Monday, October 15, 2007
Halloween Costumes Spark Protest
By Jeff Proctor
Journal Staff Writer
Valerie Lubitz says she's "terribly offended."
Chris Scott says he's "just running a family-owned business, trying to live the American Dream."
Never the two shall meet.
But they did on Friday, at Scott's Halloween Spirit Superstores in Albuquerque.
The flap: a couple of costumes sold at the stores on Montgomery and on Coors.
One is a nun's habit with an inflatable belly that makes the wearer appear pregnant. The other is a priest's cassock with an inflatable crotch.
Lubitz learned Scott was selling the costumes from an e-mail a friend sent her. So she went to the Montgomery store with her rosary and a sign reading: "This store promotes Catholic bigotry" and started "walking back and forth in front of the store" in protest.
"I said one Our Father and 10 Hail Marys," Lubitz said.
Scott and Lubitz had a brief conversation in which Scott said he would consider taking the costumes off the shelves.
He did not.
Instead, he reduced the number of the costumes to one apiece on the store's racks and posted signs at the entrance and at certain aisles:
"Attention, this store contains costumes of an adult nature and may be considered offensive to some. Parental discretion advised. Thank you."
Scott, himself a practicing Catholic, said he received several calls from others who were offended by the costumes.
"I wanted to meet them in the middle and make this right," Scott said. "But if anybody was out of line here, it was them. They were outside our store harassing people, saying, 'If you believe in God, you won't go in that store.'
"We've had these costumes since 2004, and just now someone wants to make an issue out of it. If we took everything that was potentially offensive to someone off the shelves, we wouldn't have anything to sell. It's a Halloween store."
Lubitz said she didn't like the way the "Catholic identity" was being portrayed.
"Why isn't there a rabbi, or a Muslim or a Protestant minister portrayed like that?" she said. "Nobody has any faith anymore.
"But if I had been busy doing the things I should've been doing the past several years praying more and being a good witness it wouldn't have come to this. There wouldn't be costumes like that."
Lubitz planned to go back to the Montgomery store over the weekend to demand again that the costumes be removed. And she intended to picket at the intersection of San Mateo and Montgomery.
For his part, Scott said he would happily sell a rabbi costume with an inflatable crotch if one were available.
"I've been doing this in Albuquerque for 16 years," he said. "It is not my intention in this community to make people upset. I wish we had those disclaimers up beforehand so this didn't become an issue in the first place."