Top Sales of the Year or Innocent Lives: You Choose

Trevor Rechnitz

For a time of giving thanks and appreciating what you have been blessed with, the shopping tradition of “Black Friday” epitomizes everything that’s wrong with the holiday season. What better way to bring out the evil in people than to put thousands of them in a Best Buy parking lot and tell them there’s only 400 discount Blu-Ray players in stock?

The shopping tradition, whose name was coined by Philadelphia Police to describe the mob-like traffic that occurred annually on the Friday after Thanksgiving, starts with blind Americans waking up at one in the morning to be at the head of the stampede that breaks in to the local Wal-Mart, an hour before the store opens at 4:00 a.m.

Jdimytai Damou was one of the first victims of the mob mentality that is so prevalent on Black Friday. Damou, a Long-Island Wall-Mart employee, was trampled as a mob of eager shoppers broke through the doors of the store and left Damou dead along with four others brutally injured. The madness doesn’t stop here.

Emergency workers arrived on the scene to try and perform CPR on Damou, but were also stepped on by wide-eyed shoppers, streaming into the store. Even when directed to leave by police, people kept shopping. Come on, people. As blissful as a $529 plasma TV sounds, a human life has to be revered with some sort of respect.

In 2008, three people were killed on Black Friday. One more time, three human lives were lost because of people trying to get a jump on their holiday shopping. One woman was beaten to death over a box of ornaments. There was a scuffle in a Target parking lot over a parking space. And finally, an alleged gang-related shooting in a Toys R Us, and I’ll bet the one remaining set of Callaway golf clubs had something to do with it.

Where’s the line? At what point do we stop the madness of Black Friday and put in something more reasonable and less lethal?

Maybe in order to receive a discount, people do an hour or two of community service. Or, instead of angry mobs at the door, we implement the “take a number-now serving” system. We need to turn Black Friday into a celebration that coincides with the holiday it follows, instead of what it is now: a direct opposition to the ideals that we’re supposed to be celebrating.

How can we juxtapose a holiday of love with a tradition of pure selfishness? I’m pushing the idea of spending time together, not money. I’m happy to go see a movie with my family on Black Friday, and then of course watch the highlights of all the fights on YouTube the next morning.

I do, however, understand the driving force behind these shoppers. After suffering through a tough economic year, shoppers are hungry for any sort of economic win. The American spirit tells us to bounce back at all costs.

But you have to look at the big picture: how do you want to bounce back? Waking up in the wee hours of the morning, drinking four cups of coffee, and stampeding your way to cheap cologne? Or inviting friends and family over to enjoy some football and go take a walk in the park? As much as I love to smell good, I think I’ll take the latter.