Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia, removed some Halloween props after visitors complained that severed heads seemed insensitive. The terrorist group ISIS recently released a video showing the decapitation of two American journalists and a British aid worker. The complaints have renewed the debate between free expression and censorship.
The complaint came when the Virginia Gazette newspaper showed a photo featuring five severed head props as part of Busch Gardens’ Howl-O-Scream event, particularly in the Cut Throat Cove attraction. According to the website, the Cut Throat Cove was a pirate-themed haunted house that showed a number of body parts, including heads.
“Many of the scenes depicted at Busch Gardens’ Howl-O-Scream are graphic in nature, but they are fictional and are not intended to provide commentary on current world events. The props in this year’s event were designed and purchased several months ago.”
Critics have come out and said that the park was giving into excessive censorship when it removed the props. Some going so far as to say that the terrorists have won by forcing us to change our decisions. Others have said that any depiction of blood and gore is going to be offensive to some people. When officials removed the props, they may have opened the floodgates to more complaints and removals.
Nevertheless, Busch Gardens defended the decision on its Facebook page, saying,
“We know there will be a lot of opinions on our decision to remove certain props from the park. We stand by it. The horrible tragedy and loss of life for journalists and an humanitarian aid worker in the Middle East is unspeakable and we would not want anything in our park to seem insensitive to that.”
The photos of the Halloween event ran about three hours after the release of the latest ISIS video showing the death of British aid worker David Haines. The timing made it seem like a confusing and insensitive choice by the paper’s editors. Unlike Busch Gardens, Gazette editor Rusty Carter is defending the work, saying,
“The photo was taken last week as part of an assignment to preview a current exhibit. The figures are cartoonish in design, and do not look realistic. It is the job of our reporters and photographers to report and photograph the news, not censor it.”
Censorship is always a delicate matter, but people should hopefully still enjoy the event even with the offending props removed.
[Image Credit: Youtube.com]