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I've offended some neighbors..

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Well, it seems that our Halloween display is a bit too much for some neighbors. I've pretty much made up my mind what to do, but thought I would throw this out for opinions.

For the past five years or so, we've put a hanged man in our Maple tree out front. The man is pretty gross, that I admit. I built him out of PVC, an Armani suit I got at a garage sale, hands and feet, etc. We've never had any complaints before, in fact the hanged man has always been a hit. This year, I spent countless hours sequencing Dead Man's Party by Oingo Boingo, and the hanged man is featured, lights up with a red flood.

I was in the bedroom tonight putting away some laundry when I heard something outside. I immediately went out, but there was no one there. Came back in. When the show finished tonight, I had to go out to unplug the bats (the only things not run by LOR). There was a piece of paper sticking out the mailbox. This is what it said:

Dear Neighbor,

I am writing with regards to your choice of Halloween decor. Although I am pleased to see such enthusiasm for the holiday, I find your imitation of a hanging man thoroughly troubling and offensive.

A few years ago, my little brother committed suicide by hanging himself in our parents' backyard. As you can imagine, driving past your home is unbearably traumatic for my entire family. I realize that you may not have considered the impact such a sight might have on young children as well as on families affected by suicides or lynchings, but please put yourself in the position of my mother. Imagine the trauma you would experience finding your own child hanging by his neck from a tree in your yard, xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx(intentionlly removed because its graphic) We live too close to your home to be able to avoid seeing your yard and the man you have hung from your tree. I am begging you to please consider removing it from sight, for the sake of mine and other families who have been so unfortunate as to have experience with hangings, as well as for the sake of the young children in the area, who might also be traumatized by the sight.

Thank you for your compassion.

The letter was signed by people I have never heard of or met. And like I said, I've pretty much made up my mind on how I'm going to handle this, but I would like to know what others' thoughts are. I realize that this subject is touchy, always realized it...but the rest of our display is pretty much kid friendly.



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Tim, I have no reason to believe that the letter is not true. They did sign it and it would be a simple matter to check, which I will.

The "sigh" moment comes when I think about the many hours I have into Dead Man's Party, that is the only rub, otherwise I have no problem taking him down. I haven't given any thought to how I can use that prop elsewhere. If someone can come up with something, I'm all ears because he really is pretty cool.

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Nice display. My nephew died of an accidental hanging while playing around with a friend...they were swinging on a rope etc... definitely traumatic for the friend he was playing with.

Looking at the picture honestly I thought it was Howie Mandel so my nephew saw not on the top of my mind. But, if I were seeing it on a regular basis, and if my wife saw it I know it would bring back tough memories.

I agree with tfischer that perhaps another use for Howie would be a good way to use him but not stress out the neighbor who is reliving the loss of a sibling. At the same time I certainly understand the efforts you put into the display, and that it is just a display for Halloween so would not go out of my way to stick a note in your box etc...

It's a tough position for you to be in...in my mind you certainly would not be out there intending to cause harm or pain to your neighbors or you wouldn't put up a nice display. It is a very nice display!!!

Sorry to hear your neighbors had to stick a note in the box instead of approaching you for an adult conversation about the situation.

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Bah! If you modify your display to placate these people they'll just find someone else to bother. While I can empathize with them, what they are doing is looking for a means to externalize their suffering. You're just the easiest thing for them to strike out against.

I had someone send me an email on a column I wrote years ago about Bryan Norcross (a local TV weather man). He was upset that the link to the column on my website was entitled "Bryan Norcross Sucks". (If you haven't seen my site, 95% of the links have the word "sucks" in them.) He said his mother had been conforted by Bryan's voice during hurricane Andrew back in 1982 or whatever.

I told him that was a nice story but "No, I won't remove the article."

For the record: The article was pretty much an homage to Bryan Norcross.

I'm tired of stupid, pushy people.

Edited by ChuckHutchings
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"All dressed up with nowhere to go

Walking with a dead man

Waitin' for an invitation to arrive . . ."

Sorry for your troubles Carrie. Rather than having a "hanging man", could he be modified into a zombie . . . coming up out of one of those many tombs you have on display. He's all dressed up for the dead man's party afterall. Good luck and Happy Halloween.

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"All dressed up with nowhere to go

Walking with a dead man

Waitin' for an invitation to arrive . . ."

Sorry for your troubles Carrie. Rather than having a "hanging man", could he be modified into a zombie . . . coming up out of one of those many tombs you have on display. He's all dressed up for the dead man's party afterall. Good luck and Happy Halloween.

Heh. Good idea.

I like you already. Welcome to PC. :)

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Having literally found a actually dead man hanging from a tree while at work.....it could be a lot more gory. On some aspect, I can see both side of the coin. One side, it does look very realistic and could easily bring back memories. On the other side, you can always not look at it when you drive by or take another route home. I think I would find out how close of neighbors they are and then decide. Did they go to every display that has something hanging and ask then to take it down.

As far as other options...

I like the Zombie Idea....If you can get him to stand up and put his arms out in front of him likes he's walking towards your the exit from your little grave yard there...that would be cool.

Edited by ChrisL1976
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But, let's say you take it down and move it to another location. Won't everytime they drive by your house and see the hanged man somewhere else in the display, won't they still have thoughts about there family members hanging? Because of they remebered that it once was a hanged man.

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if it were me, I'd research and see just how close they really live. maybe even go over and chat with them. let them know that you mean no one any ill feeling or wish to bring back such difficult memories. don't ask them what they think you should do with the display as it would only invite more critisism. I'd probably take him down until Halloween and then hang him bcak up and run the show as scheduled, letting them know he will be back in the tree for the night so they can avoid your house when trick or treating.

don't change a one day show just because someone else doesn't like it

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Maybe you should buy them a commemorative gift.

Might I suggest this:


(Oh, Lord, I do apologize for that. Not.)

Now, thats funny right there! LOL


What if you take him down. Then when you put up your Christmas display you get another note that says. "My younger brother hung himself at Christmas time and your display is just to hard for us to see." What then?

Stranger things have happen.

I will say though, that could be a hard decision for the person having to make it!!! I would certainly have to know more before just taking it down.

Edited by roberson3
Thought I saw a misspelled word. ; )
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All these comments bring to mind the saying.....you cant please everyone, all the time. No matter what you do, someone in the world will be offended by something. If you make a zombie out of him and next week you get a letter saying my young child is deadly afraid of Zombies and we'd like you to take it down.....then what? Understandably, this is a touchy tough situation. Its a fine line of being a compassionate neighbor and just giving into censorship because someone doesn't like something.

I do really like the compromise Idea... If you can contact them and basically tell them....I will move it till "x" number of days before Halloween at which that point it will be put back up to complete my original display concept. During those days they can just avoid your house. I would definitely have it up on Halloween night for sure!!!!!

What would you do if someone came and saw our Christmas Show and asked you to not play one of your songs because its associated with a bad memory.

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Well as other say I can see both sides of the coin but are they going to always feel this way whenever they see anything hanging?? This is a HALLOWEEN display. I have to admit growing up Halloween was ALOT scarier then it is today. I believe that disney has tamed it down so much that it is a tenth of what it used to be. Anyone remember years ago around this time the theaters would be PACKED with new horror movies? I am not sure what to do but I have faith you will figure it out carrie. What worried me is if you put a baby jesus blowmold in the yard for Christmas and get the same sort of thing because there is a family that is atheist...... I mean to me it would be like getting a note saying we do not support the person whose sign you have in your yard and it is upsetting me every time I see that you are going to vote for that moron. Freedom of speech is a right that we used to have here in America but more and more it looks like even that is being taken away.

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Hey Carrie,

I wonder if you/they would consider a slight adjustment to your display that might make it tolerable, and a little humerous with one slight adjustment. I recently saw this sign in our local area which gave me the idea. By moving the noose from the neck to the ankle, you could turn your deadman into an innocent victim of your ghoulish graveyard. :)

Just a thought.



Edited by WWNF911
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well, can't add much more than what's already been said but...

you're never going to please everyone. if these are neighbors of yours then the person who dropped off the letter could have made the attempt to speak face to face with you and at least hand you the letter in person.

And as others have said, if you take it down where will it stop?

are they going to write another letter saying that the tombstones remind them of their family member as well and find that offensive also?

a bit extreme on my part but hopefully you get my point. this sounds like someone that has not dealt with their grief fully.

oh, and with handing you the letter I meant if they took the time to write the letter they should have taken the time to meet you. if the name doesn't sound familiar how can they put such a demand on you. for all you know they live two blocks away and just drive by from time to time ( I know they say they can see your yard but still)

just my opinion but personally I would keep it up. can't say I'd do the same if they actually spoke to me though.

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OK, Going on the premises "You can't please everyone all the time"...

Do you discontinue your Christmas display because someone wasn't paying attention one night and wrecked while driving by and viewing a display and someone was killed? What if you get a story of someone getting electrocuted to death from an improperly wired display?

Do you quit cutting your grass because the neighbor cut his foot off with a mower?

Do they quit driving because someone was killed in a car wreck?

Yes they are neighbors and you don't need to stir __it, but there are tons of what if's. The trail of peoples consciouses are limitless. How many are you going to try to appease before you just have to discontinue the show altogether.

BTW, I believe most deaths end up in the GRAVEYARD with TOMBSTONES that have FENCES up around them. Are you gonna remove these elements of your display too?

Just curious.

Good luck Carrie.

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Parts of your post that cause me to be somewhat sceptical:

There was a piece of paper sticking out the mailbox.

... I find your imitation of a hanging man thoroughly troubling and offensive.

A few years ago, my little brother committed suicide by hanging himself in our parents' backyard.

... families affected by suicides or lynchings,

...the sake of mine and other families who have ... have experience with hangings, ... the sake of the young children in the area

The letter was signed by people I have never heard of or met.

This passing happened a few years ago, but they have been in your neighborhood all this time?

Why would they bring lynchings into the letter? The two things are so different.

I would think a google search on the peoples names would pull up some validation of the brothers passing. A look through the phone book would most likely find where they lived in proximity to you.

If their statements of the brother's passing are correct and they live such as to have NO WAY of getting to their home without going pass yours, my heart would suffer for them. I'm a very skeptical person and would need proff of their statments before doing anything. That being said, if proof was acchieved, I would not be able to walk out my front door without thinking of the story and tearing up. But that is just me.

Good luck and let us know how it turns out.

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As soon as i started reading your letter, I knew what the outcome was. Teen suicide by hanging is a lot more common than people think and has been on the rise.

I don't know that I would attempt to track them down to talk to them. How would that go? 'Hello, you don't know me but I want to talk about by hanging man Halloween display and your dead son?' Then you whip out your electronic hangman game {Chuck started it} I don't know if I would change my display. I live in a residential neighborhood, don't like it, go the other way.

However, if you are thinking about making a change, another idea would be to build an electrocution machine. You could use curtain strobes, build a Jacob's ladder and add a small electric motor to make him shake.

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I wouldn't move it. If you do, I'm coming to all of your houses and demanding that you remove lights since my uncle was electrocuted. (He wasn't, but see how this works).

Find the people. Send them a letter. Express your sympathy to them (I know all of us are). Explain to them that this is a caricature and in no way represents their relative.

Then go in for the kill (of the situation). Ask if they set up a memorial fund/charity/whatever in the name of their relative. Offer (and follow through) to donate your time/money to the charity.

Now, 1 of 3 things will happen: 1 - They will understand that you are not the enemy and the donation seals the deal. 2 - They will be as irate as before. 3 - There is no charity (roll again until you get 1 or 2).

#1 puts them on your side - the prop stays up.

#2 means they are jerks - keep the prop up

#3 gives you a greater percentage that they come to your side.

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