Shopper trampled in the name of Jesus

November 29, 2008 | By | 11 Replies More

Well, it’s “Black Friday” again.  It’s time to check out the news.

In their attempts to buy trinkets to celebrate the birth of Jesus, Wal-Mart shoppers broke through the stores’s exterior doors and trampled a Wal-Mart employee, who died during the incident.

Yes, there’s lots of irony (and sadness) to this incident.  It reminded me of a suit that my former law firm defended more than 20 years ago.  It involved a shopper who was trampled by fellow shoppers when an employee of Famous-Barr (then a St. Louis department store) opened the doors in the morning, to begin a special sale.   That shopper survived, but she suffered serious injuries.

A lawyer with whom I worked decided to call up our client to ask more about the incident.  “What was the name of the sale,” he asked?  The store’s representative answered that the sale was the annual “Door Buster Sale.”

The case settled.


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About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (11)

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  1. I remember a sale where the remains of a dotcom company were auctioned off. The event was hyped into the stratosphere beforehand and the buyers ended up bidding much more than the goods were worth. They effectively trampled their wallets in the frenzy. Luckily no people were killed, just bank accounts……

  2. Karl says:

    People were not buying trinkets – they were out after the best deals they could get on the latest fads of popular culture and technology that are devoid of any redeeming social value.

    Its called black friday as well, why single out Jesus as being responsible?

    This was an accidental event – stupid but accidental.

    I noticed alot more Jewish people were killed on purpose over in India these past couple of days, why no outrage over thses matters?

  3. Erich Vieth says:

    Karl: Why do you assume that because I write about one thing I don't care about others? Is it fair to say that because you write about relatively few Jews killed in India, you don't care about hundreds of thousands of people dying in Darfur?

    Further, billions of dollars are frivolously spent in the name of Jesus at Christmastime. What if those dollars were pooled to a truly good cause, such as fighting malaria or doing medical research to treat Alzeimer's? If you back up and consider my broad-scope long-range criticism of the way Americans celebrate Christmas, you might better understand my argument that Christmas can kill.… Of course, Christmas is merely one of many manifestations of the rampant consumerism of modern America.

  4. Alison says:

    Well, Karl, if people hadn't manufactured the wholly secular Christmas buying frenzy, this kind of incident wouldn't happen at all. At no other time of the year is everyone supposed to meet a shopping deadline, and no other holiday sends people out in droves trying to make the most of their money.

    However, you do have a point – none of this is Jesus's fault, since there is nothing of it that has to do with a real religious holiday. The folks who are fighting the "war on christmas" should be insisting not that more people say "Merry Christmas", but that we stop calling it Christmas at all.

  5. Karl says:

    I did not mean to offend you Erich. I just think trying to claim people were killed by a religious fervor committed in Jesus name is not being fair.

    I assume you care about the faults of the customs of the society in which you live because I read and sense that from you. You do seem to have a chip on your shoulder against Christians more so than anyother religion. You write about what concerns you as most people do. Do you or do you not see life through filtered glasses?

    If you think all those billions being spent along with lawless behavior and capitalistic enterprise were the brain child of the Christ Child think again. Like other pagan or quasi religious customs that the Christian Church has had to muck its way through, Christmas as it is celebrated around the world has two components, one that deals with the birth of the baby Jesus, and another trying to appease the pagan Christless masses.

    [Note from Admin: The remainder of this commented edited in that it was beyond the topic]

  6. Karl writes:—"I just think trying to claim people were killed by a religious fervor committed in Jesus name is not being fair. "

    IMHO, most of those people wouldn't know the difference between religious fervor and mob psychosis. You are quite right, they did not do this in the name of Jesus. That might, for some of them, have been an excuse, but they did it to feed a desire to be first, to be better than the guy in second place, to be more [fill in the blank of social status symbol].

    I find mob action like this repulsive no matter what the excuse. I loathe the sensation of handing my mind over to the impulses of the crowd, even when the event designed to draw people together as a single organism has a benign if not beneficial purpsoe—like a church service.

    But I agree, you can't blame it on Jesus. At least not in the mob's case. Those who market Christmas, though….they've got some explaining to do.

    As far as Erich having a chip on his shoulder….

    Well, you pick on the majority form. Christianity is the majority religion, so if you're going to do a social critique of your culture in its religious manifestation, the minority ones don't count, do they? But Christianity shares much in form and basic assumption with most other religions, so to criticize one goes a long way toward criticising them all. Which is where I personally come down on it. As far as I'm concerned, they are all equally valid—therefore, equally flawed. And, for me, equally irrelevent.

    But, you must admit, some are certainly weirder than others.

  7. Hank says:

    It's obviously not Jesus' fault (I don't think Erich would be that simplistic), but Jesus is (ostensibly) the reason everyone's meant to consume everything they can at this time of year.

    But I'm in agreement with the above commenters: commercial overhype and a dangerous mob mentality are to blame here. You see the same kind of madness here in our post-Christmas sales and it sickens me.

    I do wonder, however, how many of that seething mob were 'real' Christians, who actually celebrate Jesus' birth on December 25. You'd think people who actively celebrated the holiday for its original meaning and not for the cheap gifts and mountains of food might not be so rabid about acquiring more stuff cheaply. I wonder this because we often hear how religious devotion discourages – or is the arch-enemy of – materialism (the obscene wealth of the Vatican and various mega-churches notwithstanding). It would be very interesting, perhaps enlightening, to find out how many of those people fighting, pushing and crushing their neighbours for a bargain lived according to the words of gentle Jesus.

  8. Erich Vieth says:

    Karl: Please read the title slowly. I said "in the name of Jesus." If you ask these people what they're doing, most of them would say "celebrating Christmas." If you ask them what Christmas is about, most of them will say something about "Jesus." I'm not claiming that these mobs are acting out the teachings of Jesus (along the lines of "love your neighbor; though, as you know I have serious doubts about whether Jesus even existed).

    I thought my title was precise: most of these people are going through their Christmas routines with the name of "Jesus" on their lips, even if they don't have the teachings of the Biblical Jesus embedded in their hearts.

  9. Karl says:

    Your title is precise to you, not to me. You assume most of the people are buying gifts for someone else at these sales. Think again, many might just be young hormone frenzied jerks who will use any excuse to buy the latest craze at the lowest price in town.

    Those who act like half crazed lunatics to buy something for someone else have serious issues of self worth. You can say what you like, I don't need to think you are being careful or precise in your use of words.

    I could just as easily say half crazed human animals stampeed for lowest short term prices on a limited inventory.

  10. Hank says:

    Karl seems dedicated to taking offence here Erich, I wouldn't bother any more if I were you.

  11. Tim Hogan says:

    Don't worry, Hank, Karl is feeling guilty because he was one of the people in line!

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