How many human lives is a flat panel TV worth?
I think that the iPhone is a neato gadget. I couldn't believe that people stood in line for them. The final Star Wars movie was decent - I waited for the DVD. Some people camped outside the damn theater.
There are very few things that are important enough, to me, to stand in line to purchase. This is partly because I don't like people, and thus try to avoid milling among them for any amount of time. This is also because there's just no purchasable item that I find worth my time. It's also, partly, a product of my upbringing. My mother is simply not much of a bargain shopper, and certainly never waited outside of a store for more than a few minutes (nevermind hours) in order to get inside and snatch up the first discounted television set that she saw.
This is why I am so completely baffled that a 270 pound man was trampled to death by rabid shopopers at a Wal-mart in Long Island this past Friday.
Now, stampedes happen. Whenever people desperately flee to a new area and arrive at a bottleneck of somekind, someone is going to get hurt. You hear about it occasionally on the news: pligrims trampled in Ramadan pilgrimage. Nigerians tramped in riot. These are stampedes that make a tiny bit more sense in m brain: religious pilgrimages are emotional events, involving lots of activity and numerous people. While I am not religious, I can see why this might happen in, say, Mecca. Or in a poor country where people are scrounging for food.
But this happened in Long Island. In the USA. Over Walmart merchandise.
Let me repeat this: a man was trampled to death. A temporary employee of Wal-mart, Jdimytai Damour, was crushed under the feet of shoppers eager to get their hands on cheap. Chinese-made goods. Shopper literally broke down the glass doors to the Wal-mart where Damour was working, and he remained under the door as hundreds of people clambored over the top of him. Imagine stepping over a man lying prone beneath a sheet of glass. Can you fathom that? Could you? For what? What could possibly allow human beings to behave like homicidal lemmings.
I don't doubt that many people shop at Wal-mart in order to save money, but I seriously doubt that this insane mob of people consisted mostly of suburban mothers looking for jumbo-sized diaper packs. No, these were people looking for slashed prices on electronics, outdoor gear, and clothing. These were bargain shoppers, for sure, but no one who stepped on Damour's chest was there because they had run out of bread and heating oil.
What have we come to? Is 20% off of a LCD television really worth the life of a man like Damour? Is it worth anything? How can anyone stand in line for this stuff? Wal-mart, really? Listen, I know I can be an elitist sometimes, but I occasionally shop at Walmart. But regardless of how good the deals are, how could any, or all, of the merchadise inside a Wal-mart be worth the life of a single person?