Wednesday, December 3, 2008

This is Everybody's Fault but Mine!!!

We have an epidemic in the world today, and it is more widespread than any disease has ever been (including obesity, which is saying something in this McWorld). It's a syndrome of simultaneous blame and blame avoidance and it is spiraling out of control. Most people simply do not hold themselves accountable for their own actions anymore--and to make matters worse, it appears that the judicial system is condoning this craziness more than ever.
It turns out that the family of the Wal-mart greeter who was trampled to death on Black Friday is suing. Whatever, I didn't exactly expect a public death like that to go "unavenged" by some greedy lawyer well acquainted with the formula of immense grief plus public scandal equals huge payday. However, they are suing Wal-mart. Look, I'm a fan of fighting injustice as much as the next guy and I know Wal-mart seems like an easy target (no clever retailer pun intended), but I fail to see how this is okay. Call me crazy, but it seems to me that the only people who should be getting sued (and arrested) in this situation are the people that, I don't know, actually stepped on another human being and killed him. The family is citing the fact that Wal-mart's low prices on Black Friday cited "crowd craze" which caused the death.
So, what they are telling me is that if a company puts together a brilliant ad campaign, all my actions, no matter how inexcuseable, are magically excused? Are we so moronic as a human race that if a company tells me they will give me a good price on Guitar Hero, it is considered the legal equivalent of condoning my use of deadly force to acquire said deal? Do we even want to live in a world where no one ever has to think before they act because someone, somewhere in the great beyond might have inadvertently implied acceptance of any bad actions we take? I don't. I enjoy having free will and using it freely, with my very own brain and heart behind my words and deeds. I even enjoy consequences of my choices because the consequences are really what help me learn. When you make a choice, you choose the consequences, whether good or bad. That learning through experience is what shapes the next choice, and the one after that, and the one after that. It seems to me society wants to nullify the good consequences for good choices, and create good consequences for bad choices! I can just picture the skuzbags that stepped on that man getting home from the sale and saying "Hey honey, the bad news is that I possibly killed a guy today--the good news is--check out my awesome Wii!!!! The sucker that stepped around the guy on the ground didn't get there in time, wuss!!" I do not want to live in a world where playing dirty pays off big, and an innocent bystander with a deep wallet takes the bullet for another's bad choices. I may be a salmon swimming upstream on that one, but it's a battle I'm willing to fight all my life, for my child and yours. I want the world to be a more fair place, even if I'm the only one fighting the tide. I may be a lone voice shouting it in this world of "not my fault but thine", but I will say it anyway.

To all those with the "crowd crazies":
The value of a human life is in no way equivalent to a discount on any product in the known world, and to even imply that any amount of advertising could justify the removal of all humanity and thought from someone is deeply disturbing. If you can get so worked up by a sale that you are willing to hurt someone else, you are completely unbalanced and you should have the sense to stay as far away from stores as possible. Shop online if you have to. It's called utilizing your free will on something small to avoid making a gigantic mistake--try it sometime. I don't shop Black Friday anymore because I know it's going to be a complete frenzy, not worth the aggravation, and not a single Wal-mart employee showed up at my house, put a gun to my head, and dragged me down there to force me into the fray! Wal-mart didn't give anybody a problem, they had one already and every choice they made it worse.

I understand grief and the intense desire this family has to blame someone for a loved one's death. I've been there, and I remember feeling like there had to be something more tangible than the idea of "cosmic justice." If I was in pain, there had to be a bad guy to cause it, right? In this case, the families are lucky in one small way--there is clearly someone to blame and people who should pay a price for their actions. The fact that the people who actually committed the crime can not be determined (and it is a crime to kill another human being and continue running to the Cuisinarts), is one of the inherent problems in justice administration and in no way shifts the blame to the next closest entity. The inability to find the actual defendent does not thereby change the defendent. I understand the need for closure, but unfortuately, no one is entitled to closure. No one is even entitled to justice in this life, what you are entitled to is that our country will do their darndest to provide justice. If the search comes up empty, that, while tragic, is also nobody's fault but the people who won't come forward to own up to their actions. Unless Wal-mart put up a sign saying only those who step on an employee will recieve the sale prices, I fail to see how they are at fault here. There are those that say they should have protected their employees better. To them I say, hindsight is always 20/20, and how in the world were they to know that humanity was going to hit their new all-time low for avarice this year? The deals this year were lousy and projections for sales were lower than usual. How was Wal-mart supposed to know that sales would be down, but murderous violence would be up? There wasn't even a must-have item this year! No extra muscle around the Tickle Me Elmos or Cabbage Patch Dolls. Why do we always expect large corporations to anticipate the lows of human vices, yet remain consistently shocked and appalled by them ourselves?

What needs to happen here is that the lawsuit needs to be thrown out as frivolous. Our justice system simply can not become the world's most expensive grief counselor, to the detriment of all suits with merit. That isn't to say my heart doesn't go out to them, but every tragedy that befalls the human condition is not entitled to a monetary payout. Sadness can't be equated to dollars just because the reason behind the sadness is inherently unfair. If the police can find the people responsible for this, then go ahead and attempt some compensation. If you can't find the people responsible, learn how to accept that and move on before some really stupid people and their horrific lack of common decency claim your entire lives as well. The thirst for revenge causes many to drink poison daily. Do not let yourselves fall victim to it, and do not let any opportunistic lawyers reopen your wounds for the sake of their own pocketbooks. Losing an entire family to this tragedy would be injustice populated exponentially.


Luann said...

That was so sad and I find it disappointing that these people are suing Walmart. Personally I don't think a suit is possible. The people who trampled the guy probably could not stop themselves. They were at the front of a pack of people pushing from the back forcing them forward. If the people in front stopped, they would be trampled too. I guess some did try to stop because I know there were others that were injured. I have to say this incidence has completely disheartened me to know that people could be so callous.

Crow Family said...

I agree with some of what you said, but I think it is Walmarts duty to have handled the crowd. They need to be able to have a system that is safe for all. I don't know if that is a line- single formed- or officers- just something. Just like if you had a trampoline and someone broke their arm on it, you are held responsible, they could sue you. That might not be fair but as I have heard it, that is the law. (That is why I never could have one, my dad didn't want to be responsible for the neighbors and insurance is higher). Anyways I feel that Walmart is partially to blame and they should pay some amount. Thats my two bits... See you tonight =)

Carly said...

Oh yea, I have a counterpoint! Actually, from a legal standpoint, the Wal-mart situation is different from the trampoline scenario. A trampoline is an inanimate object whose operation and repair is solely the responsibility of the property owner--if a user is injured on it, there is no one else besides the home owner to be held responsible for its operation and oversight. The trampoline can not decide on it's own to injure the jumper. The situations would be equivalent if the employee was killed by a display falling over or some object inside the store, because in that case, the owner and operator of the cause of death was in fact the store. This situation involves a third party with a free will and choice, so the cause of death was someone (or many someones) as opposed to something. I would argue its more similar to a neighbor jumping on a trampoline in your yard when a burglar jumps over the fence, shoots the jumper and runs away. The third party caused the death and would be legally responsible, not the owner of the yard. The home owner would never be legally penalized for the actions of the shooter because they could not anticipate or control another's free will. A trampoline has no free will.
That said, I do think it would be classy of wal-mart to pay for the funeral or something because he was an employee killed on the job who clearly wasn't rolling in the money if he was working as a greeter, but they are not legally bound to do so.
See you in a few hours! :)

Alison said...

I could see suing Wal-Mart for lousy crowd control, but suing because their low prices caused a frenzy is ridiculous. I also agree with Luann in that those who trampled the guy probably really had no choice in the matter. It was just a case of too many people wanting something that they probably don't need, nor can they afford, and one unfortunate person getting in the way.

Natalie said...

Amen to every word Carly! You are a refreshing voice of reason in a almost completely screwed up world!
Thanks for this great post.

Natalie said...

oops, i meant in "an" almost completely screwed up world

Rachel and Jared Lautenschlager said...

I completely disagreed with sueing walmart; I thought it was ridiculous. i get the grief and the pain, and it was awful. And I'm sorry if this is not agreeable to everyone else, but I think they just might be pressing this suit because the money is there and that can be a fast fix for grief. The people who actually trampled him probably dont' have as much money as walmart. I feel so bad for this family. Is this the right way to react? Probably not. If this guy was thee only person monitoring crowd control, Imight change my tune a little bit; right now all I am hearing is "low prices caused a crowd frenzy". Give me a break. I do hope the family is able to find peace; it was certainly an awful situation.

Mike said...

Hmmm.....I'm just a 13 year old little sister who really doesn't know what the crap is happening half the time. All I know is that you sounded like 85 years old in that post Carly. Love ya!!
By the way....3 days until The Dark Knight comes out on DVD!! WOO!!!

Mike said...

You should have been a lawyer. The legal world needs you. A voice of reason. Take that, O.J.!