At this point, the typical St. Joseph voter must be tired of learning that another City Council member made another poor choice in a Halloween costume.
We are, too. So why continue discussing it?
Mainly out of a sense of, if not fairness, then balance. Councilman Kent O’Dell was taken to task for dressing as Aunt Jemima in 2012. It was in poor taste, though one could argue that the offensive nature of this outdated caricature was more widely appreciated in 2020 than in 2012.
Now comes fellow councilman Brian Myers to admit that he went as a slave owner for one Halloween and depicted a mentally handicapped person another year. Apparently, the Halloween stores were out of werewolf masks.
Like O’Dell, these costumes reflect poorly on the councilman. Making matters worse, Myers had publicly criticized O’Dell when he knew he wore costumes that were equally tacky, so he comes across as hypocritical. One could say that views also evolved on slavery and the dignity of disabled individuals, but that was in the 19th century.
It should be pointed out, though, that most controversies have a short shelf life, and this one will be shorter than most. Both O’Dell and Myers owe the community an apology — one that sounds more like an apology and less like a Facebook status update.
Beyond that, they should be ready to move on and so should St. Joseph. Some have mentioned the R-word, as in recall, as a possible recourse, but this drastic step is unnecessary and unneeded. It must be noted that Joyce Starr, a respected former councilwoman who is Black, said in an email that she was not offended by O’Dell’s costume.
Both O’Dell and Myers have served St. Joseph well and deserve to remain on the council, possibly with a better appreciation of how public and private lives merge for those in positions of leadership. Any recourse should be up to voters in a regular election, and both city officials have ample time to put this in the rearview mirror with a display of good leadership going forward.
Perhaps the moral of the story here is that Halloween ought to be considered more of a holiday for children.
Adults seem to have taken over, turning Halloween into a big business for parties that are a far cry from the days when kids went door-to-door with white blankets over their heads and two eye holes cut out. This breeds a culture of pushing the limits, and the next thing you know some grown-up is apologizing for going as Pol Pot.
The best way to celebrate Halloween, certainly the least politically damaging, is to stay home and hand out candy to little Disney princesses or Woody and Buzz from “Toy Story.” What’s so offensive about that?