Menstuff® has compiled the following information on what WalMart thinks of children.

Walmart levies lifetime ban against gay couple
WalMart tells junior girls to kick, hit, spray insecticide in boys' faces
Get Um Young and Train Um
WalMart Continues to Encourage "No Boundaries" for Young Girls"
Let the CEO know what you think
Board of Directors (as of 4/1/04)

WalMart tells junior girls to kick, hit, spray bug spray in boys' faces

What one person can do: Mary Lou saw something at WalMart that was very disturbing. She wrote:

"As a mother of two adult sons, it breaks my heart to think of boys being subjected to this stuff."

The T-shirts in "A" were purchased at Walmart in Poway, CA on 8/13/07.  The T-Shirts in "B" are artistic alterations of the original, where the gender is reversed to emphasize how unacceptable this violence really is.

She contacted WalMart to no avail and decided to go to her local television station. (See story.) The station's Consumer Alert group aired this:

Click on icon.

"I wanted to thank you for working on the issue of Walmart's violence-promoting T-Shirts for girls. I watched the news story and it was excellent, and the interviewed parents seemed really offended by the shirts too.

"I've not seen any other mention of the subject anywhere, and noticed yesterday that Walmart still has these for sale. Has there been any follow-up to this? I'm curious as to whether News8 has heard back from Walmart's CEO. I had also contacted the local newspapers with letters, another news station, school principals and Walmart's main office, none of whom responded at all.

"Maybe I'm in a minority here, but I feel this is such an important subject. Female-against-male domestic abuse, I'm afraid, is fairly common yet nobody really seems too concerned. Men are supposed to just "take it" I guess, in our society.

"And our so-called "family values" Walmart encourages it in children."



Actual T-shirts purchased at Walmart in Poway, CA on 8/13/07. 

Not actual designs, genders reversed for effect, not for sale. Note how you feel when seeing the role reversal.

Walmart levies lifetime ban against gay couple

Walmart (WMT) may position itself as the store for the common man, but sometimes it can act downright elitist. In fact, it even goes so far as to issue lifetime bans on certain customers. The most famous recipient of the ultimate shunning is actress Megan Fox, who, according to some sources, was permanently banished from Wally World because of a shoplifting incident when she was a teenager. Now, thanks to a pack of lighters, two upset children and a ham-handed response from the store's employees, a Chicago-area gay couple, Joe Paolucci and Thomas Hitchcock, have also been blacklisted.

According to a report in the South Bend Tribune, the couple, both of whom are attorneys, were shopping at a Niles, Ill. Walmart with their two adopted sons. Hitchcock shepherded the boys through a checkout line while Paolucci picked up a few last-minute items at a self-service register. Store video surveillance shows that Paolucci scanned all the items in his possession, put them in a grocery bag, paid and left. However, as he met up with Hitchcock and the boys on the way out of the store, the group was stopped by security. The in-store guards asked Paolucci if he had purchased a pack of lighters. Paolucci said yes, handed over the bag, and showed his receipt, the newspaper reported. Unfortunately, things didn't end there.

There are conflicting accounts of what happened next. According to the paper, Walmart claims that the two men became "uncooperative," while Paolucci and Hitchcock say that the store's employees were verbally abusive and vulgar. The pair admitted to the newspaper that they fought against being placed in an in-store "security room," because they were worried about what would happen when they were out of sight of the sales floor. They then asked store employees to call the police.

When the police arrived, the pair were placed in the backseats of separate squad cars while their sons were placed in the care of Walmart store personnel. After 45 minutes and a review of the store's security tapes, the couple was cleared of any wrongdoing.

Nevertheless, Walmart banned the two for life. Store personnel warned Paolucci and Hitchcock that they must leave the premises immediately or they would be arrested for trespassing, the couple told the newspaper. As an added smack in the face, Walmart later sent them a $158.40 bill for the lighters. Calls to both Walmarts in Niles, Ill. could not produce anyone who was familiar with the incident.

It seems strange that Walmart decided to push the issue this far. In 2006, the retailer announced that it would only press charges against shoplifters if the items in question were worth $25 or more. Given that Paolucci's lighters cost a little less than $16, it's surprising that the store's management decided to detain the pair, particularly given that they were regular customers and owned a business in the area.

Many members of the media have latched upon the Paolucci/Hitchcock affair as evidence that Walmart may be homophobic. The pair claims that, while they were in custody, Walmart security harassed their sons and made disparaging remarks about their lifestyle.

They also claim that the police were less than helpful. According to the couple, the police refused to take statements from the boys, and referred Paolucci and Hitchcock to Child Protective Services. After extensive phone calls to the Sheriff's Department, the pair managed to get their sons interviewed, but the law enforcement officers and the county prosecutor refused to cooperate when Paolucci and Hitchcock requested that they proffer charges against Walmart.

The pair told the South Bend Tribune that they believe the Sheriff's office has refused to act because of questions about its handling of the event. Given the police report cited in the newspaper's story, there is also some evidence to suggest that Hitchcock and Paolucci are not completely without blame. While the report definitively concludes that Paolucci was not shoplifting, it also states that the pair were "causing a scene, being very loud [...] while yelling and swearing at Walmart security." In context, it seems possible that the pair's detention was due in part to their own behavior.

Walmart's heavy-handed treatment of its customers has been an issue before. In addition to the highly-publicized Fox banning and other shoplifting-related bans, people have allegedly been put on the blacklist for taking disparaging photos near the store, pretending to be union organizers, and even resembling Osama bin Laden!

Let the CEO know what you think

You'll get a run-around for sure if you e-mail the CEO. You are required to submit a lot of personal information to do so and it's directed to the local Walmart, not to the CEO. We suggest sending a letter to the CEO. You'll still probably get the run-around, but give it a try and let us know what happens.

Via snail mail

Leo Scott, CEO
WalMart Stores, Inc.
Bentonville, Arkansas 72716-8611.

By phone

1-800-WAL-MART (1-800-925-6278).

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