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the Bangor Daily News (Maine)

New Brand of Eager Holiday Shoppers

Just in case you are keeping track, I thought you’d like to know the score. Number of people killed on U.S. soil in 2008 terrorist attacks: zero. Number killed by holiday shoppers this past Friday: three.

The caption under the picture posted on the MSNBC Web site states, “Nassau County Police examine the front of the Wal-Mart in Valley Stream, N.Y., on Friday after a worker died when a throng of eager shoppers burst through the doors and trampled him.”

A throng of eager shoppers — sounds quite festive, actually. Maybe the eager shoppers didn’t notice poor Jdimytai Damour as they lunged through the door, racing to do their patriotic duty and get the economy rolling again. I suppose if there were 2,000 of them — and there were — they might not have noticed that they were trampling one man to death. But “dozens of store employees trying to fight their way out to help Damour were also getting trampled by the crowd” and four of the co-workers who rushed to save him got stomped so severely that they ended up in the hospital.

Thirty-four-year-old Damour died at about 6 a.m. He managed to live through just six hours of the holiday shopping season.

Zip over to another MSNBC story and you can read, “Two men pulled guns and shot each other to death in a crowded toy store Friday after the women with them erupted into a bloody brawl, witnesses said. Scared shoppers fled but no one else was hurt.” How fortunate for the other shoppers at — yeah, you guessed it — Toys “R” Us that the guys packing heat had such good aim. They only killed each other. They didn’t even shoot the women or the children whom they had accompanied to the store.

Toys “R” Us? Gadzooks, do you really need a sidearm when you go toy shopping? And does it make any sense to have a handgun in your pocket when you’re on an outing with your kids?

Although, if Jdimytai Damour had been packing a little heat, maybe he’d still be alive. He could have shot over the throng’s heads a few times to get their attention. He might not even have had to shoot anybody.

That brings up one of the most amazing quotes from the story about the eager Wal-Mart shoppers. It came from the official statement issued by the Wal-Mart corporation headquartered in Bentonville, Ark. They explained how they “tried to prepare for the crowd by adding staffers and outside security workers, putting up barricades and consulting police.”

Making this up? I only wish I were.

Wal-Mart actually was preparing for this. How do you prepare for crazed, wanton, unthinking, unfeeling mob brutality? And more importantly, why do you have to? Is the “Hulk” video for just $9 really all that important? Think about it: If all 2,000 shoppers bought one of those movies, which is regularly priced at about 22 bucks, they’d have saved $13 each. That means that Jdimytai Damour’s life was worth about $26,000 — because that’s what the total retail savings would have been on all those DVDs.

I don’t want to get all religious on anybody, because maybe the “holiday season” is enough to say when discussing why the shooters were in Toys “R” Us or the stampede happened at Wal-Mart. But let’s face it, you don’t have to read the Bible every day to know that “thou shalt not kill” is a pretty good credo to live by.

I mean heck, you can just watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and get a dose of moral fiber. According to the International Movie Data Base, it’s the second-longest-running Christmas special in the U.S. There was no way that anybody could have missed that show.

Remember the lesson? Charlie Brown wants Linus to go buy a big shiny Christmas tree for the school performance and Linus re-educates good ole Charlie Brown that shopping isn’t what Christmas is about. Then Linus gives that little speech that ends like this: “And on Earth peace, good will toward men.”

Good grief, maybe we ought to give up. Mattel can just make the “shoot me in the face Elmo” and call it good.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

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Pat LaMarche

Pat LaMarche

Pat LaMarche is an author, activist and advocate. She is the author of "Left Out In America: The State of Homelessness in the United States."  Her new novel, The Magic Diary, is due out in late spring.

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