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Creepy Clowns and Coulrophopia
Stephen King's "It" Pennywise the clown. New version for remake of movie.
In Phillipsburg, Wilson, North Catasauqua, and South Whitehall, New Jersey, on last Monday night, all Circus broke out around the area, with sightings of "creepy clowns" doing various silly and threatening evil-circus things, such as running from a vehicle, riding in cars staring at people, creeping around in the woods and chasing children near a school. Many groups of clowns were described as boisterous, some as threatening and scary.
The New Jersey sightings add New Jersey to the list of at least 11 other states, including Pennsylvania, that have reported creepy clowns scaring people. Real clowns, meaning those who do this for a living to make children laugh and have fun, have complained that the badly behaving clowns are giving them a bad reputation.
Other states reporting trouble-maker clowns are Maryland, North and South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Colorado, Virginia and Florida,
In Pennsylvania, clown threats have gone to social media. In a Community Awareness Bulletin issued Monday by Pennsylvania State Police, authorities encouraged residents to notify law enforcement via a toll-free PA State Police Terrorism Tip line. The PA police admit that there is little evidence, so far, that the clown threats are legitimate, but that does not mean that they haven't frightened people, or that some nut could be serious. The state police have reported that some calls have threatened to shoot students and teachers at schools, and claimed they "weren't clowning around." Police and most people believe most threats are a joke or prank. However, some have been reported harassing children on playgrounds, peering into windows, and chasing children.
Many of the reports have no evidence to back them up; no photos, recordings or other evidence. Well, we know, don't we? That lack of evidence never stops people from claiming something is true or really happened. Even so, the reports, which are spreading all over the country, are fueling a clown panic. Media coverage keeps it going, and attention-getting kids and adults want in on the attention.
Many of the threats have been made - you guessed it, over social media by teenagers, including threatening school shootings and general violence. Twelve people in several states have been arrested for making false reports.
Believe it or not, this is not the first time we have had a clown scare in the USA. In the 1980s, clown sightings were reported in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, as well as other places.
In Maryland, an 8th grader at a Middle School was arrested for making a Threat of Mass Violence. He was linked to the threat which was originally sent over social media. A second student was arrested for threatening mass violence and charged with the criminal offense, even though the investigation has determined this threat was not credible and was intended only as a disruption. More threats came in over social media, Twitter specifically, from a high school student from his newly - opened Twitter account with a clown theme. The student set up the account while in class and sent out the threats during the school day from class. (Hey, some students don't believe in homework, I get it.)
People who are afraid of clowns suffer from a vary common phobia called, Coulrophobia.
The word "clown comes from the English "clowne," meaning rustic, boor, peasant. Shakespeare included clowns in works such as Othello. It's were we get the idea of a harlequin. Modern clowns wear the red nose, big shoes, crazy colored clothing and wigs and are supposed to be comical.
The history of clowns is fascinating and goes back thousands of years. Most cultures have some sort of clown, trickster, jester or joker that used masks, make-up, wigs and strange clothing, going all the way back to the Egyptians in 2500 B.C.E. Most clowns are meant to entertain royalty, serve as comedians or perform song and dance routines. Native Americans have tricksters, who represent mischievous Coyote spirits and are considered sacred. They usually wear masks. The clowns we are most familiar with wear a red nose, white make-up, a wig, funny clothes and big feet. They are intended to be comical, like Bozo.
So fearing clowns, or suffering from Coulrophobia, does not make you crazy. However, it also doesn't make actual clowns dangerous or paranormal.
However, every once in a while a truly horrible person does something to make all of our irrational fears come true. In the 1970s, a man name John Wayne Gacy, Jr, created a clown character called, "Pogo the Clown". He would dress up and go to parades, fundraisers and parties as Pogo. He killed 33 boys and young men and buried them in the floor boards of his home. He was executed for his crimes in 1994.
John Wayne Gacy and Pogo
So, perhaps clowns are creepy enough to inspire evil behavior, or, certainly, evil characters for fiction, like Stephan King's "It". Perhaps it is the remake of "It" that has inspired this latest circus of coulrophobic flash mobbing and terroristic circus threats from Bozo.
Is there anything you can do if you suffer from Coulrophobia? Other than sign on for years of Psychiatric therapy, no, not that I am aware of.
But here's the good news. I searched and searched, and, other than some really, really lame and completely discredited stories on-line about ghost clowns, there just aren't any stories about paranormal or ghost clowns. My hope is that, unlike the slender-man fiction, which resulted in people being killed, this craze will end without anyone being harmed. I'm sure it is the genius of Stephen King, who's terrifying character Pennywise, has inspired this rash of insanity, but it's fiction, folks; just fiction.