The Clowns are back…again
There’s just something about clowns. Something that get right into the primal fear regions of many of our fight or flight responses in the oldest parts of our brain. My wife (who’s college education centered mostly around abnormal psychology) tells me it is because of a theory called “The Uncanny Valley” Which is mostly applied to robots, stuffed animals and corpses. However, I can see how it would also be attributed to clowns.
According to Wikipedia: “In aesthetics, the uncanny valley is the hypothesis that human replicas that appear almost, but not exactly, like real human beings elicit feelings of eeriness and revulsion among some observers. Valley denotes a dip in the human observer’s affinity for the replica, a relation that otherwise increases with the replica’s human likeness. Examples can be found in robotics, 3D computer animations, and life-like dolls among others.”
Whether this is the case or not there is no denying that there are amongst us certain individuals with entirely too much time on their hands, access to the internet and, cheap Halloween supply houses that have seized upon these very fears. When I try and imagine who these clowns might be lurking amongst the good citizens of our communities, that would be foolish (stupid) enough to perpetrate these pranks, I tend to envision pimply faced, skinny, home tattooed, 19 year olds that has been ostracized by their local Insane Clown Posse click sitting behind a fake Facebook account thinking they are onto something that will be a great laugh. Unfortunately, I fear that really it is these “wannabe” clowns that are going to be getting the short end of the stick (possibly a boom stick.) The fact is that when people are scared and threatened, it is in their nature to act irrationally and savagely. They won’t have time to think things out, to conclude that this is in all probability just some attention starved teenager just looking for negative attention. They are just going to try and disable or kill this crazy person that is trying to lure their children in to the woods or chasing their car.
This year alone we started with these sightings in just the US:
- August 29: Residents at the Fleetwood Manor Apartments in Greenville County, South Carolina, report that a person wearing a clown costume had been spotted lurking around the apartment complex trying to convince children to come into the woods.
- 4: Police in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, receive a call about a clown looking to lure children into the woods.
- 14: McDuffie County deputies in Georgia say Cameron Frails, 12, and his little brother, were walking to a bus stop when they were chased by men donning clown costumes.
- Sep 15: Authorities locked down Escambia County High School and Flomaton High School in Southern Alabama after clowns threaten students and post gun emojis on Facebook. So-called “Flomo Klowns” are spotted on the premises of both schools.
- 15: Authorities in Flomaton, Alabama, arrest 22-year-old Makayla Smith and two underage accomplices in connection with the threats to students at Escambia County High School and Flomaton High School.
- 19: Several children report a series of clown sightings in different neighborhoods of Annapolis, Maryland. Police later confirm the reports to be a hoax.
- 21: A middle school girl in Athens, Georgia, is arrested after bringing a knife into school. She claims it was for protection against clown attacks.
- 21: A 12-year-old in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, is chased by a clown through a park.
- 24: A Palm Bay, Florida, resident reports spotting two “killer clowns” while walking her dog. She says the clowns were staring at her and frightened her to the point that she called police after returning home.
- 25: A child in Phillipsburg, New Jersey, is chased by three people who emerged from the woods dressed as clowns. Nobody has been hurt in the town but it is the fourth such incident reported in the area. Residents plead with the troublemakers to stop their antics.
- 27: Tennessee officials put out a warning telling residents to be vigilant as Halloween approaches. One teenager reports being attacked by a clown.
- 27: Police in Phoenix say two different fast-food restaurants were robbed by suspects wearing clown masks.
- 30: The New York Times reports that false reports or threats in connection to sightings of “creepy clowns” have led to the arrest of 12 people in over 10 states.
- 30: Threatening Facebook post from the account “Aint Clownin Around” leave at least five schools in three separate states on high alert. The post sent to students in students in Westside High School in Houston reads, “We will be at all High schools this Friday to either kidnap students or kill teachers going to they cars …”
- 3: Police in Nampa, Idaho, confirm they have received reports of clown sightings in the area. They urge residents looking to join in the search for possible threatening persons should not participate.
- 3: Authorities at New Haven Public Schools in Connecticut urge principals and building leaders to ban clown costumes through Halloween this year.
I will also add that on September 29th the clowns also hit the town that I grew up in, Fort Collins Colorado and one just to the east Greeley. Here is a Facebook post relating to the story by the Fort Collins Police Services:
Last night FCPS began investigating a possible threat to Poudre High School. There is currently a national trend involving social media hoax threats against schools. While we don’t have any information that would lead us to believe this is a credible threat, we are working closely with the Poudre School District to investigate this incident. Poudre School District and FCPS will be providing additional security and continue to be vigilant at Poudre High School. We take any threat against schools, students and staff members very seriously and will continue the investigation.
I even traveled back home in the hopes of capturing one of these clowns in a photo or video. But it seems to all just be internet based. This seems to be a much safer tactic for these clowns as demonstrated by the students of Penn State this last week when word of a creepy clown sighting (3 alleged clowns) put the campus on lock down at least 500 students took to the streets some carrying tennis racquets, bats, and lacrosse sticks took it upon themselves to go hunting for the pranksters. No clowns were actually found or even seen. But it just goes to show you how quickly a large group of red blooded Americans can get on a witch hunt bent.
3 Clowns spotted at PSU allegedly. So naturally 6,000 kids mob the streets to hunt it down. I love Penn State pic.twitter.com/P4xYx0nVhs
— Addison Carson (@AddiCarson) October 4, 2016
This is by no means a new phenomenon. According to the Book: Weird U.S.: Your Travel Guide to America’s Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets By Mark Moran, Mark Sceurman It was in the spring of 1981, in Boston MA that our this hit our shores. During the first week of May some individuals in multicolored clothes began trying to entice school children into coming along with them in vans. This culminated in reports spanning over a thousand miles in the US and six major cites.
This is just the type of urban legend story that we love to get worked up about especially during the Halloween. Please, keep in mind that its all fun and games until someone thinks they have suddenly found themselves in the plot for a future horror movie and decides to defend themselves. Last week I received a late night call from a family member that was a little rattled due to the reports. I just had to calm her down a bit and remind her that with all of the boxing training she has done that it should be the poor clowns that would be sorry if they actually tried to attack her.
In the end, I see this really as a self-correcting problem as folks feel threatened enough the numbers of those foolish enough to perpetrate these type of activities will find themselves decreasing in numbers. It’s really just a matter of human nature and the drive for self defense.
(start the video at 2:15 to see just how quickly these pranks can go wrong.)
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You may find more great articles by Jason Van Tatenhove on https://www.oathkeepers.org/.