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The Wal-Mart Black Friday Death Blame Game

by Daniel Brenton on December 1, 2008

in The Meaning of Existence (and all that)

Start: Just quickly:

Jdimytai Damour, a temporary employee for the Wal-Mart at Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream, New York, died by being trampled as a surging mob of Black Friday holiday shoppers knocked the doors off of their hinges at the 5:00 AM opening time.

Local authorities are reviewing the video of the incident and are searching for participants in this needless death.

I suspect that Wal-Mart is probably already attempting to settle with the Damour family, to head off what would be a case that would bring nothing but ugly, ugly press. At least I would hope they’re smart enough to do that.

Not surprisingly, this event has chewed up a lot of space on the “blogosphere.”

One blog I ran across, which will remain nameless, used this story as the basis of a satirical piece, claiming that President-Elect Obama cited this as an indication the economy is recovering.

The author of this obviously has issues, and probably should go do some community service in a child’s burn ward to regain a smattering of humanity.

(Just a thought.)

In my last post I noted who was to blame. I am seeing some agreement, but largely, the overall response is a lot of finger-pointing.

So, let’s think about this, shall we?


We now interrupt this blog post for
an emergency expanded edition of:

(dah dah dummmmm … )
STO:  State! The Obvious.


Today we discuss who to blame in the needless death of Wal-Mart temporary employee Jdimytai Damour.

• Item: Let’s Blame Wal-Mart.

• The Obvious: Okay, everyone hates Wal-Mart — except, of course, the millions of people who shop there, and CBS News who gets a great load of revenue from the retail titan. Clearly, given the situation, the management on site didn’t act adequately to mitigate the situation to protect their people.

But they didn’t cause that crowd to gather, and they didn’t reach into the minds of all those people and cause them to act like a bunch of Buchenvald storm troopers.

• Item: Let’s Blame the Unions.

(Interesting, huh?)

Calvinists 4 Conservatism (this seems like a redundant statement to me) went so far to suggest the Unions are responsible for this, because of an insistence on a 40 hour work week. In a real “right to work” state, most likely the store would have been open 24/7 (except for Christmas itself) and obviously would have no store opening time to negotiate an opening event.

• The Obvious: The bottom line here is that the individuals that made up that mob all made the decision to abandon their humanity. As is probably obvious, I’m no fan of Unions, but the Union didn’t make them do that.

• Item: Let’s Blame the Police.

• The Obvious: Hmmmmm …

The New York Post reports that a witness noted the crowd became restless after the police left. The article notes: “Law-enforcement officials said police had patrolled the mall throughout the night, but that shopping lines are ‘not something we would normally police.'”


I don’t know what the situation looked like to officers on the scene — but as any driver will tell you, the presence of a police vehicle will modify your behavior. I will concede that law enforcement agencies usually have to manage their resources intelligently, so personally I would have to suspend judgment on this.

But, again, the police’s absence did not force the crowd to go berserk.

• Item: Let’s Blame Consumerism.

At The Huffington Post, Dr. Judith Rich, a teacher in the field of transformation and consciousness, claims consumption has become a competitive sport, and blames a “guerrilla” mentality that has grown like a cancer in our culture.

• The Obvious: I’m no fan of “keeping up with the Joneses,” but to blame a cultural bias for manslaughter is to suggest that our culture forces us to abdicate personal responsibility for our own conscience.

Don’t buy that one. This is just making Capitalism the scapegoat.

Doctor Rich, someone who teaches about “transformation and consciousness” should recognize that morals and empathy are aspects of consciousness. I am at a loss to understand why you don’t get that.

(Have you noticed that most of the transformational crowd just hates the Right?)

(And Capitalism?)

(That’s funny … didn’t Capitalism give us all the opportunity to have a podium to lambaste Capitalism?)

(Uh … well … )

(And isn’t the Right part of God, too?)

(Er … uh … )

This concludes today’s emergency edition of
STO:  State! The Obvious.

A public service brought to you by this weblog.
(Please note: donations to this organization are not and never have been tax deductible.)


If I had been an owner of a business in a similar situation, I would have probably called the police to disperse the crowd and put up a sign after the police had arrived telling the crowd I would be opening later than all the other stores.

And I would have just dealt with my losses.

Better than dealing with a crippling lawsuit caused by the thoughtlessness and irresponsibility of the growing mob outside.

For those who didn’t catch my piece from the 29th, the finger pointing really points to nowhere. We can blame Wal-Mart, or the Unions, or the Police, or Consumerism, and maybe there’s some culpability, but none of these entities or “-isms” caused this situation. None of these single-handedly molded individuals into the kind of people where this type of behavior is acceptable, and none of them created individuals who were willing to tolerate or even passively or actively encourage the behavior in children, family, friends, co-workers, or leaders who exhibit it.

I suppose you could say they are all guilty, but this is missing the point completely.

Let’s just be honest with ourselves. We all know who is to blame. And we all know what the root cause is.

Look in the mirror. You probably have one.

Maybe you bought it at Wal-Mart.

Copyright © 2008, by Daniel Brenton. All Rights Reserved.


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Daniel Brenton is the creator/author of the 5 Second Novel series, co-author of the space race thriller Red Moon (with David S. Michaels), and is the author of the satirical column The Round Files, published in Stuart Miller's short-lived Alien Worlds Magazine.

Despite being a writer, Daniel has no cats at this time, is unwilling to become an alcoholic, and has a very difficult time keeping a straight face while writing about himself in third person.

Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and StumbleUpon.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Narayanan Doraswamy December 4, 2008 at 11:46 am

Great set of articles, Daniel. I have a few comments:
>>(That’s funny … didn’t Capitalism give us all the opportunity to have a podium to lambaste Capitalism?)

No it did not. Capitalism is NOT a precondition to democracy, freedom and liberty.

Freedom, liberty and democracy CANNOT be created by capitalism especially the laissez faire “free market” capitalism that we purport to have.

Capitalism can further the cause of democracy, can fan the flames of democracy, but democratic ideals are not the purview of money!

>>(Have you noticed that most of the transformational crowd just hates the Right?)

Transformation and Right (conservatism) do not, by definition go hand in hand. Conservatism is all about conservation, conserving the status quo. Sometimes the status quo is good and should be continued, but most of the time, something becomes “status quo” because it has become entrenched in society! That Yin perforce gives rise to the yang of wanting to overthrow the yin. Transformation and the transformational “crowd” seek to overturn status quo especially those that do not work any more. Even on a personal note, transformational workshops, books, seminars etc. do not ask yo uto throw away the baby with the bath water, they only urge you to transform that which is not working! i.e. status quo.

The conservative philosophy has resisted just about EVERY bit of change that has benefited society in the past. In the American example, emancipation of slaves, women’s right to vote, inter-racial marriage, you name it, conservatism has been against it. By the way, capitalism or free market society did not play a hand in it, the value of “majority cannot bully the minority in a free country” hardly a capitalistic ideal, was responsible for each of the above mentioned societal transformations. In the current elections (Proposition 8 in California), who has been mostly against gay marriage and who has been mostly for it? Which position is transformational?

I, for one, am happy that the yang of transformational efforts is usually tempered by the yin of conservatism.


Daniel Brenton December 4, 2008 at 4:31 pm

Narayanan —

Thanks for the visit. Appreciate the comments.

When I said …

(That’s funny … didn’t Capitalism give us all the opportunity to have a podium to lambaste Capitalism?)

I was actually being sarcastic and by all rights should have worded it differently to bring out my point more clearly. Dr. Judith Rich may or may not have been paid to contribute to The Huffington Post, but the Post is a business. Websites of that magnitude are there to make money, otherwise they wouldn’t be there. Capitalism gave her a platform — certainly that platform.

Likewise with my quip:

(Have you noticed that most of the transformational crowd just hates the Right?)

Just because someone thinks a particular political philosophy is more to their liking than another does not mean they are incapable of growing as a human being.

I based my little comment on a recent visit to a transformational (maybe I should just say “new age”) organization here in Vegas, where a group conversation made it clear the majority of folks in the room dismissed the (lame-duck) President and Vice-President as not part of the whole of which we are all. If we are One, the Right is part of the One.

This is my point. If I had piped up and said “Isn’t the Right part of the One?” I would have been judged by that group.

You and I know each other, and I know you wouldn’t do that to me.

(I do know you relish the debate, you you you.)

What that group was doing was operating at a level of bigotry … the same kind of bigotry the Hippie counter-culture showed toward anyone who wanted to operate within what was categorized by them as “the Establishment.”

One more point. I met Dr. Richard Alpert — also known as Ram Dass — many years ago. I wanted to give him my business card, and he dismissed me as a human being because I did this. I do not dismiss the man or his work (I in fact helped the process of recording his Journey of Awakening for the Library of the Blind), but he compartmentalized me into something beneath his respect, for whatever reason.

We are all One, or we are not.

We are all deserving of Love or we are not.

All I can say to the transformational set is walk the talk, or shut up.


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