      What if I was an black woman and dressed up as Donald Trump, and had a sign that said “Trump Lies Matter”?

      What if I was a white guy and dressed up either as Chelsea Clinton, or Ivanka Trump, and had a sign that said “My mom/dad can beat up your mom/dad!!”?

  19. Posted October 25, 2016 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    I would print “scream” on a posterboard

    and let that be my costume

  20. Posted October 25, 2016 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Hypersexualused racism is the worst. You get blackface greasepaint all over the sheets.

    It’s okay to wear a Nazi uniform in bed though. Kink-shaming is a form of bigotry.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted October 25, 2016 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

      Just popping in to say that I like your moniker. I recall it is the name of a Kzin in the Ringworld novel.

      • Posted October 25, 2016 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

        Thanks. Only just realised it is especially appropriate for Prof Ceiling Cat’s site, Kzinti being feline.

      • Gregory Kusnick
        Posted October 25, 2016 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

        As I recall (if we’re comparing nerd credentials) it wasn’t actually his name; it was his job description. His low rank didn’t entitle him to a proper name (or a better job).

      • Mike
        Posted October 25, 2016 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

        Chmee I think?

        • darrelle
          Posted October 26, 2016 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

          Chmee came later after he had earned a name by participating in the 1st expedition to Ringworld and thereby earning the payment the Puppeteers had promised. He earned the name and the right to have children.

          Speaker To Animals was indeed his job description, which translates to ambassador.

  21. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted October 25, 2016 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    “It’s not like your ancestors killed them all or anything”

    Well, that is manifestly incorrect, and in any case if ‘our’ ancestors had killed them all there would be no-one left to be oppressed by Red Injun costumes.


    • steve
      Posted October 26, 2016 at 4:19 am | Permalink

      Actually it is manifestly correct as written.

      Oh. So we are allowed to be sarcastic then? What if I don’t understand sarcasm? Then that poster is just writing about a fact. But I thought we weren’t supposed to be sarcastic as that is offensive?

      It gets pretty complicated.

      I’ll just go as Harambe dressed as an evil clown.

  22. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted October 25, 2016 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    I think it’s a useful guide. Anyone contemplating a costume can check to make sure they rate a ‘red’. After all, what’s the point of Hallowe’en if you’re not making an impact?


  23. E.A. Blair
    Posted October 25, 2016 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    Modern Wiccans say that Samhain is the day when the veil between the physical and spirit world grows thin, and it’s the day when we can reach loved ones who have died.

    In modern secular terms, it’s the day when the veil between good taste and bad taste grows thin and it’s the day when we can get away with wearing any damned costume we like.

  24. Diane G.
    Posted October 25, 2016 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

    Fortunately no one has to worry about this stuff this year–they can all just go as Trump.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 25, 2016 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

      Oompa Loompa appropriation!

      • Diane G.
        Posted October 25, 2016 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

        Drat! You’re right!

    • eric
      Posted October 26, 2016 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      That’s punching orange!

      • Diane G.
        Posted October 26, 2016 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

        Ha ha!

        Somewhere Anita Bryant is rolling over in her grave.

        Come to think of it, going as Anita Bryant would also be pretty scary. Or Phyllis Schafly.

  25. somer
    Posted October 26, 2016 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    Halloween costumes on campus just sound like a massive bureaucratic migraine …. too many questions, too many legal issues for the politically intolerant. Why don’t they just be honest and say they are against costumes and do something else – except then they’d probably say a rock concert or any other option was culturally stereotyping and not representative of diversity.
    They are not pro diversity and minorities – they are just authoritarian

  26. Posted October 26, 2016 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    I’d recommend that disgusted students dress like SWAT cops in full riot gear — and carry functional (fully charged) stun-guns and tasers — and be prepared to use them if mobbed.

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