By the Way

Open letter to creepy clowns roaming the South, makers of ‘It’

A clown with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, is silhouetted in 2014, in Newark, N.J.
A clown with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, is silhouetted in 2014, in Newark, N.J. AP

I’d like to personally thank everyone involved in the upcoming remake of “It” for traumatizing a whole new generation.

And the movie isn’t even out yet.

The announcement alone instantly trended on social media, bringing promotional images and horrific stock photos of the devil’s minions to the screens of unsuspecting millions.

One minute I’m scrolling past babies, engagements and thinly veiled pyramid schemes. Then BAM: a brightly colored face of pure evil.

Never in my life have I scrolled past something so fast. Except maybe when I see the word “Kardashian.”

But you see, things have escalated lately. Your film already has inspired a few warped individuals to bring this unique horror to the streets of our fine, upstanding Southern communities.

There have been reports of clowns in Long Beach, in Gulfport, in Lucedale, in Georgia and in Escambia County, Alabama.

My co-workers have been forced to report on this terror in our midst — though a little too gleefully. And our overworked law enforcement officers have been forced to investigate these sightings.

Officers have told our reporters repeatedly it’s not illegal to don circus-wear and makeup and roam the streets, but I am hard pressed to come up with a better definition of “disturbing the peace.”

Then again, what good is a gun and a baton against a prehistoric force of evil?

Legitimate or not, these sightings have flooded my social media accounts and inboxes with grinning demons, sending me into cold sweats.

Clowns have even been the it-topic of the week in the newsroom (pun intended), with co-workers thoughtfully threatening to dress as such for Halloween. My reaction:

Truly, this week has been an experiment in exposure therapy.

It’s taken all of my willpower not to fly into a Kanye West–style Twitter rage.

But clowns are fun! (They say.) They’re harmless. They bring laughter to children. Even the jolly Cam on “Modern Family” moonlights as a clown.

LIES. As soon as Fizbo makes an appearance, that episode gets immediately deleted from my DVR, no questions asked.

We are living in a post–innocent clown society. Just ask the kids surveyed in a 2008 study on children’s hospital decor.

“It” changed everything. And Hollywood is about to double down.

But all evidence aside, fear of clowns — coulrophobia — is a PHOBIA, an irrational fear. It’s no less real or anxiety-inducing than snakes, spiders, heights, cramped spaces, needles, dogs, flying or germs.

And with the impending Halloween season, I fear for the sanity of myself and others. But I also fear for your safety.

I implore all of you to REIN IT IN on the clown shenanigans. You might just happen upon a coulrophobic person, and you might end up stabbed. Or worse.

On that note, I’ll leave you with a legitimately lovely song about the most terrifying real-life clown ever.

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