Black Friday behavior was appalling, deadly

By Web Master

For years, Thanksgiving has symbolically protected Americans from the onslaught of consumerism brought on by Christmas like an ever-weakening levee in a mighty rainstorm.

This year, the levee tragically broke as a mob of frenzied “Black Friday” shoppers smashed through a Long Island Wal-Mart’s doors, trampling 34 year-old employee Jdimytai Damour to death and injuring four others, including a woman that was eight months pregnant.

The idea of shoppers fighting over bargains is nothing new. Every year, post-Thanksgiving sales urn ordinary people into raving lunatics.

However, this year it seems that a certain line has been crossed. “Black Friday” is no longer the day that businesses attempt to climb out of “the red” by offering bargains; instead, it has been replaced with images of injury and death.

Tough economic times are certainly in part to blame for this particularly chaotic scene.

Many stores order their holiday inventory months in advance because some of the items are imported. Retailers did not forsee the current recession and could not plan their purchases around it.

Now, they have a surplus of inventory and not a large demand for it at least at full price. Consumers with less to spend are eager to make large-scale purchases at discount prices.

Retailers also share some of the blame for Damour’s death. Placing a warm, well-lit store in front of cold, frenzied shoppers is a recipe for disaster and a breeding ground for chaos.

However, several chain stores have safeguards in place to avoid a catastrophe like this.

For example, CompUSA opened their doors at 9 p.m. Thursday night when it wouldn’t be so crowded and Best Buy only allowed customers with tickets, given hours ahead of time, to make good on discounts offered.

Admittedly, the media is also at fault. “Black Friday” provides media with opportunities for snappy headlines, photographs and stories “from the warfront” — all requisites for a great story. Clearly, the media should have better things to discuss in this time of relaxation and reflection.

However, in breaking down the doors of that Long Island Wal-Mart and the supposed innocence of “Black Friday,” blame should fall most on the backs of consumers.

Indeed, it wasn’t the media that killed Damour, nor was it Wal-Mart, Santa, Tickle Me Elmo or Ben Bernanke. It was the fault of his fellow citizens, none of whom were arrested or will be prosecuted. People and their actions kill people, whether it is one person with a gun or a mob of shoppers acting as one.

This group of shoppers was not only violent but also uneducated in their frenzy. Due to the large amount of inventory that stores need to get rid of, many are offering deals well into the holiday season. The shoppers that killed Damour over a discount could have found the same deal that Monday.

Especially in these times of economic crisis, it is important to help protect strangers as well as friends and family. The holiday help at your favorite big box chain is as important to someone as our loved ones are to us, even if we do not know them personally. The idea of hurting one person to buy another person a gift is repulsive. Sometimes, it’s OK to be disappointed on the holidays if it means safety for those around you.