Out-of-Town Trick-or-Treaters Spark Cultural Debate

Thousands of families across the United States will trick-or-treat tonight in neighborhoods not their own. The cultural debate surrounding "Halloween carpetbaggers" is tied into broader debates about race, class, and wealth.

Washington Post columnist Petula Dvorak wrote today one of America's most interesting current cultural debates: "Halloween carpetbaggers."

"Is it okay to go trick-or-treating in another neighborhood? That’s the Halloween soul-searching we are collectively doing this year.... Let’s be honest here. A lot of this is about race and class, about the haves and the have-nots."

If you're active on social media, chances are you've seen a link to this letter answered by Salon's Dear Prudence column earlier this week. The letter writer (who, all things considered, I doubt is a real person) complains about poor families descending on his upscale neighborhood to take advantage of his "charity." As Dvorak and Prudence both note, the carpetbaggers are usually poor kids whose parents sought out a safer street, as well as less-pitiable teenagers on the hunt for as much sugar as possible. Dvorak says the stigma related to the latter should not be shared with the former:

"Imagine living in a neighborhood where it’s too dangerous to knock on a door at night, or next to neighbors who are too poor to buy a bag of candy. We can do better than have resentment about this."

In search of a compromise, it would make sense for local police to keep a keener eye on affluent neighborhoods on Halloween, just to make sure none of the strangers are there for more nefarious means than candy procurement. As long as safety is maintained, most people seem to agree that there's no harm in trick-or-treat tourism.

Of note: if this sort of debate is dampening your fun today, I recommend that for the rest of the afternoon all your Halloween hot takes come straight from The Onion. It always makes me feel better.

Did you know 1 in 5 American children will do their trick-or-treating online this year? http://t.co/K20OSbn8S9 pic.twitter.com/8cn9andmBa

— The Onion (@TheOnion) October 31, 2014

'Upstreamism': Your zip code affects your health as much as genetics

Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."

Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
  • Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
  • Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
Keep reading Show less

In U.S. first, drug company faces criminal charges for distributing opioids

It marks a major shift in the government's battle against the opioid crisis.

George Frey/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • The nation's sixth-largest drug distributor is facing criminal charges related to failing to report suspicious drug orders, among other things.
  • It marks the first time a drug company has faced criminal charges for distributing opioids.
  • Since 1997, nearly 222,000 Americans have died from prescription opioids, partly thanks to unethical doctors who abuse the system.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists create a "lifelike" material that has metabolism and can self-reproduce

An innovation may lead to lifelike evolving machines.

Shogo Hamada/Cornell University
Surprising Science
  • Scientists at Cornell University devise a material with 3 key traits of life.
  • The goal for the researchers is not to create life but lifelike machines.
  • The researchers were able to program metabolism into the material's DNA.
Keep reading Show less

Calling out Cersei Lannister: Elizabeth Warren reviews Game of Thrones

The real Game of Thrones might be who best leverages the hit HBO show to shape political narratives.

Photo credit: Mario Tama / Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren argues that Game of Thrones is primarily about women in her review of the wildly popular HBO show.
  • Warren also touches on other parallels between the show and our modern world, such as inequality, political favoritism of the elite, and the dire impact of different leadership styles on the lives of the people.
  • Her review serves as another example of using Game of Thrones as a political analogy and a tool for framing political narratives.
Keep reading Show less