If you are like me you are probably feeling a little overwhelmed by all the gun deaths in the news this week. So I thought it would help to remind our readers that people die in other ways too. Today, I want to talk about stampedes.
I’m agoraphobic (fear of crowds), so stampedes and crushing scare me a lot. On December 24, 1913, in Calumet, Michigan, somebody yelled fire in a theater and 73 people died running for the exits. This is the event which tested the limits of freedom of speech and is where the expression “you can’t yell fire in a crowded theater” came from.
War causes stampedes as well. 354 villagers in Genoa, Italy died trying to escape into tunnels as the RAF bombed the town.
Circuses, sporting events, and rock concerts have seen many victims of stampedes and crushing. Then there is religion. Many people die each year on the Hajj or Journey to Mecca. Sometimes hundreds of people die on the pilgrimage. In his travels the Pope causes stampedes and claims a few victims as well.
The US is the proud home of the Black Friday stampedes (also called the Running of the Poor). This annual event captures the true essence of the American way of life almost as much as a mass shooting does.