Friday, August 19, 2005

The Wal-Mart Thought Police


As you have probably heard, the "everyday low prices" at these concrete boxes of utopian consumption have tremendous costs for our environment, our workers, our wages, our communities, and the public coffers. But they also come at the expense of free speech and artistic expression, as the corporation targets items that often include progressive criticism of conservative values.

Based in Bentonville, AR, the brand behemoth has become the self-appointed culture police by screening the music, books and magazines that many Americans will be able to access -- in a number of communities, Wal-Mart is the only convenient store in the area stocking culture products.

here for the rest.

This was the issue that first got me hating Wal-Mart back in the mid 90s. Since then, much more has come to light about how and why the vast retail chain sucks the big one, like their crappy pay rates, sexist employment practices, and lack of health insurance for most employees, but the censorship issue coupled with their advancement of conservative philosophy is still what gets under my skin the most. Of course, Wal-Mart is a private entity, and legally is entitled to sell or not sell whatever products it likes, but that doesn't change the fact that their behind-the-scenes manipulation of people's perceptions of reality is a major factor in the so-called "culture wars." As the article observes, the retailer is the biggest CD seller in the world: in many locations, Wal-Mart is the only place to buy books, movies, and music. Because their corporate version of "family values" is often the only version available, their power to affect American understanding of important issues becomes almost as strong as the mass media's, and easily as rightwardly skewed as Fox News.

My, oh my, how Wal-Mart sucks.