Friday, September 25, 2009

Fear and Loathing at Discount Prices

There are lots of reasons not to shop at Wal-Mart. Bad lighting, grime, the "helpful" staff and fetid restrooms are bad enough, but my local Wal-Mart also employs a charming combination of unacknowledged in-store construction and un-manned cash registers to drive me away.

I do occasionally,  shop the evil empire for certain household items that I hate to spend money on, laundry soap, toilet paper etc.  I am frustratingly adorably cheap when it comes to things that will quite literally be flushed down a drain.  If it wouldn't cause my total social isolation, I might consider using washable rags instead of T.P.  As it stands, I buy tissue with the maximum amount of wood chips allowed by law.

I'm digressing.

Despite the service atmosphere at Wal-Mart, I've been known to use the photo department when I need prints in an hour.  I'm still feeding the beast, but I don't do it very often, so it's okay (because I say so). The photo counter staff don't appear to be exploited, sweat-shop style. In fact, they are generally much more pleasant than employees in other areas of the store.


In keeping with it's upstanding Christian agenda, Wal-Mart has taken it's customer service to a whole other level.  Sure, you can buy guns and ammo at your local super center, but your child pornography will not be tolerated by those crusaders of morality in blue smocks. 

A family in Arizona was actually prosecuted for attempting to develop bath tub photos at a Wal-Mart in Peoria, Arizona.  Now, it's no surprise to me that employees of Wal-Mart would be personally unfamiliar with the concept of bathing, but our culture as a whole does embrace the practice and finding photographic evidence of children getting a bath should not be shocking to anyone with a lick of sense. Read the whole sordid tale, here.

What I find so totally amazing, is the credibility granted the Wal-Mart photo developer in our legal system. The employee deemed the photos to be in violation of their photo policy (don't bother looking, you won't find the actual policy).  That's fine. Don't make the prints.  But, the employee did not stop there.  She felt strongly enough about the photos to call the police.  The police agreed with said (specially trained, kiddie porn expert) employee and filed charges.  The whole scenario is truly nightmare inducing. It is the stuff of highly implausible Lifetime movies.  Who in their right mind would take happy, healthy children away from their family for THAT?

The answer is Wal-Mart.  Arizona law does not require them to report suspected child pornography, so they took this up on their own steam. They are amassing an army of under paid, untrained, rogue, undercover child welfare agents. 

Who's in the mood for everyday low pricing now? 

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