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Friday, October 29, 2010

Government Gone Wild: Teenagers Banned from Trick-or-Treating in an Illinois Town

Mayor Mark Eckhert of Belleville Illinois believes the long arm of government should enact his father’s views regarding the age when kids are too old to trick-or-treat. The Mayor told ABC News “When I was a kid my father said to me, 'You're too damn big to be going trick-or-treating. You're done.’ When that doesn’t happen, then that’s the reason for the city governments to intervene.”(*) Therefore, if you are over the age of 12 and trick-or-treat in Belleville Illinois, you will be fined $100. It seems that other townships in several states are quickly following suit.

I understand the position of single mothers and senior citizens. It can be very frightening to have obnoxious teenagers ringing your doorbell, especially when it is dark outside. They could also be adults who can force their way in to rob the person’s home. It is often very difficult to tell just who it is underneath the costume.

Halloween never did much for me as a child and as an adult. I always ended up wrestling the shaving cream out of some punk kid’s hands who thought it was comical to douse people in shaving cream. My kids do not share my view; they absolutely love it, although they are rapidly approaching that “cut-off” age.

Nevertheless, in spite of my views and those who agree that high school kids are too old to be trick-or-treating; I absolutely abhor the idea of the government robbing people of their freedoms. In my neighborhood, there are subdivisions that get so into the day, the intensity of the decorations rivals Christmas. Adults dress in costumes to greet the trick-or-treaters. There are mobs of kids of all ages having a good time and not causing any trouble.

When the long arm of government reaches in, there is great loss of individual freedom. If you detest Halloween; then close up your house, and don’t answer the door. It might be a good day to catch up on all of those errands in which you’ve been procrastinating. It is one’s right to dismiss the day. Nervous single mothers and senior citizens may decide who they open their door to on an individual basis. Those who love the day can go all out. The bottom line is FREEDOM.

Why do some people’s viewpoints trump others and prevail because one is in a position of power to make their views law? The argument always goes back to safety. The news will report on the poor old lady who was robbed for opening her door to who she thought were innocent trick-or-treaters. Playing on the people’s raw emotions of outrage, the knee-jerk reaction is to support such a ban. The truth is people’s homes are robbed every single day. Therefore, people who never outgrow Halloween and wish to do no harm have to surrender their right to celebrate.

I quote Benjamin Franklin: “Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.” The magnitude of the erosion of people’s liberties ranges from minor incidents such as Halloween ordinances all the way up to the Patriot Act.


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