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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Wal-Mart Madness

    Nothing kicks off the holiday season quite like a stampede of 2,000 bargain-seeking shoppers.

    Last week, a Wal-Mart employee was devoured by a crowd that seemed to care little about the man they trampled. Even with help trying to clear the scene in order to resuscitate the dying worker, it took several minutes before the torrent of crazed customers dispersed. The employee was later declared dead as a result of his injuries.

    There are many disturbing facts about this crime, but perhaps the most profound question now is “How and who will be charged for this murder?” Nobody has been formally prosecuted yet, since there were too many people to identify any one person as responsible for the man’s death. Perhaps the police should have barred the doors after arriving on a scene with an apparent murder.

    According to CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin, even though the case is not “intentional homicide,” shoppers could be charged with “criminal negligence.” It will take reviewing the video surveillance footage in detail to try to determine specific individuals who were involved in the crime.

    What is most shocking about all of this is how the swarms of shoppers never stopped to ask themselves, “Hey, maybe we should stop to help this guy instead of stomping him to death?”

    The case here is clear: crazy Black Friday shoppers valued getting a good deal on their Christmas shopping more than a person’s life. To them, the sales were worth the risk of causing injury, and in this sad instance, death.

    Some might argue that the chaos of the situation, the confusion and sheer number of people involved may have prevented many from even realizing that somebody was hurt. That is one possible explanation, but the truth of the matter is that there were specific shoppers who must have realized that they were literally running over a person to get into the store.

    The last time I waited outside of a store for it to open was two years ago. The Nintendo Wii was the new hot ticket item and it seemed worth sitting out in the cold night for several hours just for a chance to get my hands on one. Luckily, when the doors opened, there was no stampede, but thinking back I wonder how I would have reacted in such a situation. The Wii is a great system, but honestly, it is not worth manslaughter charges to get ahold of one.

    This case will probably remain in the news for a while. Although it is one rare instance, this kind of violence says a lot about consumerism in modern America.

    Spending money and getting good deals are great, but when someone dies as a clear result of shopper madness, the people involved really need to take a look in the mirror and ask themselves a simple question: “Is it really worth it?”

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