The shopping malls have become the "new Main Street." Except that nobody owned Main Street.
Stories like this one — about the ways malls are restricting Salvation Army bell-ringers this Christmas — are a reminder of the freedoms we give up when we exchange a truly public square for one that is the private property of some distant corporation.
That's not a particularly new insight, of course, but I do have one additional suggestion:
Before you head to your local version of The Mall, find out if they're allowing the Salvation Army's bell-ringers on the property. If not, get yourself a bell — a big, clanging, town-crier bell, if you can find one — and spread a little Christmas cheer while you shop. (Extra credit: When someone, inevitably, tries to get you to stop ringing the bell, try to get them to sing "Silver Bells" with you. Loudly.)