It’s Black Friday. Those who are in the grip of Black Friday mania have already been out at the stores for hours, tussling over the electronic gadgets and big screen TVs and kids’ toys that are the staples of Black Friday sales. If you don’t already have somebody’s grandmother in a headlock in your efforts to get one of the last sale items at Walmart, you’re probably not going to be venturing to the stores today. And, you’re probably feeling embarrassed about how the whole Black Friday spectacle reflects poorly on those of us who live in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.
But, should you be embarrassed, really? Or, should you, upon careful reflection, realize that Black Friday riots are instead a quintessential expression of American freedoms that, while not specifically enumerated in the Bill of Rights, are nevertheless core parts of the American experience?
I’m talking about things like freedom to shop for hours. Freedom to demonstrate unseemly personal greed. Freedom to make a complete horse’s ass of yourself in a public setting. Freedom to go deeply into debt on credit cards. And freedom to spoil your kids rotten with the stuff that you ultimately purchase on Black Friday and then give to them on Christmas.
The Spectator has published a defense of Black Friday brawling. It provides some interesting information about Black Friday — like how it was invented in Philadelphia and initially called Big Friday before it was rebranded with the same name as a great Steely Dan song, and how there are places where you can actually make wagers on how many people will be killed in Black Friday fracases versus how many people will die in shark attacks. Hey, why not? It turns out that, by some counts, you’re more likely to die in a Black Friday fistfight with some turkey and stuffing-stoked Mom in the aisle of an electronics store than in the jaws of a Great White.
This year, instead of shaking my head in disbelief at the antics of crazed shoppers on Black Friday, I’m going to celebrate the mania> But my personal celebration won’t involve heading out to the stores. Instead, I’ll revel in the footage of shoppers throwing haymakers as just another thing that makes America great.