No issue is ever strictly black and white. Yes or no. For or against. Right or wrong. No matter the situation, there are always various shades of gray and about as many opinions as there are people — and sometimes more than that.
Often it’s easy to determine which side of an issue you should support or to see the other side’s point of view. When an issue touches your emotions, it becomes more difficult to choose a position or be open to other ideas or thoughts.
Then there are those instances when no matter what position you take or don’t take, it’s part of a no-win situation.
Such is the case with a young boy’s Halloween costume that was worn to the Trunk or Treat event on Saturday.
Initially our staff thought it best to leave debate and opinions about the costume to the ranks of social media and discussions between friends. Though it offended our sensibilities, we didn’t want to bring more attention to the matter.
That’s usually how we deal with certain issues such as graffiti artists. Don’t give them any attention or boost their credibility/notoriety.
But as word of the costume spread, it became apparent that we needed to do what journalists are trained to do: present the issue fairly and give those who were affected by the costume a chance to voice their thoughts and concerns — positive or negative — about the matter.
It’s not our place to censor the news, and the ripple this costume caused throughout the community and surrounding area became the story.
As did the divisiveness about it. Conversations became heated. Name calling ensued. People’s characters were called into question. Parents’ abilities to care for their children were challenged. Hate spewed.
Whether or not that was the intention of the costume, that is what it inspired. Hate is what it has represented for around 75 years.
No one in the vicinity seemed untouched or unaffected by the controversy that surrounded the costume.
Yes, it was a costume. It also is so much more than that to many people. It was scary, yet not in the way that other costumes are. It was not a fictional character. It was a man who methodically arranged for millions of people to be murdered.
There’s a lesson to be learned from this. Actually lots of lessons. Lessons for the child. Lessons for his parents. Lessons for those who attended Trunk or Treat. Lessons for those who organized the family-friendly event. There are even lessons for those who just heard about the costume secondhand.
Hopefully, the debate spawned by this costume will inspire people to be more open to others’ views, to be a little kinder to their neighbors and to never forget what happened. Take this as an opportunity to revisit history for as Spanish philosopher George Santayana said “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.