BY ROLAND FLEMING
It’s time the media circus moved on, and the clowns went home. What started as an isolated incident in August has now spread to more than 20 states and other countries such as Canada and the UK.
The media serves to inform the public about what is going on around them. In turn, this helps people to be aware and protect themselves from threats that may exist in their area. At the same time, the media, although sometimes not intentionally, actually assists in creating the threat by sensationalizing small incidents.
The first clown sighting recognized as the beginning of this “movement” happened at the end of August in South Carolina when someone in a clown costume was reported trying to lure children into the woods. This was a legitimate threat that needed to be reported for the sake of local parents’ awareness. Following this event, many pranksters dressed up in costumes and scared people. These copycats do not merit the attention they have been given and it is this that has helped to perpetuate these acts.
The media is not the only one to blame as social media has also helped the clown crisis to grow. All kinds of clown sighting videos have surfaced showing the reactions of those being terrorized by clowns. Many of these have gone viral.
Most of these clowns are harmless attention-seekers; the problem is the ones who do actually mean harm. The added problem is that the masks make it hard to read body language or facial cues. Someone is either going to get hurt by a clown, or end up hurting a clown playing a prank.
The media is right to report legitimate threats in the goal of public safety. But many of these clown sightings are just youth in costumes trying to scare others for giggles. On Halloween this is expected, but it shouldn’t be something that is happening every day.
What we see and hear about is the “funny” reactions of people fleeing in terror in the paper, on TV, on social media. Media coverage is inspiring the clowns, rather than dissuading them. The most responsible thing media could do at this point is to stop talking about it. When the constant coverage stops, so will the clowns.
The views herein represent the position of the newspaper, not necessarily the author.