Saturday, November 30, 2013

Black Friday 2013 - Not for the Highlight Reel of Human Civilization

Cell phone picture of a Black Friday fight in a Wal-Mart store.
As an American raised to treat others with civility and respect it's frankly embarrassing to see some of the stories posted on foreign Websites like this one on offering a  stunning list of different accounts of crowd violence that took place in stores across the nation on Black Friday.

Friday November 29th was definitely NOT a "leader of the free world" type of moment.

Amateur cell phone photos, like the one at left taken inside a Wal-Mart, or this video from the NBC10 News Philadelphia Website of a woman using a taser on another woman during a fight in the Franklin Mills Mall in Pennsylvania are all over the Web.

Honestly, what sale item or markdown is worth going into Macy's with 15,000 other people?

While adult individuals in this country are responsible for their own actions (morally, ethically and legally) some measure of blame has to be laid at the feet of mainstream media and the large advertisers blanketing the Internet, television, radio, newspaper, outdoor billboards and social media with this flood of Black Friday commercial marketing to consumers that's reinforced by the news for weeks.

For 24 hours a day the television new media in particular helps whip people into this irrational frenzy, then sit back and marvel at the violence, crowding and chaos that results. Even if this is a consumer economy, shouldn't there be some basic levels of order in place to ensure the public safety?

Maybe I'm getting more fussy as I age but some of the young children I saw on news clips and pictures who were out in these stores past 11:30pm had no business being up that late; or even SEEING adults act that way in public. Witnessing that kind of behavior cannot be healthy for the emotional development of children; it's certainly not going to help make them grow up to be better adults.

Speaking of responsible adults, on a more positive note The reports on a CBS New York story about some Brooklyn parents and community leaders who are rallying to take a more proactive stance against the Knockout Game; a demented activity trend among some New York City kids that's been in the media quite a bit lately.

When shoppers start to riot over cheap stuff, or kids consider walking up and punching an innocent 78 year-old woman in the head as happened in East New York recently as something fun to do - it's time for politicians on the local, state and Federal level to step it up and act in the public interest.

If Congress can spend time voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act over 43 times, or bringing legislation to the floor of the House that would grant an unborn fetus Constitutional rights, they can certainly do something to force retailers and advertisers to take more responsibility for crowd control measures. Rather than just promote their sales, open their doors then expect the tax payer to just foot the bill for local police to come restore order when things go south.  

We're a better country than that; or at least we should expect to be.

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