Thanks for the thoughtful response.

My article wasn’t a rebuke of individuals who choose not to wear Halloween costumes that reflect cultures other than their own, but rather of those who demand that others should refrain from wearing Halloween costumes that reflect cultures other than their own.

As someone of Mexican heritage, I’ve become rather annoyed when I see a handful of non-Mexicans decree that it’s offensive to Mexicans when non-Mexicans don the garb of Mexican culture. I don’t want someone speaking on my behalf — let ME decide if something is offensive to my culture. Let ME decide what the appropriate response is to offensive costumes. If I’m offended, I’ll deal with it in my own way, but I’m certainly not going to claim that everyone else should adopt my opinions and sensibilities.

Certainly some forms of racially-tinged costumes should be frowned upon (like blackface), but I fear that in our zeal to discourage blatantly racist costumes, we’ve gone too far in the direction of “don’t wear anything outside of your culture.” Does that now mean that a 10 year old white boy can’t dress up as a ninja? A teenage black girl shouldn’t be allowed to dress up like the Queen of England? The current argument against culturally appropriated costumes is almost completely devoid of nuance, and relies far too heavily on the subjective taste of a handful of individuals, which is why I lean more in the direction of too much freedom of costume choice rather than not enough — there’s no clear distinction between good natured and bad natured cultural appropriation.

Also, the accusations of cultural appropriation in Halloween costumes is merely one symptom of a larger social disease — that of restricting freedom of speech and expression. With cancel culture on the rise, I can’t help but wonder if our society is losing its tolerance of different, outre, and even offensive ideas. The world is a messy, dangerous, and hurtful place, and we should put more effort in preparing people to confront it instead of babyproofing it.

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