**As an opinion editorial piece, this article does not reflect the views or opinions of Vital VOICE**
November 1, 2016: A “Christian” haunted house staged by Tyrone Tappler Productions was to feature graphic scenes of the Orlando Pulse Massacre, the Charleston Church Shooting, and reenact an abortion; all of which was to be performed for elementary school children. Thankfully the haunted house was shut down when a concerned citizen, who preferred to remain anonymous, stepped forward to file a complaint.
Tyrone Tappler—who spearheaded the event, and had advertisements calling for Pulse nightclub victim actors as far back as August 31st—quoted himself as being a trailblazer, but what exactly is he blazing a trail for? Religious persecution? A moral upheaval that would make light of the survivors and the victims of these atrocities? I can’t really answer that question, only Tappler can. However, I can offer some insight as to what I think the implications of such an event would be.
First and foremost, on the issue of bigotry—as both the Charleston Church Shooting and the Orlando Pulse Massacre were inspired by prejudice—there is a sense of celebration that is not only inappropriate but depraved. While I acknowledge that a haunted house is supposed to be frightening, it is also supposed to be entertaining. And to find entertainment in the death and violence that surrounded these two instances is deplorable. It undercuts the victims’ narratives, repurposing them for cheap thrills. Worse, it sends a message that it is okay to make light of these situations—to diminish the seriousness of these crimes. This then fosters an ideology that crimes of these nature are not as serious because they happened to the black community, the gay community, the latino community, etc.
From here, there is also the problematic nature of illustrating the graphic—over-exaggerated in this case—process of an abortion. Regardless of your political stance on the issue, the tendency to misuse a woman’s body as a shocking and vivid statement is one that I disagree with. The intimacy of making such decision—to have an abortion—is one I will never know, but it is a choice that women have been afforded under our government. To admonish and vilify this choice, ultimately condemning the women who choose to assert their rights, only inspires more hatred and less conversation. I can support educated discourse, but what I cannot willingly, nor voicelessly, support is the blatant shock value that was intended by Tappler to create a one-sided conversation.
Lastly, each of these scenes were to be performed for an audience of children (12 and under). While I do not support censorship, I contend that it is well understood that when a child attends school or a school-based function, there is to be some consideration for what is and what isn’t age appropriate. Thankfully, the Chicago Public School system received enough complaints to cancel the event. Nonetheless, I am concerned that, had this played out differently and the event was permitted (it being canceled the day before opening), would the obscene elements of this haunted house taint the view of those children in attendance? I am not a parent, and I can’t imagine what it is like to be a parent. But I am an older brother, and part of my responsibility in ensuring that my younger siblings are both safe and healthy is knowing when to shield them from instances that would otherwise harm them. This haunted house was most certainly one of those instances.
Overall, I commend the Chicago Public School system, Fernwood Elementary, and the samaritans who stepped forward to voice their concern. However, that does not entirely erase this situation. Knowing that there are individuals out there who would manipulate these horrendous tragedies for personal benefit is the real let down here. That even in 2016, we still live in an age where, instead of learning from our actions and the actions of the others, we favor shock-value and awe. For those supporting Tappler, I simply ask that you reflect on your actions, and consider: What if it was your son or daughter, your mother or father, your best friend who died in these events? Would you be so content with seeing that reenacted for a few screams and laughs? V
by Brandon Sheldrake