His account is detailed, and I have to say I vacillated between thinking he was a jerk and admiring his spunk. But he leaves out one key fact: did the Circuit City have a sign, prominently displayed in the front, which indicated that bags were subject to search? If so, then he agreed to enter private property under certain terms, and he should be bound by those terms. I think that Balko gets it exactly right:
If stores like Circuit City make clear that when you step onto their property, you agree to have your bags searched when you leave, then those are the conditions you agree to when you enter. Don't like it? Then shop elsewhere.
Now, I do happen to agree with Righi when he suggests that meek compliance with such demands is not exactly a good sign:
I am interested in living my life on strong principles and standing up for my rights as a consumer, a U.S. citizen and a human being. Allowing stores to inspect our bags at will might seem like a trivial matter, but it creates an atmosphere of obedience which is a dangerous thing.
Absolutely. Likewise the degrading and largely pointless rituals at aiport security and other places. But instead of welching on the deal he made with Circuit City when he entered this store, Righi has an alternative way to protest their policy: he can refuse to shop there. And with this internet thing, he can even organize he fellow search-objectors to refrain from shopping at stores like Circuit City and Best Buy en masse.
Nor is it likely that these stores implement such policies because they want to condition us to life ground beneath the heel of our corporate overlords. Rather, I'm guessing they pay somebody to sit outside the door and ask for receipts because such stores are prime targets for shoplifters. And I am guessing that they have a policy of asking everybody because their lawyers have told them that a more focused approach, where they ask some people but not others, will leave them open to discrimination claims by those who do get asked to their receipts.
I do think it was reasonable for the cop to ask to see his receipt, but once it became clear that the goods were not stolen, I don't see why it was necssary to take him into custody.