Newspeak and Thoughtcrime at Wal-Mart

Newspeak and Thoughtcrime at Wal-Mart

Many of us already have a love-hate (mostly hate) relationship with Wal-Mart. We know it puts small businesses out of business. We know it’s full of greenwashing, sweatshop products, employees who are unfairly treated and denied the right to unionize or even sometimes obtain benefits. We know it’s synonymous with cheap crap, and we know that the weird people seem to congregate there. We also know that millions of Americans are suffering, and when they only have forty bucks to buy groceries or clothing or school supplies for a family of four, Wal-Mart is often where they end up turning.

Soon, when any of us turn to Wal-Mart, we’ll also be greeted with a delightful Orwellian message from the Department of Homeland Security. This video message, featuring the face of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, will ask customers to be on the lookout for suspicious activity—without defining what this means, of course—and to report it as soon as they see it.

I’d love to say that this is made up—a modernized telling of 1984, perhaps, or a publicity stunt for the upcoming Hunger Games movie—but it’s not. And it’s only about 25 years late.

Does the Department of Homeland Security not already know how paranoid so many of the people who shop at Wal-Mart already are? I do, because many of them are my relatives and neighbors, and speak of government death camps and stocking up on guns and living in caves to defend themselves against the government—more stuff I wish I were just making up. It’s almost as if the government is hoping to stoke this Jesse Ventura-fueled fire even bigger. Perhaps they simply mean to turn citizens against one another in hopes of keeping them from turning against the government instead (now who’s conspiracy theorizing?). Wonder how long it will take before people are offered free gas or a medal or a Wal-Mart gift card to report something “suspicious”?

Some of the text of the video includes, “If you see something suspicious in the parking lot or in the store, say something immediately. Report suspicious activity to your local police or sheriff. If you need help, ask a Walmart manager for assistance.”

Yeah, the last time I asked a Wal-Mart manager for assistance he basically told me to go screw myself, though in not so many words. I didn’t really mind, though, since he was probably depressed about his job and the fact that he can’t be in a union. But that’s beside the point.

The video is expected to be launched in 600 different stores throughout 27 districts—er, states.

Panem, here we come.