For once, Alabama is on the cutting edge of a national trend — unfortunately it happens to be the dumbest trend since The Macarena.
Alabama happens to be “clown central” right now. I’m referring to the waves of people claiming to be clowns threatening schools, sending them into “lockdown” and causing police to issue a BOZO for anyone in floppy shoes lurking nearby. Oops, I meant a BOLO. Sorry.
This week Mobile became the latest city to take a pie in the kisser from a creepy clown wannabe. The MPD news release says it all:
“On Monday, Sept. 18, 2016, officers received several reports of clowns coming to terrorize local schools. Through investigation detectives located and arrested the 16-year-old male juvenile subject in connection to the incident.
“The juvenile was transported to Strickland Youth Center and charged with terrorist threats.”
Now I’m not one of those people who suffers from coulrophobia, or a fear of clowns — unless that clown is John Wayne Gacy — but I have to admit the idea of multiple clowns “coming to terrorize local schools” is an unnerving one. Especially when you realize it would only take one Smart Car-load of clowns to completely surround even the biggest high school in the area.
While Mobile is the latest Alabama city to feel clown wrath, we are not alone. Several schools in Flomaton were put on clown lockdown last week because of “threatening” Facebook messages from a group known as the “Flomo Klowns.”
Their message — described as “sinister” by one news outlet — said “It’s going down tonight,” followed by an emoji of a revolver and the words “I love kids.” A parent also contacted the Flomaton PD to report that her kid had actually been singled out for threatening messages by the Flomo Klowns.
I’m not going to spend a lot of time pointing out the fact that kids generally wouldn’t be at school if it was “going down tonight.” Police and schools have a responsibility to take even the most asinine “threats” seriously. Besides, everyone knows clowns can’t tell time very well since, generally, when they look at their watches water squirts in their eyes. So I’ll give the Flomo Klowns a pass on threatening to attack an empty school at night and assume they were an actual danger.
Though Alabama seems to have become clown central, we’re not alone. Reports of clown sightings have come in from around the country. In one case, a bunch of kids said clowns were trying to lure them into a wooded area with money. Oddly that turned out to have been made up. That was easy to spot. Whoever heard of clowns with money?
We do live in very strange times, full of actual terrorism, so it’s no wonder people are on edge enough to worry about what just might be a teenage prank. Who’s to say ISIS’ next move won’t be to send crates of face paint and plastic flowers to their operatives inside the United States?
Still, I’m not really sure charging a dopey 16-year-old with “terrorist threats” is a reasonable response when it appears the kid wasn’t even part of clown gang. I say if he wants to be a clown, make him dress as one and empty all the garbage cans at his school every day for the rest of the semester. Let’s hope the FBI has better things to do than sweating some kid for the names of clown associates.
But I’m a parent and I know how scary is to think of anyone attacking a school, be it a clown or just a run-of-the-mill maniac. The good thing is so far it doesn’t appear this clown fad has caused anyone physical harm, but we can’t be too careful.
Now is probably as good a time as any for the Luv Guv to call the Legislature back into a special session to pass an anti-clown law with real teeth that will make it harder for clowns to disrupt our peaceful way of life.
I’m sure the ACLU (American Clown Liberties Union) will come down hard against such a law, claiming Alabama is busy profiling an entire group instead of fighting the real problem. No doubt they’ll argue we’re dealing with just a few angry, possessed or satanic clowns and such legislation tars all the hardworking sad, happy, buffoonish and magic clowns who came to this country to escape oppression and live peacefully, except for the occasional pie fight.
But that’s exactly the kind of limp attitude the Flomo Klowns are counting on to continue their reign of terror. It’s time for Alabama to act. With some reasonable legislative reforms we can protect ourselves from rogue clowns.
Here are a few suggestions:
• No more than 15 people in a car at one time.
• Make it illegal to sell shoes over size 30.
• Regulate seltzer water as a controlled substance.
• Suspend the sale of suspenders, especially if attached to barrels.
• Pie may only be sold by the slice.
• Make horns on shoes a Class A misdemeanor.
• Ban the sale of small-dog ballet skirts.
• Shut down the state-run clown college.
• Put a three-day waiting period on confetti.
• Make possession of a red nose a felony.
Those are just a few of the easier ideas. Of course the hard part will be determining how circuses are background checked at the state line to make sure none of the sad clowns have been radicalized. They’re clearly the closest to the edge.
It’s also really going to be up to parents to recognize the warning signs and to try to stop their kids from “going clown” early. Keep a careful eye on makeup and clothing choices. Don’t let your child sit around watching “It” and “Killer Klowns from Outer Space” over and over. And if the kid begins listening to Insane Clown Posse night and day or renames the family dog “Jugalo,” it might be time to call in a professional. Before it gets there, though, parents should openly talk to their kids about not becoming a clown, even if it is embarrassing.
With some timely legislation and common-sense parenting, I’m sure Alabama can put this trend of clown threats behind us and start worrying about the silent killer — mimes.