Friday, November 13, 2015

Dear Yale PC Faculty & Students. Transylvanians Need Protection From Halloween As Well.

While I never attended the prestigious Yale university I want to congratulate the Yale staff and students for the principled stand they took against the practice of wearing costumes on Halloween, which may offend some people.  This really is the right path, because Halloween should be a happy occasion where everyone should feel comfortable with other people's behavior and choices.

Have to say however that as a person born in Transylvania, I am a little bit disappointed in the fact that no attention was given to costumes which us Transylvanians, some of which may be a little bit over-sensitive, may find to be potentially offensive.  You were wise to suggest that people should not impersonate Native Americans, Muslims or anyone of color, but remember that other people have feelings as well.

Now, before you jump to conclusions and think that this may be a joke, I assure you, it is not! Transylvania is a real place, currently within the country of Romania.  Transylvania has about seven million inhabitants, therefore chances are that Yale university, with over 12,000 students enrolled and many staff members as well, is home to at least a few people of Transylvanian heritage.

Now, us Transylvanians are somewhat more reserved people comparatively speaking.  We would not ordinarily make a big fuss about some people portraying us in a negative light during an event such as Halloween, therefore perhaps none of your Transylvanian students spoke up about it, or it may simply be that none of them are offended.  But should we take a chance on offending anyone?  Or would it be wise to take proper precautions?

Thanks to Bram Stoker who did not manage to get his geography right, us poor Transylvanians are stuck with being associated with this cultural event.  They even made a terrible movie called "Zoltan hound of Dracula", which unfortunately attributes my name, which I am proud of, to an evil murderous dog.  When I first saw the movie and saw just how awful it was, I was hoping that people will not associate my name with it, because most people would have never even seen it, but it was not to be.  I in fact was approached a few times by people inquiring about that awful connection, and related to me that that awful movie is in fact a cult classic.  So I urge you, please add vampires to your list of costumes which may be offensive to others.  Who knows, it may even save a poor Transylvanian's life.  These days, one never knows given all the unbalanced people around us, whether we will one day have an impalement of a Transylvanian into the heart with a wooden stake.  If this is not about making people feel safe, I don't know what is!

Furthermore, given that us Transylvanians come from Central Europe, I also recommend that you consider putting on your list werewolf and Frankenstein monster costumes which are inspired by that region as well.  Again. it is not only a matter of offending Central European cultures by portraying them as belonging to a place that produces all sorts of horrible monsters, but it is a matter of safety.  Transylvanians and other Central Europeans could become the target of a deranged person which may be convinced that a Central European person may turn into a werewolf thus he/she may look to kill that person with a silver bullet.

Looking back at a particular incident that happened about a decade ago in a gay club, I am also inclined to believe that these sort of stereotypes about the region where I come from, may even lead to sexual harassment issues, sparked by misunderstandings.  Me and a Hungarian friend of mine escorted a group of young ladies to that club after their bachelorette party ended early (stripper left and they started tugging on my shirt when I got there to deliver the drunk groom-to-be to his home).  This club was open till later than most, so we went there.  It did not take long for my Hungarian friend's tush to be grabbed by another man and for my friend to want to go home as a result.  All these years I thought that it was merely a case of a gay man taking a liking to my friends rear end, which he obviously must have thought is rather cute and attractive.  Now that I think back, he must have heard us speak in Hungarian, he must have seen my friend's face and probably thought that he is tired, and he must have thought we might be formerly dead people brought back to life in traditional Central European fashion, by some evil scientist.  So, perhaps he figured that my friend who must have looked very tired must need an electric charge and that nice gay person must have simply been looking for a place to plug it in.  So, as you can see, promoting the Frankenstein monster image on Halloween can in fact lead to some potentially unpleasant misunderstandings.

As for the Witch costume, my grandmother used to practice some of those ceremonies which are usually associated with witchcraft.  Honestly, I don't really think those ceremonies worked.  But, it is estimated that about half a million women in Europe were burnt at the stake over those Pagan rituals, therefore is it really wise not to discourage the use of that costume?  After all, it gives legitimacy to one of the most horrific crimes against women in human history.  Not to mention that it misrepresents my late grandmother, which I can assure you that even though she practiced some of those rituals, she did not dress like that, nor did she ever attempt to fly on a broom.

I know that it may seem highly unusual for anyone from my part of the world to ask for such considerations, given that we are more reserved when it comes to such issues, as I already pointed out.  But, given that you have gone to such effort to protect other groups such as Native Americans, Muslims and colored people in general from being offended by Halloween costumes that some thoughtless people may decide to wear for the occasion, I implore you to also consider extending the same courtesy to us Transylvanians, for we are truly the most affected cultural group on Halloween.

Yours Truly,
Zoltan Ban