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Friday, March 31, 2023

 

Perhaps one of the most notorious college stereotypes of our generation is that we are a hypersensitive bunch that’s overly obsessed with not offending people via the uncontrollable culture of political correctness. As a newspaper, we here at the Alligator are all in favor of free speech. We believe comments on controversial and deeply personal topics like religious ideology, lifestyle decisions and cultural awareness ought to be heard. It’s fair to hold a critical opinion on any of those topics, which brings us to a recent campus announcement.

With Halloween just around the corner, UF released an announcement asking students to please keep in mind that their decisions to dress up in certain costumes may be troublesome for other students who have a personal connection to said costume. We remember a time in 2012 when UF students shamefully dressed up in blackface for a party. Such costumes are obviously inappropriate, because they degrade many of our peers and reduce those peers to nothing more than a joke.

But this does not mean every costume that includes an acknowledgement to some particular ideology, background, cultural practice, etc., is inherently offensive. Believe it or not, satire is just as popular as it’s ever been and is not necessarily embodied only in writing, late-night TV skits and Lil Dicky songs. The art of satire is best demonstrated, more or less, by exposing some absurd concept in our lives. It is not an inconceivable notion that a Halloween costume can be satirical. Moreover, it’s quite possible a Halloween costume makes an insightful (and even necessary) comment on a controversial topic. A sickly thin iceberg is a cute take on climate change, and the last surviving bumblebee could be a clever comment on the newly endangered species. It’s only natural that people have varying interpretations of costumes. Please, dear reader, do not mistake “that is offensive” with “I am offended.” There is a difference, and how you choose to verbalize your take on a costume changes how we engage in conversation around the topic it brings up.

UF followed up their plea saying there are help services and resources available to UF students who find themselves “troubled” by costumes. We also encourage you to take advantage of such programs if you feel it necessary. Hopefully, nobody will dress in a way that is just downright disrespectful (read: with literally no contribution to the conversation) toward a group of people. If you have to think about whether a costume you’re wearing actually makes a point or just makes fun of a group, you’re probably better off not wearing it.

Our point is simple: It is, in fact, possible to respectfully point out a flaw with something very intimately linked with people’s lives. Moreover, it is possible to do that and involve humor in some way. Lastly, this concept can be embodied in a costume, and with Halloween coming up, it’s likely we will see such costumes. So please, dear reader, when choosing costumes next week, think about what you wear, because while the line may seem clear for some, some of us with perfectly fine intentions have very blurry vision.

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