Housekeeping Hell Houses: the Freakout
posted by October 31 at 13:25 PMon
On KIRO, apparently, they’re discussing this edition of Topography of Terror, about the Halloween decorations that actually scare the crap out of us, written by several staffers and edited by me:
Cobwebs and witches are for children and morons. If you’re looking for the most hair-raising Halloween horrors, try scouring the streets of the Eastside. That’s where we found the most pants-wettingly scary houses, sure to give you night terrors well past Halloween and all the way until November 4. Because in an election year, nothing’s more terrifying than the future.
People in the comments thread are hoppin’ mad that we published the addresses of the scary houses.
Publishing addresses crosses the line, for all your talk of open ideas, you are clearly against free speech. Let people have their lawn signs, it’s their right as Americans - morons.
Wow. Wow. I love visiting the Stranger to get my daily dose of “progressive double standards” but this is shocking. You truly hate these people and what they believe in. How can anybody possibly be sympathetic to your cause when you show such callousness to anybody who doesn’t fall in step with your views?
These signs are in front of houses. The houses have addresses. You drive by, there’s a house with a political display, there’s the house number… It’s not private information.And it’s not like the people in those houses are keeping their opinions a secret. They’re going out of their way to broadcast their opinions — if anything, the Stranger is helping!
The Stranger is just gross.
To answer a few questions running through the thread:
Yes, this is legal. Newspapers have been printing addresses for houses with extravagant Halloween and Christmas decorations for as long as there have been glowing Santas and cackling automatons.
No, we don’t want people to go vandalize those houses.
No, we’re not terribly worried people are going to vandalize or attack those houses—last I checked it wasn’t Democrats who were doing lots of gun-waving, clinic-bombing, and reporter-assaulting.
Yes, there was some ambivalence in the office about printing the addresses. We had a debate. The pro-address-printers won.
Yes, I would print my address online in a spirit of fairness and shut-the-fuck-up-edness. But I live with other people who shouldn’t be subjected to the rage of our readers—who, judging by the comments thread, would be far more likely to come egg my house than egg those McCain supporters’ houses.
No, we don’t hate these people. But we are afraid of what they believe in.
No, The Stranger is not against free speech.
And for anyone who thinks we secretly want somebody to go vandalize those houses—seriously, don’t. It was just a joke.
And now please enjoy another Hell House:
Like an oversized cousin of John McCain’s aged, brown iguana teeth, this foreboding fence is busy keeping immigrants out and Jesus’s love within. How like the wily immigrant is the frightening foliage, as it insidiously creeps and scratches at Real America’s doorstep! How mighty the speculum of Dino Rossi—an army of dead-baby ghosts at his back—aborting civil rights before civil rights can abort him first! Who knows what liberal bogeymen lurk outside this fence’s cherished sanctum? The nightmare has just begun for you, Republican fence.
It’s been an exciting weekend—death threats, TV interviews, etc. Here’s what happened:
On Thursday, October 30, we published this story, about houses on the Eastside displaying McCain and Palin yard signs. We were parodying a certain kind of daily-newspaper feature—the “houses with the best Halloween/Christmas decorations” article, which typically includes addresses, so we included addresses. The point was that our readers, typically liberal, would be chilled by these “Halloween” displays. After the piece came out, there was some debate on The Stranger’s website about the piece’s inclusion of addresses—about the homeowners’ and The Stranger’s right to free speech, and about yards signs as public discourse—and some readers posted addresses of Stranger staffers in the comments. Turnabout is fair play, so we did not remove those comments and left our own addresses up on our website.
On Saturday morning, the piece exploded on right-wing blogs. The piece received over 1,300 comments, including dozens and dozens of death threats against our staff, many directing readers to incorrect addresses. What began as political satire changed from reasonably intelligent, irreverent discourse to something ugly. We don’t want anyone to get hurt—not the homeowners listed in the piece, not our staff, not the innocent bystanders who live at our old addresses—so we pulled the piece from the website.
So that readers can judge the content of the article for themselves, we’re reposting it online (with comments disabled for the time being and addresses redacted).
We regret that people are crazy.