Politics, Moderate



The dying art of Halloween costume humor

Tom Purcell on

Look, satire is a powerful way to ridicule, in a humorous manner, who and what are wrong and ugly or hateful in our society.

A biting, satirical joke — or a wacky Halloween costume — can cut to the heart of the matter better than a direct criticism of a government policy.

Satire is the centerpiece of a healthy and truly free society, but it is now considered unfashionable by entities that are more worried about offending someone than they are about encouraging our freedom to think, question, speak and express ourselves honestly and openly.

In other words, it’s now in bad taste in America to not do exactly what the government tells you to do or to question overzealous government health policies, such as lockdowns and mandates.

Sorry, but where covid is concerned, I think some “bad taste” — or gallows humor — is warranted.

Merriam-Webster defines gallows humor as “humor that makes fun of a life-threatening, disastrous or terrifying situation.”

That is, it diffuses our tension and fear in our very worst moments and mocks death, evil and suffering — giving us the strength to fight on.

Comedian Joan Rivers once said about tragedies she suffered, “If you can laugh at it, you can deal with it.”

But in today’s bi-polarized society, regrettably, half of us believe in freedom of thought, speech and expression — and the benefit of satirical Halloween costumes that may sometimes offend.


The other half are so terrified that something we say or do may slight someone, we are fearful of poking fun or even chuckling at anything amusing.

I can understand the desire to avoid a Halloween costume that might offend your boss and cost you your job.

But I’m afraid our once raucous and robust American sense of humor is slowly dying.

To me, there are few things scarier than that this Halloween.


Copyright 2023 Tom Purcell, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Purcell, creator of the infotainment site ThurbersTail.com, which features pet advice he’s learning from his beloved Labrador, Thurber, is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist. Email him at Tom@TomPurcell.com.

Copyright 2023 Tom Purcell, All Rights Reserved. Credit: Cagle.com




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