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Credit where due

blitzline.jpgAt first, I found it hard to know where to lay the blame in the death of Jdimytai Damour, the security guard who was trampled to death in an early-morning stampede on one of my local WalMarts.

Were the stores negligent? The family thinks so. There wasn’t enough security, and Jdimytai, a temporary seasonal worker, wasn’t trained. A local retail worker’s union blamed unsafe work conditions and inadequate security. The Times faulted the police for leaving before the riot started. Other theories include advertising calculated to work up a stadium seating-style frenzy over being the first in the door to buy crap nobody needs (the sign in the picture was hung outside) which you can only get if you get there first

Shoppers around the country lined up early outside stores in the annual bargain hunting ritual known as Black Friday. Many stores open early and stay open late, and some of the most dramatic bargains are available in limited quantities.

Among the bargains offered by Wal-Mart for Friday were Samsung 50-inch high definition Plasma TVs for less than $800.

 Some of them were really quite heated about it

Black Friday is discussed with a giggle or two and investing millions in "doorbuster" ad campaigns that begin earlier and earlier each year. Another trend has popped up since the launch of many a successful Black Friday campaign: more people are dying every year on Black Friday.

Dear Murderers: 

Your ad campaigns and deep discounts on very limited inventory are killing people. That’s right, getting people into your stores early so they can get a cheap holiday price on the four items you’ve reserved at a loss is causing harm.

Last year, people died. The year before, people died. This year, people died. Unless you start acting responsibly, people will die next year. In spite of what the courts or your fleet of attorneys might tell you, you’re at least partially responsible for their deaths.

You knew that people have been dying in your stores or while waiting in lines in the freezing cold for years. Instead of organizing, preparing, and acting accordingly, you continue to feed the beast.

The most heinous death from this year’s poorly organized frenzy came in the form of a New York man being trampled to death in the early hours of Black Friday. A Wal-Mart in Valley Stream, N.Y., was the site of a gruesome death of a Wal-Mart employee as the doors opened for the doorbuster sale.

Oddly enough, I didn’t see any Wal-Mart executives waiting in the cold or interrupting their holiday joy in line for the blitz. I guess the campaigns were a wrap and they were enjoying time with their families. Perhaps the bean counters had already explained that higher revenues would more than make up for wrongful death and personal injury suit losses from inciting riots and killing people.

David Carr blamed the media. Fox blamed people who tried to cut the line.

Of course, they’re all wrong. I know that now that the new girl at Mr. Giuliani’s favorite capitalism-friendly think tank, the Manhattan Institute, explained to me on Fox News who the real villain is

A police spokesman initially said that investigators were poring over cell phone and surveillance camera images to determine whether anyone might be criminally liable. But later, he said he doubted that individual shoppers would be blamed, given the difficulty of identifying them on film or proving that individuals in the frenzied mob intended to kill Mr. Damour.

That’s too bad. Because the shoppers who pushed him to the ground to save about $100 on a $798 Samsung 50-inch Plasma HDTV, or $65 dollars on a $134.84 Samsung 10.2 digital camera, or $3 for “The Incredible Hulk” DVD, which normally retails at $9, deserve public opprobrium at very least, if not jail. They continued shopping as paramedics pounded on Mr. Damour’s chest, trying to revive him. They complained when the store was closed so that his body could be removed. And they flocked to the store at 1 p.m. when the branch re-opened for business, obscenely, as if nothing had happened.

Attorney Hecht, targeting Wal-Mart and other companies, was quick to absolve shoppers of blame. “They are not responsible,” he told FOX News earlier this week.

Perhaps greed is not criminal and behaving like a crazed animal is understandable in light of tough economic times. But I think many Americans would disagree, even avid shoppers like me.

It wasn’t (she lists) Bush, or the police not taking control of an incipient riot or the press, or the system, or advertising, or capitalism. It was selfish, self-absorbed people who wanted their own way so badly that their greed and heedlessness crushed life out, and even now they don’t face – or feel – the shame they deserve to for the damage they’ve done.

Hells yeah, I get it now. Even an avid shopper knows that. You own the lives you cost. Opprobium them without lube, honey. Right the fuck on. 

coffins.thumbnail.jpg Thanks, Judy Miller.

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Middle-aged (thank god); married (oddly enough); native New Yorker; one (thoroughly magnificent, thanks) child, She Who Must Be Obeyed, aka HM (Her Majesty). But a mere lowly end-user by profession, and a former [pretty much everything, at least in somewhat limited first-world terms].

Extravagant (mostly organic) cook, slapdash (completely organic) gardener, brain space originally assigned to names and faces piled up with the overflow from the desperately overcrowded Old Movie and Broadway Trivia section, garage space which was originally assigned to a car piled up with boxes of books.

Dreadful housekeeper, indifferent dresser, takeout menu ninja and the proud owner of a major percentage of the partially finished crafts projects on the east coast of the continental United States.

The handsome gentleman in the picture is Hoa Hakananai'a. He joined the collection of the British Museum in 1868. His name, which is thought to mean "stolen or hidden friend," was given to him by his previous owners when he was collected.