I have a friend who is frightened of clowns. I don't mean that she doesn't like them, or even that she hates them, I don't mean that she would rather not meet one in a dark alley.
I'm saying that the mere sight of a clown will cause possibly-pee-your-pants paralysis.
I would hate to see what would happen if she DID meet one in a dark alley, but suffice to say, she's extremely healthy and would probably survive the massive coronary. Probably.
In the 5 years that I have known her, I have tried my best to protect her from the clowns. They are everywhere. I have learned to scope out the garage sales before she gets out of the car so that I can tell her where not to look until I can turn pictures around or hide dolls. We don't go to the circus. No haunted house at Halloween (the year we worked at one, we knew where the clown was and she was mostly able to avoid it) Parades are a frightening ordeal. In fact, she put on the next parade application that we need to be as far away from clowns as possible because we were RIGHT BEHIND them last time and she almost had to leave.
I'm one of the few people who gets it.
Most people are assholes.
Here's the thing. It's one thing to know someone doesn't like something. It's a whole other thing to intentionally expose them to that thing. And when the thing in question is an outright phobia? It's downright cruel.
I've seen scary clown stickers left on her car windshield. The kind with brightly colored noses and long pointy teeth placed in a manner in which she cannot help but view it upon sitting down in her car. I've been there when people have sent text messages with clown photo attachments. They get posted to her facebook wall, emailed, you name it, people have made sure that she has exposure in every creative manner you can imagine.
Clearly they haven't seen her crouched in fear behind a pickup truck trying to avoid visual contact. Clearly they have not witnessed the reactions, the frozen fear, the sudden intake of breath.
Imagine people exposing you constantly and intentionally to the one thing that terrifies you most.
People don't get it. People can be assholes. I expect this sort of behavoir from children who have not yet learned that other people are people with thoughts and feelings too, but not out of adults. Especially adults who like you.
This is not a woman who offends easily. The things she jokes about would make a porn writer blush. She loves a good prank and can take a joke.
I don't think this is a laughing matter. As I pointed out to her last night:
Would you put a clausterphobic in a coffin?
I didn't think so.