Growing inequality, natural disasters and global warming. To that list of problems that are plaguing the world right now you can add creepy clowns, as the phenomenon that has caused fear and consternation across America has gone global.
A recent spate of nefarious clown sightings in the U.K. has gripped the nation in collective coulrophobia. On Oct. 11, a 19-year old student dressed as a clown in London was arrested for chasing two men with a chainsaw. In Manchester, a group of killer clowns wielding air rifles and machetes were reportedly chasing down and scaring pedestrians.
London police have pleaded with the ersatz harlequins to consider the climate of fear they are creating. "Anti-social behavior can leave people feeling scared, anxious and intimidated, and I would urge those who are causing fear and alarm to carefully consider the impact their actions have on others," said Metropolitan Police Commander Julian Bennett.
The problem in the U.K. has become so widespread that the Russian embassy took to Twitter to warn its citizens visiting the country to be on the lookout for creepy clowns.
Информация для граждан России - осторожно, "клоуны"! https://t.co/8wGmrp2MHE pic.twitter.com/ZXyGZXvzSA
- Посольство России (@RussianEmbassyR) October 12, 2016
Fed up with the official response to the clown menace, vigilante groups in the U.K. are now carrying out patrols, and some have come up with extremely novel ways to combat the Pennywise peril. In Cumbria, North West England, a man dressed as Batman has been chasing off creepy clowns in the hopes of making children feel safe, The Telegraph reported.
Australia's ABC reported that there have been 18 cases of clown sightings in the last two weeks in the state of Victoria alone. In one of the most serious incidents, on Oct. 9, a clown caused a fright by tapping on the window of a woman's car with an ax in a fast-food restaurant parking lot.
Australian police warned off copycat clowns. "I'd just encourage people to have a rethink if they're thinking about engaging in that behavior because it is really stupid," said Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton.
In New Zealand, clown sightings have been reported outside schools and inside universities. In the city of Hamilton, police currently are hunting two clowns connected to an attack on a woman as she walked home from a pub.
Despite clowns' stalking the American heartlands for the last year, the European press is speculating whether the current shudder of clowns (a rather disturbing yet apt collective noun) originated from the United States in the first place. Agence France-Presse reported that a similar unexplained phenomenon occurred in France and Belgium in 2014, with reports of armed gangs of clowns terrorizing people.
That outbreak in France two years ago died down after Halloween. The world can only hope that Nov. 1 heralds a creepy-clown-free future.