Despite the bad economy this year, countless American consumers still camped out for hours after Thanksgiving dinner outside their favorite shops in order to be at the head of the queue when the shops opened early Friday.
OK, that's fine. If people have nothing better to do, and they have the money to spend, that's their business. Go for it.
But what happened this year on Black Friday at a Long Island Wal-Mart is bigger than that, and much more heinous, be it intentional or not. It demonstrated that some Americans will put their desire to be first in line for that limited inventory of 50-inch televisions above all else -- even if it means that another human being has to die in the process.
If you haven't heard the story, here is a summary, courtesy of the New York Daily News:
A Wal-Mart worker died early Friday after an "out-of-control" mob of frenzied shoppers smashed through the Long Island store's front doors and trampled him, police said.This is America on shopping adrenaline, credit cards, selfishness, and competitive greed.
The Black Friday stampede plunged the Valley Stream outlet into chaos, knocking several employees to the ground and sending others scurrying atop vending machines to avoid the horde.
When the madness ended, 34-year-old Wal-Mart worker Jdimytai Damour was dead, and four shoppers, including a woman eight months pregnant, were injured.
What seemingly matters to the American consumer -- even today, apparently -- is keeping up with the proverbial Joneses, and exceeding them at any cost. Shopping has become a sport, and consumerism has become a contest, even in what might be the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
If your neighbor has a 40-inch television, you have to run out and buy a 50-inch TV with more proverbial bells and whistles -- whether or not you can afford it.
And, if someone stands in your way, trample him to death, damn it!
How cheap really is that big TV if it costs you your soul?