Saturday, November 29, 2008

Sign of the Apocalypse #59: Trampling death at Wal-Mart

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Capt. Fogg wrote about the Wal-Mart trampling death yesterday -- and I'm calling it yet another Sign of the Apocalypse -- but I couldn't resist posting this headline from the AP:

Here's the deal:

Police were reviewing video from surveillance cameras in an attempt to identify who trampled to death a Wal-Mart worker after a crowd of post-Thanksgiving shoppers burst through the doors at a suburban store and knocked him down.

Criminal charges were possible, but identifying individual shoppers in Friday's video may prove difficult, said Detective Lt. Michael Fleming, a Nassau County police spokesman.

Other workers were trampled as they tried to rescue the man, and customers stepped over him and became irate when officials said the store was closing because of the death, police and witnesses said.

At least four other people, including a woman who was eight months pregnant, were taken to hospitals for observation or minor injuries. The store in Valley Stream on Long Island closed for several hours before reopening.

It's a horrible story, obviously. And, to me, it's even worse when it's juxtaposed with the recent horrific events in Mumbai. Not because, in and of itself, it's worse than the attacks in Mumbai, and certainly not because the Wal-Mart killers are worse than the Mumbai killers, but because while there is serious shit going on in the world, both serious violence and serious suffering, serious shit that deserves our serious attention and our serious efforts to fix the problems that cause it, the Wal-Mart incident, an incident of lethal violence, however unintentional, was, at its core, a display of disgusting, out-of-control greed. It's like, with all the serious shit going on in the world, of which the attacks in Mumbai are a stark, news-dominating example, all these pathetic people care about is themselves -- about consuming more and more and more, about filling up their meaningless lives with material goods, with no apparent concern for others beyond their narrow, self-absorbed existences.

And don't think it was just the 2,000 or so people who lined up before 5 am at that particular Wal-Mart. There are countless more just like them, brutally rapacious and more than willing to storm and trample and kill in search of that must-have sale item, or whatever it is they need, or have been told they need, whatever it is they think will make them happy, common decency and everyone else be damned.

As George Costanza once shouted, when confronted with anti-social behaviour, "We're living in a society!"

But are we?

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