Jerry Bowyer: Fired for resisting a robbery | WORLD
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Jerry Bowyer: Fired for resisting a robbery


WORLD Radio - Jerry Bowyer: Fired for resisting a robbery

Lululemon’s “zero tolerance policy” for employees who act to protect themselves and merchandise goes against common sense

Lululemon, King's Road, Chelsea on September 18, 2022. Wikimedia Commons/Photo by Philafrenzy

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Wednesday, August 2nd. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Myrna Brown.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. WORLD Opinions writer Jerry Bowyer now on clothing brand Lululemon and the new “riot ideology”.

JERRY BOWYER, COMMENTATOR: The trendy retailer Lululemon shocked many recently when it fired, without severance, two employees for trying to stop the store from being robbed. When asked about the firing later, the CEO of the company showed no remorse about the firing or sympathy for the now unemployed workers. He referred to a “zero tolerance policy” against engaging with robbers and said of the pilfered inventory, “it’s only merchandise.” But of course, it’s not only merchandise. It’s property and it’s not his property, it’s the property of the shareholders. He is supposed to be a steward of that property on their behalf.

According to a report from the New York Post, these same suspects were alleged to have robbed the store before. A policy forbidding employees from attempting to stop a crime or engage robbers may be well advised and proper, but the former employees also claim that they were discouraged from calling the police. Further, the employees do not seem to have physically engaged the suspects, but rather verbally objected and followed them to the door as they fled the scene. Apparently, company policy is for employees to stand mute while the store is robbed a baker’s dozen times … or else.

It appears that the company has fallen prey to “the riot ideology,” a phrase coined in the 1960s. Back then, rioting in urban areas was used to pry federal funding out of the hands of taxpayers and drop it into the hands of urban social engineers. Fred Siegel, writing for the conservative Manhattan Institute, brought the phrase back into usage after the more recent riots and associated criminality. Originally, it was the belief that riots were the fault of the system rather than the thugs, and that the only proper response was reparations via social spending.

Today, the term “riot ideology” applies to more than riots. The newer version eschews public order altogether, presenting police as an occupying army that should withdraw, not reform. Of course, supporting criminals over shareholder interests is still part of it. What’s surprising is that a business that depends entirely on the suppression of larceny would buy into such an ideology. But then again, it’s only merchandise and, more to the point, it’s somebody else’s merchandise at that. But of course, we are not just talking about merchandise. We are talking about public order.

In some places where riot ideology once reigned supreme, it was eventually dethroned by the broken windows hypothesis. This refers to the observation that minor public disorder such as fare-jumping the subway or breaking the windows of an abandoned factory sends the message that “this is unguarded space.” No one is harmed more by that ideology than the poor and working class. It’s a shame that two employees, now unemployed, could see that so much more clearly than the CEO of the company.

I’m Jerry Bowyer.

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