A Stones Throw 12-4-14


Perhaps as an extension of last week’s column, I am glad I live in a country where everyone has the right of freedom of speech. Unfortunately, along with freedom of speech comes the freedom to be stupid.

I thought of this last Thursday as Jade and I drove to my son’s home so we could share a family Thanksgiving dinner. While driving, I decided to stop at a truck stop to get a cup of coffee.

The coffee was good.

But, according to some, it should not have been available.

While drinking the coffee and driving to Kevin’s, I had to think about all the protests and protesters against Walmart for forcing its employees to work on Thanksgiving day instead of being able to spend Thanksgiving with friends and family.

I started to wonder how many of those protesters would stop for a cup of coffee as they drove to their family get together. I wondered if any of the people I stood in line with while waiting to pay for my coffee were Walmart protesters.

I wondered how many Walmart employees appreciated the ability to get an additional day’s pay. I wondered how many Walmart employees who were mad about being forced to work were standing in line in front of me.

I decided the answer was probably none.

I also decided that while there was a lot of traffic, there were no Walmart protesters on the road unless they could get to and from their destination without stopping for gas. After all, how could they support a company whose employees had to work on Thanksgiving?

In fact, why would a Walmart protester even bother to go to a family get together? Just by being there, surely no one could watch any of the football or basketball games, or the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade that have become part of Thanksgiving for many people. (And, I am sure there was not one single Walmart protester in the stands for any of those games or at the parade.)

After all, those terrible professional football and basketball teams forced their employees (coaches, players, concession workers, security, ushers, ticket takers, etc.) to work on Thanksgiving. And the Thanksgiving Parade had many of the same type of workers who were required to work.

Even with college football and basketball games, while players aren’t paid, all the other workers involved with the game are being paid.

And, they are being forced to work on Thanksgiving.

Perhaps more basic, I wonder if those Walmart protesters would protest and try to block firefighters who responded to a fire at their home. Or a police officer who responded to an accident involving a protester or his/her family?

I wonder if any of those protesters turned on the television anytime Thursday to watch the news or check the weather forecast. Probably none since the people reading the news or giving the forecasts are being forced to work on Thanksgiving.

The list could go on forever. We live in a world where we expect what we need, or what we want, to be available when we want it. Still, perhaps the honest Walmart protesters chose to spend Thanksgiving in the backyard and refused to use any service where someone was forced to work on Thanksgiving.

They would have to use the backyard since using electricity in the house would be violating the “don’t support a company that forces employees to work on Thanksgiving.”

I’m sorry, I forgot.

The protest is against Walmart – not against all the other companies that require employees to work on Thanksgiving.

This is either hypocritical or stupid – probably both.

But it doesn’t stop with Thanksgiving.

In the last couple of days, I have watched news reports of ongoing protests against Walmart. These protesters are demanding a boycott of Walmart. They are not demanding a boycott of Best Buy, or Target, or Kmart, or any other company whose stores were open for business on Thanksgiving.

They are not demanding that any company whose employees were required to work on Thanksgiving be boycotted.

Only Walmart.

Stupid protests like this remind me of the actions of the protesters in Ferguson, Missouri after the Grand Jury chose not to indict a white police officer for killing an unarmed black teenager.

While many protesters showed their disagreement of the Grand Jury in a peaceful way, many decided to show their disagreement by looting businesses, burning down businesses, burning police cars, and generally destroying property and the lives of many people.

Still, the problem was not the thugs who chose to destroy – they were just exercising their freedom of speech. (Really, that was the claim.)

In fact, I watched two interviews of store owners whose store was destroyed. In one case, it was an electronics store that was looted of everything and then had all its cabinets and furniture destroyed. The other was a store that had been burned to the ground.

One would think that these two store owners would be upset with the thugs who chose to riot and destroy.

One would be wrong.

In each case, the store owner blamed the police. After all, it is the responsibility of the police to protect the property of business owners. And, the police should have known the businesses would be in jeopardy.

I guess those two business owners weren’t concerned that while their businesses were being destroyed, police were trying to calm a violent riot that was endangering the lives of many.

I also think if the police had been close enough to catch the thugs who were looting and burning businesses there would probably have been at least one incident where a protesting thug was injured by a police officer.

This of course would have provided justification for yet another round of violent protest.

When I look at the violent protests in Ferguson, Missouri, and the non-violent protests over Walmart forcing employees to work on Thanksgiving, I have a couple ideas that might eliminate the need for such protests.

As for the Walmart protesters – the answer is easy. Give up everything that involved a company that required employees to work on Thanksgiving. Instead, move into a cave and live the life of a caveman. But, don’t take any of the modern essentials such as food, clothing, or shelter that might have been purchased from one of those terrible companies that required Thanksgiving work.

At the same time, since the ongoing protests over the Ferguson, Missouri incident continue throughout the country, the solution is easy.

Going forward, no white police officer should ever be allowed to provide security or respond to any incident involving an African-American. And, since there have been several incidents where African-American police officers have, while in the act of duty, shot and killed a white man or woman, going forward no African-American should be allowed to provide security or respond to any incident involving a white person.

Of course, when the incident involves both African-Americans and whites, no officer should respond since it might not be possible to ensure that all response is white on white and black on black.

In other words, Walmart protesters need to go back to caveman days while Ferguson, Missouri protesters need to go back to the lawless days of the old West.

Then, everyone can be happy.

Or, on the other hand, perhaps we should enjoy what we have. We should pray that those who exercise their right of freedom of speech are respectful and understanding.

And – we should simply recognize that you can’t fix stupid.

– Mike Cooney