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Looking for outrage in a costume

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Waukesha Freeman September 26, 2014 Page A5 Opinion
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Looking for outrage in a costume
Bigger worries in world than store selling Slender Man costume

I could have been famous. A friend of mine emailed me early last week that a Brookfield store selling Halloween costumes, Party City, was selling Slender Man costumes. He was surprised to see them, given the stabbing incident allegedly inspired by the character in Waukesha.

I broke the story on my website in a brief blog entry. My only comment was that I thought the store was showing poor taste. I still think that it’s in poor taste.

The next day I was contacted by a local television station to see if I was willing to go on the air to discuss the story. I told them I didn’t think it would be appropriate since I did not personally see the costumes.

As I explained to my wife and son later, I also didn’t think I could whip up enough outrage to be interesting. In a choice between talking on television about a silly Halloween costume and getting ready for a Boy Scout popcorn presentation, the Boy Scouts naturally won.

My wife, the Lovely Doreen from Waukesha, wondered what the fuss was about. It’s not like the stores were selling costumes of the two young girls that allegedly stabbed their friend. It’s not like anyone actually thinks the Slender Man character is responsible for the stabbing incident.

Both my wife and my son even wondered how anyone could be “outraged,” as the television news show claimed. The costume didn’t even have the Slender Man tentacles.

Unlike my daughter, who sees Halloween as merely a convenient way to “fill the chocolate meter,” my wife and son take the scariness of Halloween seriously.

I suppose anything involving the Slender Man case will inevitably go national. The other day, Fox News discussed the costumes on the “Outnumbered” panel show. My friend who originally told me about the costume sent me the Web link with some amusement.

Just in case anyone needs a dose of perspective, while a national program on the Fox News network was discussing a Halloween costume, we bombed Syria with the latest in technological horrors. The Ebola virus spread in Africa. Russia continued to threaten a wider European war with its neighbors.

There is plenty of scary stuff in the world to worry about. Getting worked up over a costume of a fictional character should probably be low on the list for a national news program to discuss.

I realize that if we only confined ourselves to the really important topics, every newspaper columnist and television pundit would have to become theologians.

But “outrage” should be only used for the outrageous. Selling the costume so close to the community where the stabbing occurred may be in poor taste, but it is not an outrage.

I may have missed my chance to go on television again to be famous for breaking the great Slender Man costume story, but at least I kept my sense of perspective.

If a local television station wants me to discuss Mary Burke’s plagiarized jobs plan or Susan Happ’s handling of a conflict of interest in a sexual assault case, I’ll be happy to go on. I could even be outraged.

*** I met Walter Kolb during the Republican primary election for state Senate to replace Lynn Adelman. Kolb hosted a fundraiser at his home for Mary Lazich, who went on to win the election.

During the party, I stepped to the right and found myself accidentally walking on the cover of the swimming pool. Not one of my more graceful moments, and Kolb was gracious enough to not hold it against me when we met again a few years later.

In my Waukesha Freeman columns, he was “the mercurial Walter Kolb” because he did not allow yard signs for candidates he opposed to appear in front of the Republican Party headquarters on Highway 164, a property he owned. It was one of the more amusing quirks in local politics.

His county supervisor district constituents and his fellow residents in the Town of Waukesha will miss him. As a county supervisor, Kolb was an influential voice for fiscal conservatism. In the town, Kolb was a force for reason, often behind the scenes.

Waukesha is a poorer place without Kolb. To his family and friends, I offer my condolences.

(James Wigderson is a blogger publishing at http://www.wigderson.com and a Waukesha resident. His column runs Thursdays in The Freeman.)

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