During a montage sequence in the movie Ghostbusters, we see a copy of The Atlantic agazine with the headline, "The Politics from the Next Dimension: Do Ghosts Have Civil Rights?" The Awl's Michael Phelan was inspired by that cover and wrote an essay as it might have appeared in the 1984 publication if it were real. He did a great job with it, and you can read an excerpt from it below. To read the whole thing, click here! Below, I've also included artist Dan Schoening's take on the cover.
"Frankly, there's no accepted case law on the undead at the moment," Dr. Spengler added, "but taking into account the inter-dimensional nature of these entities, I would argue that this is largely an immigration issue or a contraband issue depending on the sentience. Technically, INS should be deporting spirits of the deceased, as well as the other apparitions, the demons. We submitted a contract proposal, actually, but they haven't responded."
When this topic arose, I finally summoned the courage to ask the Ghostbusters about their containment unit, which Stantz, Spengler and Venkman led me downstairs to see. The ultimate spooky basement, the bottom floor of the firm's TriBeCa headquaters is an ever-increasing summation of every other haunted basement in the world. Behind a phalanx of cautionary industrial signage, a red-painted steel casing, and an energy-intensive magnetic field, lies every spook, specter, apparition, ghoul and ghost captured by the Ghostbusters. Again: allegedly. Listening to the unnerving hum of the containment unit, I asked again about the ethical dimensions of corralling these seemingly conscious beings indefinitely within the company's high-tech purgatory.
"We all feel kinda bad about the Sedgwick slimer," Stantz told me. "After some of the hauntings we've witnessed in the past month, there's definitely something endearing about a ghost whose only crime is maniacally pigging out."
"He also smelled like onions," according to Venkman. "I'm not letting him out of there."