Keith and Madelyn were strolling along the back way to Henry Hall, which they favored more for its light traffic and lack of freshmen than its scenic view of dumpsters in semi-decorative brick enclosures. Madelyn was complaining loudly about Dr. Wojtecki’s grading practices when Keith interrupted her.

“Look at that,” he said. “That pile of Nerds and pink Tootsie Rolls as been on that ledge since Halloween.” The candy was sitting in one of the brick “windows” that semi-decorated a dumpster alcove.

“You’d think a campus full of starving freshman working on their fifteen would’ve finished it off even dumpster candy long ago,” said Madelyn. “Like ‘Halloween night’ long ago.”

“Well everyone was too busy getting falling-down drunk while dressed as a skimpy nurse on All Hallows itself,” said Keith. “And probably hung over with a volatile mix of candy and cognac swirling in an otherwise empty stomach.”

“That explains a day, maybe. But over a month?”

“Think about it. After a few days hungry people notice it but they’re like ‘why hasn’t anyone eaten that yet?'” Keith said in a bad falsetto. “They conclude there’s something wrong with it. And the odd little kid that comes by who wouldn’t care is helicoptered by parents still fretting over the latest razor-blades-in-candy-apples urban legend moral panic.”

“Well, I’m going to give it a good home,” Madelyn said. She reached for the small pink pile.

“Are…are you sure about that?” Keith said, suddenly anxious. “It has been out in the elements for a long time. And despite my jokey tone a minute ago, some of that stuff could have a basis in fact.”

“Oh, it’s not for me,” Madelyn grinned. “It’s for Dr. Wojtecki. Never saw a piece of candy he didn’t like. And never met a substitute he does.”

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This plea comes to us on behalf of Black Bill Cubbins, a native pirate and chair of the American branch of the Pirate, Buccaneer, Corsair, Privateer, and Other Plunderers Anti-Defamation League (PBCPOPADL).
-The Editors

Pirates come from a number of diverse cultural and historical backgrounds, from corsairs to buccaneers to privateers to today’s modern pirates-on-the-go from Somalia or Malacca. Homogenizing this piratical diversity into the stereotypical and misleading “Captain Hook” mold denies, minimizes, disenfranchises, and other-izes pirates past, present, and future.

The stereotypical accoutrements of these misleading and insulting costumes also perpetuate negative stereotypes about pirates. Contrary to the popular Western image of pirates with cutlass and pistol, most pirates preferred to take plunder through nonviolent negotiation and treated prisoners well. The image of the tyrannical pirate captain embraced by ignorant and divisive Halloween revelers is also a hurtful fabrication: pirate captains were typically elected by the consent of the captained, making pirate ships one of the few true democracies in the world at the time.

Perhaps most inaccurate and offensive is the concept of “pirate speak” glorified in Hollywood and by divisive and disenfranchising holidays like “Talk Like a Pirate Day.” This patois, completely unlike the speech of any known pirate (who more often than not would not even converse in English) hypersexualizes and commodifies the image of the drunken and lustful pirate sailor and can result in ignorant violence against actual practicing pirates. And this doesn’t even touch on the proud tradition of lady pirates, who dressed modestly and were often mistaken for men–a far cry from the lewd and revealing “costumes” currently in vogue.

As a pirate, American, and father, I urge this year’s trick-or-treaters and their parents to support a progressive and inclusive vision of the holiday by shunning any and all pirate-themed “costumes.” Be a hobo, be a ninja, be an astronaut, but don’t be a pirate. Pirate costumes plunder us all of our dignity.

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