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Black Friday deals aren’t worth someone’s life

Date: 12/4/2013

By G. Michael Dobbs

Considering the escalating violence associated with Black Friday shopping at national retailers, do you think we might re-consider whether or not it should be part of a holiday season supposedly representing an expression of love and family?

You might want to ask the family of Jdimytai Damour, an employee who was trampled to death at a Wal-Mart store at Valley Stream, N.Y., this year.

A fellow worker was reported saying in the New York Daily News story, “They took the doors off the hinges. He was trampled and killed in front of me.”

That wasn’t the only account of violence. Facebook had plenty of posts and re-posts of cell phone videos showing crowds of anxious shoppers assaulting one another in order to get sale items.

Now before I get the usual nasty emails or letters saying I’m against business or anti-Christmas or not a Christian – because Jesus is all about celebrating his birth with the purchase of a bigger flat screen television – let me assure you that I think it’s fine that businesses kick off the Christmas shopping season with Black Friday sales.

Our newspaper’s last edition was full of local merchants advertising their specials, however, none of them that I can recall were opening on Thanksgiving night or at 1 a.m. on Friday with “door-busters” that killed or injured people.

That’s only one reason why I try to shop at locally owned businesses as much as I can.

It’s the national retailers that have decided to push the boundaries of common decency by eroding a great holiday that cuts across religious and ethnic origins to unite us in a day of reflection. It’s the national retailers who have created a frenzied need to fight for an item because “quantities are limited.”

Although the nation is better off than it was in during the Great Recession, many people have not recovered fully and with the pressure of trying to provide the most materialistic Christmas possible the national sales offers is just too tempting.

Yes, the Christmas retail season is extremely important to the national economy. The more people can spend generally means additional employment at retailers and manufacturers. Is it possible to shop in a way that doesn’t include violence?

Is any Christmas present worth hurting another person?

I wonder what the people who stampeded at the Wal-Mart in New York are thinking today. When they stepped on another human being they had knocked over, stepped on him enough to kill him, did they have any idea of what they were doing?

MGM or not?

So now it’s down to the wire: the Massachusetts Gaming Commission has announced that it will release its report on the suitability of MGM doing business in the state in a couple of days.

If they give the thumbs up, then we will probably see them receive the only casino license in Western Massachusetts. If they get the thumbs down, who knows if or when a casino will open in this part of the state.

Personally I have been increasingly concerned that any casino here will not be a destination casino but rather one that relies on a local audience. I’m also very skeptical that those people who come as tourists to our area and stay at the casino will also visit local attractions and museums.

I’m also wary of the 40-year deal the city has made with MGM and its implications.

If MGM is rejected, Springfield residents will probably be facing another effort to bring a casino to the city. Springfield is the only community that has approved a casino deal through a referendum in our region and at least on paper would be the easiest sell.

At this point, though, I’m much more interested what kind of business could be brought to the Page Boulevard site that Ameristar had bought – the place where Westinghouse had employed hundreds of people years ago making real things and allowing people to build their lives.

Agree? Disagree? Drop me a line at or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.