The anti-society

It’s not just governments, armed forces, and police departments today that are reluctant to oppose enemies and criminals, and that stigmatize and punish those who do, but private businesses. Consider the female manager at a Wal-Mart who stopped a man from stealing a computer from the store—and was promptly fired for doing so. This is a symbol of our world. Liberal society commands people not to protect the society from wrongdoers. It tells Army officers to do nothing when a U.S. Army major openly espouses jihad war against the United States. It tells police not to question and apprehend illegal aliens. It tells people not to make negative judgements on anyone, except those who make negative judgements. It assigns the Border Patrol to protect our border, then tries and imprisons two Border Patrol agents who shoot and slightly wound a dangerous criminal alien who was in the act of escaping. It sends our men to fight in Iraq against the most dangerous, homicidal enemies our country has ever faced, and then spends years prosecuting four Navy SEALs because they bruised the lip of a terrorist suspect in Fallujah.

Here is the article, which comes from the Wichita Eagle. Be sure to see the readers’ comments at the Wichita Eagle site, which give a fuller idea of what Wal-Mart’s policy is about.


Wal-Mart employee foils a shoplifter—and loses her job

WICHITA—Heather Ravenstein tried to save Wal-Mart some money Friday by foiling a shoplifter’s plan to steal a $600 computer, but it cost her her job.

“I’m a single mom, and I don’t know what I’m going to do,” says Ravenstein, who is 30.

She’s worked at the West Kellogg Wal-Mart for almost two years, most recently as a customer service manager.

Friday night around 10:20, she was standing near some registers when she saw a man with a computer coming up the main walkway of the store.

“Action Alley is what they call it,” she says.

“He was walking rather fast, so it caught my eye.”

Ravenstein says the man kept walking and set off an alarm. She went after him.

“Let me see your receipt, and then I’ll take this off for you,” she told the man, referring to a sensor on the computer.

Ravenstein says the man refused and kicked her.

“And then he punched me in my shoulder, and then he finally gave up and just let go of the computer.”

Ravenstein walked back into the store and sat on the floor.

“I was shaking pretty bad,” she says.

Assistant store managers immediately checked on her.

“They all came out and made sure I was OK,” Ravenstein says. “They thanked me.”

The next day, about two hours before her shift was over, Ravenstein says an assistant manager asked to speak with her. He then told her it’s against Wal-Mart policy for anyone but a manager or someone in asset protection to try to stop a customer from stealing.

“He said there’s really no gray area,” Ravenstein says. “It just goes straight to termination.”

She was told to turn in her badges and keys.

“I was in shock at first,” Ravenstein says. “I didn’t think anything like this would happen.”

Nor did she know about the policy, Ravenstein says.

“I’ve never heard of it.”

She says she’s stopped people for forging payroll checks on more than one occasion.

“They never once said, ‘You’re not supposed to be doing that.’ “

When asked about the situation, Wal-Mart spokeswoman Anna Taylor e-mailed this response:

“While we appreciate her intentions, Ms. Ravenstein’s actions put her safety—and perhaps the safety of our customers—in jeopardy and, in the process, violated company policy as it pertains to how we treat people in our stores. As an unfortunate result of these circumstances, Ms. Ravenstein is no longer employed by our company.”

Ravenstein filed for unemployment Monday.

“The main thing is I’m worried about my son,” Ravenstein says of 4-year-old TJ.

She says she’d like to go to school to work in the medical field, perhaps as a nurse.

She wants “a career, not just a job.”

For now, though, Ravenstein says she simply needs to make money, and it’s not likely to be in retail.

“After this experience, no. Probably not.”

[end of article]

- end of initial entry -

Jonathan W. writes:

I don’t think it’s fair to blame this on liberal society’s ideals of tolerance and refusal to make negative judgments. I think Wal-Mart’s policy is another sad consequence of our out of control tort system that allows people to sue stores for detaining them even if the store had a reasonable basis to believe that the person was shoplifting. Wal-Mart’s policy is perhaps an overreaction, but there have been cases where customers have successfully sued stores for unlawful imprisonment, even when their actions would lead any reasonable person to be suspicious.

To me, this story is very similar to that of the Pizza Hut delivery man who shot an armed man who attempted to rob him of the pizza and money he had on him. Pizza Hut fired him because he was carrying a firearm while on the job against company policy. It’s possible that the policy on delivery men carrying firearms was instituted due to pure suicidal liberalism, but I think it’s more likely the company was worried about being sued itself if it approved of concealed carry and someone was shot unlawfully or accidentally.

LA replies:

But what you’re talking about is a part of liberalism. Liberal society removes all authority, all authoritative discriminations, and as a result anti-social behavior, criminality and violence flourish. Among other symptoms of this breakdown of society, shoplifters becomes so brazen and violent that it becomes dangerous to stop them. Wal-Mart is sued by people who were detained on suspicion of shoplifting, as you suggest, or (which was my impression from some of the comments) the store gets sued by its employees who were hurt by shoplifters they tried to stop. So the store prohibits its employees from stopping shoplifters. One way or another, liberal society ends up with the anti-social elements in charge, shown by the fact that those who try to stop them are punished—by the society they are trying to protect.

May 26

Mark D. writes:

I have to agree with Wal-Mart’s policy on this. Shoplifters can often turn violent without notice, and thus there is a gray area wherein some shoplifters should be not be confronted. Navigating this gray area requires some judgement, something many people working in retail may not have.

In my city a shoplifter shot a store employee that had chased him out of the front door. Walmart’s policy is not so much a reflection of the liberal mindset, but rather a reaction to the violence of American society and its underclass.

LA replies:

Your point is well taken. I grant that there’s more going on here than was suggested by my “liberalism” analysis. Given the violence of so much of our population, stores have got to protect their employees. At the same time, the brutal quickness with which Wal-Mart fired Heather Ravenstein, the employee who stopped the man from stealing a computer, does seem to convey a “liberal”—anti-law enforcement—message. They didn’t even thank her. They simply treated her as a person who had broken the rules and had to be fired without more ado. She did a good thing, she did the natural and normal thing, and she was treated as a wrong-doer.

Wal-Mart could have said something like, “We appreciate that Miss Ravenstein cared enough about Wal-Mart to stop this theft, but we have a clear policy that only authorized persons are allowed to confront shoplifters, that policy is in place to protect our employees from harm, she violated this rule, and therefore she must be dismissed.” The absence of any such softening gesture to mitigate the inhuman-seeming act of firing her for stopping a thief suggests to my mind that Wal-Mart was not just acting out of a need to protect their employees and enforce their rules, but out of a pro-criminal, anti-society, mentality.

A. Zarkov writes:

Mr. Auster writes: “The absence of any such softening gesture to mitigate the inhuman-seeming act of firing her for stopping a criminal suggests to my mind that Wal-Mart was not just acting out of a need to protect their employees and enforce their rules, but out of a pro-criminal, anti-society, mentality.”

I have to disagree, because this conclusion gives to much credit to Walmart. In my opinion, Walmart management is incapable of such an agenda because it’s nothing more than a sterile corporate bureaucracy with no ideology other than making money. I will speculate that Walmart’s lawyers and accountants did a cost benefit analysis and concluded that the best policy was to forbid most employees from confronting shoplifters. They also concluded that firing an employee for doing so would be the best deterrent. If Walmart suffers bad publicity for this incident then they will hire the fired employee back and institute some other kind of punishment. They are neither pro-criminal or anti-criminal. They do whatever will make them the most money. When you think Walmart, think zombie.

Prakhar G. writes:

Substantially, A. Zarkov is correct.

If Wal-Mart had not fired the employee, it could have been construed as implicit approval of her actions. As it stands, assault is a much more serious crime than shoplifting and this could have opened Wal-Mart open to a serious lawsuit. What we are seeing here is the refusal of society to treat a criminal——-in this case the shoplifters——-like a criminal. Society does the same thing with murderers, rapists, drug dealers, and terrorists and has for several decades now. Wal-Mart does not oppose this policy because it is not a political entity. Wal-Mart’s business is not to fight for society but to make money.

On another note, I find A. Zarkov’s tone to be offensive. The “zombie”-like drive of Wal-Mart, their executives, and others like them is what has gotten us the abundance we live in. They are not the sole reason that we do not have to suffer like the people in the Congo or many in the Middle East, but they are surely indispensable to maintaining our current position and improving it.

Mark D. writes:

I think I am getting more callous as I approach thirty, but the woman in the story is a “single mom”, not a widow or a housewife working to help support her kids. How am I supposed to feel sympathy for someone impoverished by her own decision to get pregnant by a man she wasn’t married to?

LA replies:

This is a problem we run into repeatedly in covering contemporary news. There will be a story in the Mail, say, about a man who was mistreated by outrageously PC government officials and who fought back. All our sympathy is with him. Then we find out two thirds of the way through the article that he lives with his “partner” and their three children, and he suddenly ceases being someone with whom we can simply identify. Given current social realities which are so very bad, what can we do in each situation but take the side of the party who represents the correct side in that situation, while at the same time pointing out regretfully that our “hero,” in this case Heather Ravenstein, is also part and parcel of the decadent liberal culture?

May 28

Lydia McGrew writes:

Unfortunately from the perspective of clarity, it is now becoming common to use the term “single” indiscriminately to refer to people who have never been married and people who are divorced. (Just think how interesting this must make it for Catholics and others who don’t believe in divorce to use dating services!) So it’s possible that the woman in the story was married when she had her child or children and was deserted by her husband. I’m not saying that’s true but only that the phrase “single mom” is ambiguous.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 25, 2010 12:20 PM | Send

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