Dirty Hands on Black Friday

November 26, 2011

Political Theory


Black Friday is a time honored tradition by some, in which they brave the early start times and large crowds to get an early start, and good deals for Christmas shopping. Black Friday always falls the day directly after Thanksgiving. This day is hyped up for weeks about the sales and extended hours to get exactly what is on all your family and friends Christmas list. Sometimes you need to ask yourself do the deals justify the frustration of getting up early and putting up with waiting in line for hours. Some people take their Black Friday shopping very seriously and wait in line all night just to be first to get into the store. Still others take their holiday shopping even more seriously.

In California there is a rise in shopper violence. For example in a suburb of LA shortly after the doors opened the Walmart employees were unwrapping a crate of discounted X-Boxes.  In a mad struggle to ensure that she got a cheap X-Box 360 one woman whipped out a can of pepper spray and sprayed 20 people so she could get her hands on the coveted electronics. This out of control shopper escaped in the chaos. This rouge deal seeker could face felony battery charges if she is apprehended by the authorities.

This is not the only case of holiday shopping violence in the great state of California. A man was leaving a store after a rousing time shopping with his family outside San Francisco when they were confronted by a group of men who commanded them to hand over what they had only just purchased. After he refused to give up the future presents, a scuffle broke out, and the family man was shot. The victim luckily survived the battle for sale items. In this case a suspect has already been arrested for involvement in the shooting.

Black Friday is getting more serious every year. I know that it is a big deal to some but where does the line get drawn. When does it become o.k. to spray people with pepper spray so that you can get the x-box 360 or any other sale item? When did “Black” Friday change from a day of shopping and fighting crowds, to a lawless scramble to get exactly what you want? Does attacking families and hosing crowds with pepper spray justify the ends of getting cheap gifts for your family and friends?

Has this holiday just been over exposed to such an extreme that shoppers feel that they truly need to get these goods. Or that it has become socially acceptable to maim in order to get something for cheaper than it will be tomorrow. Has commercialism and consumerism caused an over the top extreme to shopping and deals. A commercial I have seen frequently this break involves a middle aged woman training in a red jump suit so that she is in shape to sprint into the store and shop till she drops. Is that intense necessity driven shopping experience we are moving towards?

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About weimarj

student in poli sci 101 at michigan

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13 Comments on “Dirty Hands on Black Friday”

  1. joethahn Says:

    I think that most of us agree that Black Friday has definitely turned into a holiday. It just goes to show how we Americans have become so focused on material goods. I think that since our economy has made a turn for the worse people place a heavier weight on saving money. Christmas time is the time of year where people spend the most money, going on vacation and treating others, so people become more desperate to save. I do not think that it is justifiable to hurt someone over a material good unless it is an item that you cannot survive without, such as food or pharmaceutical drugs. Those who are willing to do whatever it takes to get a good deal on an X-Box, television, etc. are definitely Machiavellian thinkers, who believe that the end result of saving money justifies any action. The people who are willing to maim others to get a certain item are most likely those who belong to the lower income class. However I cannot blame those who are willing to go through great lengths in order to purchase an item that they would not be able to afford if it were not for the Black Friday deal if the item was for a family member. To me family is my first priority and I would do the same to keep those in my family happy, even if it means accepting the consequences of my actions.

  2. rainyo Says:

    It’s funny, my roommate mentioned the pepper spray story today to me. I guess in a sense it surprised me, but in the back of my mind it was something that I thought was bound to happen, it was just a matter of time. From my own experience, there’s at least one bizarre story a year involving violent shoppers. I remember a couple years back someone getting killed in a scramble to get the newly released Playstation 3. There was a story back in the day where someone was literally tramped over and died due to overly eager shoppers during the season rush. I actually went out for the very first time at midnight to check out this black friday fiasco. Arriving there, man, it was crazy to check out the mall parking lot with people parking everywhere humanly possible. It was nuts, and it really shows our hidden animalistic tendencies being unleashed. I think people tend to forget that we are animals just like every other living thing on this Earth. We may have ‘society’ but what is society really? It’s a concept, something intangible. We may call ourselves civilized, but violent shopping events just go to show how hypocritical the human being really is- it’s ironic as hell that the holiday season is something conceptualized as a time of peace, charity, etc, but shit like this happens.

  3. benjishanus Says:

    There is no doubt that Black Friday is not your average Friday. That being said, under no circumstances is it acceptable for someone to physically abuse another person in order to get what he or she desires. There is a very fine line between strategically waking top early in order to get to the front of the line and shoving someone aside in order to get to the front of the line. Does each scenery lead to the same end of getting to the front of the line and first preference of items on sale? Perhaps? But do both means justify this ends? Certainly not in this case.

    While I am very much a believer in the saying “the ends justify the means”, it must be kept in fair perspective. It is not as if these people are fighting a war that must be won at all costs. This is a case of people needing to conform to the rules and institutions of society. People must be mindful of the situation they are in. So in short, no, the ends of getting to the front of a line do not justify the means of using pepper spray or other similar methods under any circumstances.

  4. jsimon99 Says:

    In my eyes, Black Friday is getting really ridiculous. I never believed how serious it was until I was driving home from a family member’s house after thanksgiving this year as I passed 3 Wal-Marts around 9:30 and there was a line of cars in the street trying to get in the parking lot. I witnessed a Toys R’ Us store lined up with people down the street waiting for the doors to open. Our country is so focused on material goods it truly is sad. Unfortunately ever since the economy has gotten worse, I believe that people find it extremely helpful to stress it out on Friday and shop all night and all day. Like an earlier comment mentioned, these people are Machiavellian thinkers because the end result of saving money justifies any action. People are not focused on the spirit of the holidays where they should be centered on getting maybe more meaningful and thoughtful gifts, instead of whatever is best that is cheapest. The holidays, like thanksgiving, are a time of spending time with the family, not missing thanksgiving dinner to line up at the busiest store to be the first one to get the best deal on Black Friday. It just doesn’t make sense anymore how desperate people seem to be on Black Friday. Now there is a new “holiday” trying to rise like black Friday which is Small Business Saturday, where it is encouraged to go to a small business where they have good deals on Saturdays. Then there is the other “holiday” of Cyber Monday where there are a ton of good deals online. There might as well be a whole week of holidays focused on shopping. Commercialism and consumerism has definitely caused an over the top extreme to shopping and deals.

  5. tchung22 Says:

    The culture surrounding Black Friday really seems to have changed. The name stems from store owners trying to get in the “black” (positive profit gains). However, Black Friday has changed from mere bargain shopping to a day of violent consumerism. This isn’t even the first year that violence has surrounded the event. I remember watching the news last year when a person was trampled at a Walmart during Black Friday. The event is simply too chaotic when people are obsessed with consumerism to save a few bucks.

    I think Black Friday has gone too far. Stores are opening earlier and earlier, causing employees to miss out on Thanksgiving dinner with their families. Nowadays, people camp out in stores, over 24 hours in advance just to have the opportunity to get that cheap TV or laptop. In these Black Friday violence scenarios, the ends absolutely do not justify the means. However, for families that are struggling economically, I can see why they place so much emphasis on Black Friday and saving money, but it has gone too far.

  6. Matthew Bernstein Says:

    I have a hard time coming to terms with how people can justify their actions on a day such as Black Friday. Yes, it’s a recession. Yes, times are bad. No, this does not mean that it’s alright to shoot a father for the items that he just bought as gifts for his family. No, this does not mean that it’s alright to shoot people with pepper spray to ensure that you get a cheaper price than others.

    The fact that some people will do any of these horrible things to save some money is a horrible sign of human nature and our society as a whole. Have we become so wrapped up with money and material things that laws and respect for one another go completely awry? I for one will never participate in a Black Friday mad rush, no matter how great the sale is, simply because of the principle. To be honest (and I don’t know, but I may be in the minority), I’m not trying to risk life and limb to save twenty bucks on an Xbox.

  7. Jason Cohen Says:

    The premise of this post is excellent and a quite pressing issue that merely perpetuates stereotypes of American Citizens. It’s amazing the extent people will go just to save a dollar and capitalize on that extra dollar or two off on the desired item. To be honest, the marketing of Black Friday sales are genius due to the notion that these sales are so limited, but to resort to violence over saving a penny? It is unbelievable that people are animalistic over material items. Black Friday is a great way to stimulate the economy, but the law should not disappear during this chaotic event and I believe police should be ready as stores open their doors. People should not get away with spraying others with pepper spray over getting an xbox on sale. The quicker we see law enforcement stepping in nation-wide, the more efficient this “holiday” will become. I completely advocate for stimulating the economy by going out and consuming, but at the same time, one should not forget that he or she is a human being surrounded by other human beings who share equal rights.

  8. carweiss Says:

    While the deals may be appealing, and the crowds larger than ever, Black Friday should not be a day full of violence. After celebrating one of the most family-orietned holidays, I find it appalling how intense people get about their shopping. I think the largest contributor to the hype that comes with Black Friday is the media. The commercials, the ads, the e-mails are all endless and this only intensifies the necessity for shoppers to get in and get out as quickly as they can – which sometimes leads to violent actions. Because of the media’s affect, I don’t think there is an answer as to how we, as a society, can stop the violence. Black Friday is a tradition that cannot be tampered with and stores want the hype to bring in more costumers. Consequently, I don’t think there is a single factor to blame, there are only organizations which catalyze the reactions. Perhaps there are steps society can take to try and prevent the violence, but because the majority of shoppers are non-violent, I believe that this problem is very low on a list of priorities.

  9. amgille Says:

    Although I have never been Black Friday shopping, it certainly seems to me that it has, in a way, become a bigger holiday than Thanksgiving itself. More commercials on television are about Black Friday than family time during Thanksgiving. Part of the allure of Black Friday I think comes more from the economy each year. It gives people the ability to celebrate Christmas the way that they may have been able to in the past.

    Maybe this loss of something that was once possible may even lead to the violence that we see today. Anyone is willing to do something for a deal now simply to get ahead. This does not make it okay. I do believe that people should be held responsible for what they have done, and nothing should override that fact. Maybe the stores themselves, like the commercial by Target that you mentioned, have helped lead to these violent happenings, however, I don’t believe that they could be held responsible as they do not promote this type of behavior.

  10. mrau188 Says:

    This whole situation that america is facing with all of the black friday nonsense is starting to get out of control. While watching television over thanksgiving break it seemed like every commercial i was watching was about how the day after thanksgiving there was going to be a hugs sale starting at some absurd time in the morning. I was really disappointed by the fact that all of the problems that arise from this day that has been made into the biggest shopping day in america. Our culture has gone to crap if we think of this as one of the most important days of the year we need to be able to manage everything that is going on and if things like this are happening just so that you can save an extra fifty dollars when going out and buying a new television it is not worth it. People just need to grow up and be mature I never have been a black friday shopper and i never will be it is a waste of american people’s time and we need to move on from all of this crap.

  11. #jasonschwartz Says:

    There can be many parallels made between this day and when an overhyped product is comming out onto the market. Take the iphone for example. I have a friend whose mother paid him $400 to stand outside an apple store for a day to get the whole family Iphones. But on a more serious level, how can you blame these people for wanting to get in on all the new products being offered. we live in a time of constant technological innovation for the better in which new ideas are constantly being embraced and flourish.

    However, at the same time, people are willing to do anything to save their money. This fact really scares me, because money is far from the most important thing on this earth and yet, like it or not, its all that people care about. There needs to be a dramatic shift in the way that people think in order to prevent this ongoing craz3e. It is destroying our society on a smaller level with incidents like this, and on a larger level with waste of natural resources.

    I’m glad you raised this issue because it is a serious one that people all over the country need to become more fully aware of.

  12. bonannianthony Says:

    I think this is a good post. I had never taken part in the Black Friday festivities until this year. After we finished Thanksgiving and we were watching the Ravens and the 49ers myself, my brother, and my two cousins were joking around about a Black Friday commercial. Then my brother said he wanted to go this year just to see what happens. Us four went to a retail giant at around midnight just to see what happens and it was mayhem. We had no interest in buying anything, even if we wanted to we would have been in line for two to three hours waiting. We saw so many people in such a confined space, no parking, yelling, screaming, fighting, and my brother and I saw a domestic disturbance walking out of the store. Overall, we were all shocked at what we all saw. However, it made for an interesting night and a different end to most of our other Thanksgivings.

  13. adamstillman2011 Says:

    I do agree that Black Friday is hyped up, but in no case does that hype justify becoming violent over a food processor that is 30% off. You ask in the post will it be socially acceptable to “maim” someone on Black Friday? The answer to that question is absolutely not. In no case is shopping worth going to prison or hurting someone.

    I do not believe that this is a case of dirty hands because getting deals on Black Friday does not further any necessary state interest. I think that it goes more toward state of nature. In a situation when left to their own devices people will act in their own self interest to get what they want, and in the case of Black Friday it often turns violent.

    Black Friday is a fun tradition and I know that many people really enjoy it but it is not worth trampling someone to get a discounted TV. Put your priorities in order.

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