Earlier today, I shared this little bit of gross via Twitter: “The 9/11 museum’s absurd gift shop” (May 18, 2014).

Via the New York Post, this is some of what reporter Susan Edelman had to say:

The museum at Ground Zero tells the dark story of the 9/11 terror attacks with spectacular artifacts and exhibits. It pays heart-wrenching tribute to the innocents and heroes killed that day.

It also has a gift shop.

The 9/11 museum’s cavernous boutique offers a vast array of souvenir goods. For example: FDNY, NYPD and Port Authority Police T-shirts ($22) and caps ($19.95); earrings molded from leaves and blossoms of downtown trees ($20 to $68); cop and firefighter charms by Pandora and other jewelers ($65); “United We Stand” blankets.

There are bracelets, bowls, buttons, mugs, mousepads, magnets, key chains, flags, pins, stuffed animals, toy firetrucks, cellphone cases, tote bags, books and DVDs.

Even FDNY vests for dogs come in all sizes.

After paying $24 admission for adults, $18 for seniors and students, and $15 for kids 7 to 17, visitors can shop till they drop. (here)

Gross. I even wrote that in my tweet – gross.

But then I received an interesting comment:

This is a very good point – why am I (and, by proxy, why are we) so riled up about this one specific museum gift shop?

Alcatraz Island has a gift shop/bookstore, and there are about ten others dedicated to cell block swag scattered around Pier 39. I’ve even bought stuff there. (at the on-island one) But they were all prisoners so who cares… – heavvvy sarcasm. The Museum of  Tolerance in LA also has a gift shop, and I’ve bought stuff there too. And I don’t feel bad about that either. Put simply: neither the Alcatraz nor the Museum of Tolerance gift shops *offended* me enough to write “gross” like this news about the 9/11 shop did.

Why? Why is, for example, the Museum of Tolerance ok in my head? It memorializes events and patterns of thought just as awful as 9/11… But I don’t feel offended by that space selling what’s ultimately probably also overpriced guilt-junk. Thus, is it “ok” because a greater amount of time has passed? Or is it because the Museum of Tolerance represents specific targeted communities (verses all of ‘merica, you know, like in general)?

In reality, there’s actually no difference – each instance is using human misery and tragedy to sell tchotchkes and souvenirs to people on vacation. (wtf?!!) It’s ALL actually kinda gross.

After thinking on this issue a bit more, I would really love to see a comparative analysis done between the 9/11 memorial gift shop and any/all other big deal human tragedy emporium(s). Is today’s example really that egregious? Or did we (I) just fall for it because of emotive writing and glossy pictures in the New York Post?

Need some insights on society, social justice, and the rules of perception? Make an appointment for consultation services right here.


(pictured: FDNY Rescue Dog Vest, $39.95; image from source here)

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