Open thread: The obligatory "Black Friday brawls" post

Oh, the weather inside is frightful
But the prices are still delightful
Since shoppers have no place to turn
Let it burn, let it burn, let it burn …

Today’s the traditional start of the Christmas shopping season, a time of year in which we celebrate the joy of Christian faith, or at least the secular sense of love, family, and brotherhood. We celebrate it as a culture these days by re-enacting gladiatorial combat, only instead of the traditional arenas, we use big-box stores for our venues. Yes, it’s Black Friday, when consumers stage their own version of Thunderdome — thousand men enter, five large-screen TVs leave. 

Needless to say, with retailers using artificial shortages and panic advertising, the only rational response is to punch someone in the face for grabbing the $5 Barbie doll:

This year, Missouri shoppers got an extra added dollop of political exploitation with their price breaks. Activists protesting the shooting in Ferguson called for a nationwide boycott of Black Friday and demonstrations in the stores and streets. It’s working out precisely as one would imagine:

Overnight, protesters turned out to disrupt post-Thanksgiving shopping throughout the St. Louis suburbs, chanting “No Black Friday!”

The National Guard patrolled outside a Ferguson Walmart, less than three miles from where unarmed black teenager Michael Brown was killed, reports CBS News correspondent Vladimir Duthiers.

Protests erupted Monday after a grand jury decided to not charge Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson in Brown’s death.

In Manchester and Brentwood, Missouri, crowds chanted through the aisles inside Walmart before police and security guards escorted the protesters outside.

Over the last four days, protests took place in over 170 cities nationwide, but in the lead-up to Thanksgiving organizers asked for supporters to turn their attention from protests to boycotts, and abstain from Black Friday shopping.

“There’s one language that America understands — it’s the money,” Rev. Timothy McDonald said.

Well, that’s certainly obvious every Black Friday. Except, as ABC News reports, it’s not just America either:


More ABC US news | ABC World News

You have to love the happy, Vince Guaraldi-esque piano accompaniment to that montage, eh?

The Ferguson activists aren’t the only people trying to ride Black Friday stampedes for their own political purposes. HHS sent its ObamaCare navigators to the malls today in order to have a conversation with shoppers focused on grabbing the disappearing discounts. What could go wrong? Erick Erickson said earlier today on Fox News Channel that this was just a measure of desperation in the Obama administration over the lack of demand for ObamaCare:


Well, why not? It’s a day dedicated to manipulative marketing that uses false senses of shortage to artificially stoke demand. It’s difficult to think of a more appropriate day for White House bleating over its failing program. At least, though, shopping is still voluntary, unlike ObamaCare. No one has to adhere to a government-enforced Black Friday mandate for shopping, after all, so those who don’t like it don’t have to show up. Our friend Jon Gabriel at Ricochet provides a rebuttal to what he calls the snobbery of those trying to shut down Black Friday at the expense of people who benefit from it:

I hate shopping any day, let alone Black Friday. I have no interest in teeming crowds, midnight sales or much of the merchandise on offer. I do plenty of Christmas shopping each year, but would rather pay a few extra bucks to buy gifts on a slow day or, more likely, online. But I know that not everyone has that luxury.

Many of our progressive friends don’t seem to care. They cheer Walmart strikers, never noticing that the One Percent doesn’t camp out for Black Friday sales. Unions bus in mobs to scream in the faces of lower-middle-class customers, workers and guards. Way to stick it to The Man.

The howling picketers aren’t hurting the Waltons or shareholders, but merely making life more miserable for the have-nots.

The average Black Friday shopper isn’t throwing punches or trampling the infirm. A big chunk of today’s activity won’t even be for gifts, but rather clothes, bedding and appliances for which families can’t pay full retail. And most lower-income folks waiting all night for that PlayStation aren’t doing it because they’re greedy. It’s because they want to put a smile on the face of their child and possibly assuage the guilt that they couldn’t afford one before today.

Fair points all. I detest Black Friday, having very clear memories of having to work retail on it from 30 years ago and more, and also having an aversion to crowds primed for engaging in dangerous herd behaviors. Some people legitimately enjoy the experience, though, and as Jon says, there may be some whose limited buying power only reaches its full expression one day out of the year. I’d be happy to leave Black Friday to them. There’s no reason to impose an outside intervention to put an end to this holiday tradition, but that still leaves plenty of room to point out the ridiculous manipulation of consumers and the orgy of conspicuous consumption that it produces.

Feel free to share your Black Friday stories in the comments. Meanwhile, it’s been a long time since we’ve conducted an unscientific click-bait poll, so here goes.