ACLU, Holidays and Seasons

The Scarlet Pumpkin

Scarlet Pumpkin Sign.jpgTrue story: when I was 8-years-old living on Long Island I went trick-or-treating with my friends without adult supervision. On the way home, my bag full of goodies, I got jumped by a group of older kids. My “friends” were busy running away while I tried to “reason” with the bullies. Sensing the these boys were not going to listen to rational arguments I took my faux briefcase (I was going as Ted Kennedy) and knocked one of the bullies right on the temple. Unfortunately, they were many and I was 8. No candy for me that Halloween.

Since then, I’ve always considered it amazingly stupid for parents to let their kids gambol through the night unattended. It’s a pagan holiday and bad stuff can happen.

If more parents followed this basic safety tip, the sign to the right would not be necessary. Our friend at f/k/a explains:

[It’s] the sign that sex offenders must display at their homes in Maryland this Halloween. According to the Times, the bright orange pumpkin is the symbol sex offenders “are required to post on their doors with a warning, in capital letters, to trick-or-treaters: ‘No candy at this residence’.” In addition to posting the sign, the offenders must stay at home, turn off outside lights and not answer the door. Some states prohibit sex offenders from decorating the outside of their homes. But, Maryland is mandating this colorful and “attractive” Halloween decoration.

I’m sure many people can appreciate the practicality of not having your kids sidle up to a convicted sex offender’s house on All Hallows Eve. But should people who have ostensibly “paid their debt” to society be forced to decorate their house because some idiot child might come around begging for food?

More analysis after the jump.

Apparently the signs were mailed out to sex offenders with this message from Parole Director Patrick McGee:

Halloween provides a rare opportunity for you to demonstrate to your neighbors that you are making a sincere effort to change the direction of your life.

An “opportunity?” Maybe the language was couched in that way because there is no law or statute requiring sex offenders to post the sign. This is a rule concocted out of thin air by the Maryland Division of Parole and Probation. f/k/a points out:

At the website of the Maryland Department of Public Safety’s Division of Parole and Probation, I could find no mention at all of the Halloween parole restrictions, nor of the pamphlet for families. It is especially appalling that the Division has acted on its own — with no statutory mandate — to initiate a program that is likely to target sex offender homes, on Halloween and thereafter, for pranks, mischief, and possibly violence. The rule will make it harder, not easier, for the sex offender to “change the direction” of his or her life, and rejoin society, and will surely make life tougher for any family members who live with the sex offender.

I imagine liberals would find some obvious civil liberties problem with this. But do conservatives really think that this is the proper role of a “small government,” regulating what kinds of Halloween decorations certain citizens must use?

As with many things involving children, the easy non-governmental fix seems to rest with the parents. Trick-or-treat with your kids, candy and good touches for all.

Maryland Halloween Sign Targets Sex Offenders [f/k/a]

Pumpkin symbol marks sex offenders’ homes [Washington Times]

(hidden for your protection)

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