This Walmart PR Tactic in the Wake of the El Paso Shooting Is Embarrassing and Inadequate

Politics Features Walmart
This Walmart PR Tactic in the Wake of the El Paso Shooting Is Embarrassing and Inadequate

Want to read something really stupid? From USA Today:

Following two shootings inside its stores, Walmart is removing violent videogame displays and signs from stores, the retailer confirmed Thursday.

Stores were sent a memo that called for “immediate action” to remove signing and displays that “contain violent themes or aggressive behavior.” The memo circulated on Twitter and Reddit, and Walmart officials confirmed its authenticity to USA TODAY.

If we weren’t dealing with such a serious issue, this would almost be worth a disgusted laugh. What’s the thinking behind this? That signage for violent videogames—not even the games themselves—plays a contributory role, and that removing said signs and displays will play a part in curbing mass shootings? Are they even going to get rid of the games themselves? Nope!

“We’ve taken this action out of respect for the incidents of the past week, and this action does not reflect a long-term change in our videogame assortment,” said Tara House, a Walmart spokeswoman, in a statement.

This is the most useless, cosmetic window-dressing in PR history, and it seems to boil down to the idea that at least for a few days, while El Paso and Dayton are fresh in our minds, people might complain about seeing violent imagery in a Walmart store.

The El Paso shooting, which left 22 dead, took place inside a Walmart, and as USA Today notes, there was another incident on Thursday in Missouri where a man with body armor and an assault rifle apparently did a “fake-out” shooting in another Walmart, in which he got his kicks by filming people as they fled the store.

Walmart could have responded in some meaningful way, by stopping the sale of guns or videogames, but that was always extremely unlikely. What they ultimately chose to do is embarrassing—a bromide because they felt like they couldn’t just do nothing. But in fact, they could have, and “nothing” is a far better option than the hypocrisy of pretending to care.

Read the Walmart memo below:

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