As decreed by certain parent and school organizations throughout the country, the list of politically incorrect Halloween costumes continues to grow and now approaches the NASDAQ index in size.
Some of the prime offenders:
* Bum/Hobo: Ridicules the homeless, prejudges non-traditional lifestyle of hopping freight trains, dining on cold beans, Ripple, etc.
* Old man/old woman: Demeans the elderly, already reeling from cancellation of "Golden Girls" and possible revocation of senior citizen discounts at movie theaters.
* Witch: Glorifies the occult, takes a gratuitous slap at plain, hook-nosed women who prefer to dress in black and chant incantations around a bubbling caldron.
* Devil: Encourages satanism and the construction of small altars in the bedrooms of suburban teens, complete with charred remains of farm animals used in sacrificial rites.
* Fat man/fat woman: Pokes fun at the obese, questions their commitment to the universal cause of good health, i.e., why can't these people mix in a salad once in a while?
* Indian: Lampoons Native Americans, who ask only to live in peace and operate their plush, 3,000-seat gambling casinos.
As for which costumes are considered appropriate by these PC moms, dads and schools, high on the list are -- ta-daaa! -- the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
This is something I just don't understand.
Here's a show that causes children to sit slack-jawed in front of a TV with an ever-widening swath of orange Doritos stains forming around their mouths.
Here's a show that stars a sullen group of garishly costumed teens who spend their days kicking bad guys in the groin and duking it out with cheesy renegade space monsters.
In Norway, they've even dropped the Power Rangers show following the violent death of a 5-year-old, apparently at the hands of her playmates. And yet a Power Ranger costume is perfectly OK to the PC crowd here, while if a kid wears a bum outfit, he's . . . a bum.
"Power Rangers costumes are very big now," confirms Mike Sachs, 27, owner of Party City in Pikesville and Catonsville, stores that specialize in Halloween costumes. "We had 1,100 to 1,200 per store. It's the No. 1 [costume] of all time."
For the record, Mr. Sachs seems not to subscribe to the idea of politically incorrect Halloween costumes. ("You're looking at the one day when adults get to go out and be kids, and kids get to be whatever they want.")
Therefore, his stores sell all the offending outfits -- devils, witches, hobos, etc. And parents don't have to stare at their feet and mumble "Uh, I'll take a, um, Pocahontas" like a kid buying a condom for the first time.
Mr. Sachs says his top-selling costumes include: grim reapers, ninjas, soldiers, Cleopatra (Cleopatra?), Nala and Simba from "The Lion King," Jasmine from "Aladdin" and Belle from "Beauty and the Beast."
It should probably be mentioned that soldier costumes are also considered politically incorrect by some people.
The thinking is that such costumes glorify war, promote violence, etc., since soldiers have a tendency to use guns in their line of work.
On the other hand, if the soldier were to carry, say, clipboards instead of guns and be schooled in conflict-resolution techniques and empowerment skills, I'm sure such costumes would be regarded in a whole different light.
By the way, unlike G.I. costumes, Barney the Dinosaur costumes are very big with the PC crowd.
The problem is, not as many kids want to be Barney anymore, on account of Barney's time seems to have passed and he's regarded as somewhat uncool now -- sort of like a younger version of Buddy Hackett.
Let's face it, Barney had a lot of things going against him from the get-go: that goofy voice, a supporting cast in need of Ritalin IV's, the most annoying songs since "Bingo Was His Name-O" was set to music.
Sadly, it seems to have all caught up to the big, purple fella. And now with the hip, sleek Power Rangers on the scene, Barney's stock with pre-schoolers is plummeting like a safe dropping 15 stories.
This is probably neither here nor there, but if I were a kid, I'd dress up this Halloween as a tobacco lobbyist.
This would involve wearing a tasteful charcoal suit and carrying a Gucci attache case stuffed with subpoenas to appear before a )) Senate sub-committee hearing.
After yelling "Trick or treat!" to the startled homeowner, I'd say in a robotic voice: "To date, there is not one scintilla of evidence to suggest that smoking causes cancer."
Accompanying me would be a friend in a devil costume, and at this point the devil would drape an arm around my shoulder and chuckle: "You gotta love this guy!"
Then the two of us would walk arm-in-arm to the next house.
That might be a little too high-concept for some kids.
In which case, they might consider dressing as, oh, I don't know.
A Power Ranger?