Halloween Hell

When Clowning Around Becomes Deadly
Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

Of the most common phobias in existence, arachnophobia and agoraphobia are usually the ones most frequently mentioned. Coulrophobia fails to be put in this category of more “glamourous” phobias, yet is finally having its moment to shine and wreak its own havoc. Coulrophobia is the pathological fear of clowns, not a fancy vegan dessert as many have thought previously. This annoyingly vague medical term does not begin to articulate the sheer panic that the appearance of “killer clowns” has sparked. While it isn’t a sudden development that clowns aren’t regarded as warmly as other costumed persons, such as the Disney Princesses or Santa, never to this degree have they terrorized so many people.

The root of the hysteria flooding across the nation began with reports of clowns lurking near an apartment complex in South Carolina, luring children into the woods and chasing them with knives. The issue then escalated and spread to the East Coast, with groups posting school shooting threats to social media. This unusually terrifying situation has put New Jersey and Chatham residents on edge . The previously indestructible Chatham bubble has finally been popped, allowing this plague of clown-related hysteria to seep in. Though Halloween in Chatham has never been for the faint hearted, it's even worse this year. “I don’t feel safe this Halloween,” says sophomore Skylar Redgate. “They’re freaking scary!!” While there have been no reports of clown sightings in Chatham, measures have been taken to ensure safety for all residents. For instance, high school principal Darren Groh issued a statement before this past Cougar Weekend in which he banned clown costumes and masks at both sporting events and the high school.

The main argument seems to be whether or not these “creepy clowns” pose a genuine threat. Some people think the clowns are merely bluffing and should be ignored; crime savvy sophomore Kaitlin Pinaire, however, is not taking any chances. “To be honest, this is a real threat, and I’m taking it seriously,” states Pinaire.

Sophomore Julia Lin resides on the opposite side of this debate, with genuine sympathy for the moral clowns out there. “Before this, clowns were seen as fun, though slightly weird. This has given them the worst reputation.” She brings up a relevant point, though she isn’t backed by many of her classmates. To a strange and select few, clowns are nostalgic and lovable: classic characters featured in birthday parties and circuses. People's growing distrust and fear of them have no doubt decreased their event bookings, which is their main source of income.

In an additional ironic twist, the residents who have been least affected by this development stem from the younger generation, specifically middle schoolers. This year’s Cougar Night saw its own clown scare at the hands of an unnamed seventh grade boy. While his antics were seen by some as an immature lapse of judgement, his peers got quite a kick out of it. One anonymous sixth grader regards this boy as a “total legend” who “was kinda like, hey, I should do something, it’ll be funny, and just did it”. He states that the majority of his classmates do not fear these clowns and are making light of the situation that has their older neighbors paralyzed. In fact, he thinks that “the police who saw him, took it a little too far and suspending him was pretty stupid. He should have just gotten a detention.” He goes on to say that he feels zero apprehension about going out on Halloween night because “I’ll be walking around with my friends and there will be other people trick-or-treating. So, it’s basically a one out of a hundred chance that I will be attacked by one of them.”

Whether the threat of predatory clowns is legitimate or not, everyone should be aware of the possible danger of clowns, and stay safe this upcoming holiday season. Whether that means staying home, traveling in groups, or purchasing a Costco-sized bottle of mace, simply do what you need to do to get through the rest of this traumatizing season.