Sanctity v. Cents (5×8 – 11/17/11)

The morality of Thanksgiving shopping, coverage of today’s Occupy march, PETA vs. Super Mario, the undersea world of a mine pit, and why turkeys can’t have sex.


Much was made this week of the petition started by Target employee Anthony Hardwick on his website, calling on the company not to open at midnight on Thanksgiving evening, and restore the sanctity of the holiday.

Target has fought back, the Pioneer Press reports, by letting the world know that the Omaha man has the day off:

The Target email said, “In early November, he (Hardwick) informed his Target managers that he was scheduled to work at his other job on Black Friday and indicated that he needed the day off from Target. We honored that request.”

But John Stankus, a stocker at the Target store in Cypress, Calif., has to work. “It’s their greed and their wanting to take advantage of us — because they’re not missing their Thanksgiving dinner,” he tells the Associated Press.

Stankus, 22, said his extended family gets together only once a year, so he’ll miss the chance to see relatives who probably won’t arrive at his aunt’s home before he has to leave to get enough sleep before starting work around 11 p.m. on Thanksgiving night.

“I’ll just get the crumbs and the leftovers they leave behind, but I won’t get any turkey at all and won’t get time to spend with my family,” he said. Stankus said he had considered not showing up and taking the consequences.

Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, who writes the On Faith blog at the Washington Post, considers this all “immoral.”

This system is profoundly immoral. First, the basic premise is false. These retailers don’t need to encroach on Thanksgiving in order to survive. Corporations are making huge profits, and they are increasingly doing so on the backs of American workers. “In the past 20 years, the US economy has grown nearly 60 percent,” according to Dan Gilson of Mother Jones. This is not only due to the Internet and automation, but also as a “result of Americans working harder–often without a big boost to their bottom lines. Oh, and meanwhile, corporate profits are up 20 percent.”

Second, the human toll of this increased “productivity” is “heartbreaking and harrowing,”as shown by personal stories of overworked Americans. The stories are crucial to understanding the human cost of our skewed economic values. From warehouse workers to surgeons, from teachers to mental health technicians, the stories in this article show how few escape the productivity treadmill powered by human overwork.

But people will vote on this issue with their wallets.


The big Occupy protest march in New York is underway, and there have already been several confrontations with police, who tried to stop the march by telling the protesters they didn’t have a parade permit. The marchers went around them.

Here’s a live video feed. I don’t know how long it will be up, and can’t swear by its suitability for the workplace. It’s been a very dramatic feed so far:

Another feed can be found here, although it’s less reliable.

Here’s the view from the news helicopter for CBS:

NPR’s Two Way blog is monitoring things.

If you can afford to quit your job to protest with the Occupy Wall Street movement, are you part of the 1 percent or part of the 99 percent?

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports today that Democrats are keeping an arm’s length relationship with the movement.

The detention of Associated Press reporters in the Occupy crackdown this week prompted the AP to send out a memo to its staff telling employees not to tweet about events before they’re reported on the AP wire, a backwards approach that fails to acknowledge that we’re in an era when news organizations no longer can dictate the terms on which people seek and obtain the news.

There was backlash to the memo on social networks, and a subsequent memo didn’t do much better, suggesting that AP employees who tweeted their their colleagues were picked up in the NYPD sweep endangered them. This BBC article, however, says it’s about preventing journalists from appearing to be human.

Having trouble understanding the Occupy movement? It helps if you’re a geek and think about it as an API, The Atlantic says.


People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is blasting Super Mario for wearing fur in the latest Nintendo version of the game.

Nintendo responded yesterday:

“Mario often takes the appearance of certain animals and objects in his games,” a Nintendo spokesperson told Eurogamer. “These have included a frog, a penguin, a balloon and even a metallic version of himself. These lighthearted and whimsical transformations give Mario different abilities and make his games fun to play. The different forms Mario takes make no statement beyond the games themselves.”

In any event, it’s perfect fodder for the Taiwanese news animator, NMA:


SCUBA diving in the Huntington Mine Pit in Crosby, from the Brainerd Dispatch:

An even better production is here.


If you like white meat on Thanksgiving, it’s your fault, according to Freakonomics. Turkeys were bred to have more breast meat, and now that’s keeping them in the way of doing the deed. It’s a tragic tale, really.


Around the country, some Occupy demonstrations are being shut down and others are facing new limits on their activities. And winter is coming, which will bring other pressures to bear on outdoor protests. Today’s Question: In the Occupy movement, are we seeing the end of something, or the beginning of something?


The Big Story blog will look at the taxation of goods sold online. We’ll examine what the law says now and how it might change, as Minnesota brick and mortar retail change push for the closing of loopholes that allow Internet shoppers to dodge taxes they’d pay if they were shopping in physical stores.


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: What parents and school professionals can do when they think a child has a mental illness.

Second hour: Melanie Dunea, portrait photographer whose work is regularly published in magazines such as Vanity Fair, Time, People, Redbook, and Ladies’ Home Journal. Her latest book is “My Last Supper; The Second Course.”

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: A profile of presidential candidate Newt Gingrich.

Second hour: A debate from NPR’s Intelligence Squared series: “Should Congress Pass President Obama’s Jobs Bill in Pieces?”

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Raising a terminally ill child.

Second hour: Behind the scenes of Cirque du Soleil.

  • Dave S.

    Only 17 votes on the survey as I write this, but it’s telling. About 6% of the respondents will be working, and ostensibly some of them will be working in order to allow a retail establishment to be open for the 0% who will be shopping and the 94% who will be sleeping.

  • John O.

    //But John Stankus, a stocker at the Target store in Cypress, Calif., has to work.

    It is no secret that working retail entails variable hours and enduring certain days or seasons of the year that everyone knows is coming. Tax accountants know that the last few days up to April 15 will always be grueling too.

    If one chooses to work in retail, that is part of the package–like it or not. It is going to be interesting to see what consumer response is at 12:01 am (or thereabouts) a week from tomorrow.

  • This all comes down to consumers and there is a percentage of consumers that will shop on Thanksgiving for fear of missing the “deals”. I don’t know if Bob has done a Black Friday poll in the past, but somehow I don’t think News Cut readers or really any MPR listeners are generally the ones that go shopping on these days.

    But as far as my opinion on the Target hours, I disagree with the decision on a societal level, but on an economic/business level I understand. This is the environment we’ve created. I saw a survey yesterday where over 90% of people thought that earlier hours were a bad thing. But until everyone stays out of the stores, the hours are going to keep getting longer.

  • JackU

    Let’s do the math that the current poll results reflect. (90 Votes, 1 shopper)

    Staying only in the Twin Cities Metro area we get the following figures:

    1. Population: approx 3.2 Million people

    2. If 1% of the population shops that’s about 32,000 shoppers.

    3. If one assumes that these shoppers are motivated “buyers” and on average they will spend $100 that’s $3.2 Million that will be spent by these shoppers and all the retailers want a chance at a piece of that pie.

    Should they do it? In my opinion no. But I also think that Christmas decorations shouldn’t go up before Thanksgiving and should come down by New Year’s Day.

  • BenCh

    I was interviewed by the Star Trib for a Black Friday piece they are doing, then I see that another one of their writers is doing another BF piece as well… if Black Friday also benefiting the news orgs too? There is certainly a lot of TV coverage of all the lines, lines, lines (read in Grinch voice).

    Seems like they might be perpetuating the situation…

  • David G

    “Interesting” that Target tries to delegitimize Hardwick’s petition by claiming he’s not personally affected by their business decision.

  • Annie


    Well I just saw two turkeys doing it in the peonies and mary golds in my back yard and I got pictures to prove it.

    Gosh, would that be considered pornography?

  • Caleb (CHS)

    Regarding Black Friday:

    I personally am glad that there is a growing backlash against the earlier openings. The stores can veil their practices as “It’s what the shoppers want” but that is just a smokescreen for the real reason for earlier openings; it’s about competing against each other for the shopper’s money. If you open earlier than the other store, you get an edge over them. All the consumers want is to get a good deal, if every store opened at 8am Black Friday the shoppers would still spend the same amount of money, and the holiday could be left what it should be, a time away from work to spend in whatever way you choose. The root of the problem seems to the whole idea of giving the deals only to the first so many shoppers, or for the first hours of opening, or ‘limited supplies’ of stock. That whole premise is a sham and is purely marketing. I agree with JackU almost completely, it’s just about the share of the pie, and I don’t think they should do it, but I understand why they do. I’ll be ‘voting’ with my dollars against Black Friday early openings. I used to just because I hated the crowds and the insane nature of it, now it’s because I disagree with these practices and the social impact.

    I also agree, Christmas decorations should not go up until after Thanksgiving (it’s what I use Black Friday for) but I go further than NYE, I say they need to come down on Epiphany. (12 days of Christmas, Jan 5)

    Regarding the turkey’s lack of ability to copulate:

    Bob, thanks for posting that up, turkey selective breeding wasn’t something specifically I had ever thought of until now, it makes perfect sense though. The idea of a so called ‘heritage’ bird is great, although the fact that I’m sure even the farmers markets around here are birds that had been “worked with” and I certainly couldn’t afford the price quoted in the article. Food for thought as they say.

  • Bob Collins

    // I got pictures to prove it.

    That’s what makes those turkeys “WILD”!

    Do I even have to say, “send me those pictures!” ?

  • Jamie

    Re: “What We’re Doing… Midday”…

    When is MPR going to profile Obama (and any other non-Republican candidates)? Democcratic/liberal/progressive ideas are getting marginalized in a lot of election coverage these days.

    Also Re: Midday… I love the Intelligence Squared broadcasts. Thanks to MPR for those.

  • Lesli in Minneapolis

    @BenCh: Expanding on your comments, who was it that said there’s no such thing as bad publicity? These retailers are getting an early Christmas present from everyone who covers this story.

  • Jennifer

    There was actually an episode of Dirty Jobs that was filmed at a farm near Kensington, MN where Mike Rowe artificially inseminated turkeys.

  • Bob Collins

    Awesome. I just embedded it.

  • jillyj73

    It’s kind of sad that the holidays have become all about consumerism. Personally, I’d rather spend time with my family (usually!) than go shopping on Black Friday. What if retailers opened at a reasonable time on Friday and just offered a deeper discount than their competitors that open Thursday night?

  • Kassie

    At midnight on Thanksgiving I will be at least an hour drive from the closest Target and two hours from a Best Buy. And I’ll probably be drunk. And playing cards with my parents.

    There is a thing going around about how to really “occupy wallstreet” and that’s to buy all your Christmas gifts from local, indy stores. And I couldn’t agree more. I’ll be making some of my gifts with food from my co-op or yarn from the local yarn store. The rest I’m going to buy from stores like Midwest Mountaineering and Belle Weather. And none of those stores will be open at midnight.

  • joetron2030

    To add a bit more to kassie’s comment above, if you really wanted to stick it even further to “Wall Street”, you would do it with cash and not with debit or credit cards. Allow those local, independent businesses to keep even more of the money you’re giving them.

    Jamie, I think there’s been very little coverage of the Democratic side of the presidential race because Obama is the presumptive nominee for the party. As far as I know there haven’t been any primary challengers (though I have not been following it closely either). With the GOP side as crowded and interesting as it has been, it’s no surprise that’s where the coverage has been focused. It wouldn’t surprise me if there was similar one-sided coverage back in 2004 when GW was the incumbent running for a 2nd term.

  • Emily N

    Did anyone catch Nature on PBS last night? A man imprinted on young turkeys and spent 2 years with them. It was a fantastic documentary.

  • Jamie

    joetron2030: Just because there’s a presumptive Democratic nominee doesn’t mean there doesn’t have to be equivalent coverage of the other sides of the issues. Of course, issues aren’t covered very much; it’s almost all “horserace.” But there’s SOME coverage of the issues, including what you see on debates and the soundbytes from the debates and other appearances. All that Republican spin (a generous term for what they mislead and lie about) becomes a sort of default “take” on the issues that a lot of non-thinking people accept as truth (and there are a lot more of those people than anyone ever wants to admit).

    Every bit of coverage of Republicans on the issues should be aired or published along with Democrats and other viable parties on those same issues — at the same time and in the same place, too.

  • Tom

    Re: Only buying from indy/mom and pop stores to get back at ‘big business’.

    Do you think Mom and Pop stores buy their products from other Mom and Pop stores? The local hardware store is busy sending their dollars to ‘big business’ as well to buy the stuff they sell to you. That CD from Electric Fetus? Bought from the same company that sells it to Target. Cute sweater at the local clothing store? Probably made in China like everything else.

    The healthcare offered for employees at Mom and Pops (if at all) probably comes from a big company.

    At least by buying local ( you actually help pay the wages and benefits for someone locally who also pays taxes and lives in the community whether it be from a big company or a small company.