People deal with tragedy in many different ways. Whether it's a moment of silence for a beloved member of the community who recently passed away or a candle-holding ceremony for all the Pomeranians lost to the scourge of coyote attack, folks just need to express their grief in a way that's both solemn and tasteful. Or, for the low, low price of $9.99, you can get your hands on an authentic piece of shrapnel that's guaranteed to come straight from the skull of someone involved in the latest act of senseless violence. Just to prove that cashing in always takes precedence over common decency, we present you with ...
6The 9/11 Gift Shop
Within the first hour of a plane colliding with the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City on 9/11, eBay hawkers began selling chunks of the buildings online. No joke. It was a pretty gruesome testament to our species' capacity for callous, hyena-like greed, but eventually a memorial was constructed that gave Americans and visitors from around the world a place to reflect while remaining free from all the exploitative crap. Unless you count the T-shirts, key chains, rescue dog plush toys, tote bags, and ties.
"Never forget ... to check out our half-price sale on smoke detectors!
The savings are practically a crime against humanity!"
When the 9/11 Memorial Museum was opened to the public last year, many were more than a little perturbed by the inclusion of a gift shop that peddled items that seemed less appropriate for the site of a tragedy and more befitting of the impulse bin in one of those Hudson News stores at the airport. While at least there weren't Mets jerseys emblazoned with "Mohamed Atta" on the back, in addition to the aforementioned items there were also 9/11-themed mugs, mouse pads, toy firetrucks, and jewelry on display. And -- before it was removed on the grounds of parasitic revoltingness -- a cheese plate in the shape of the United States with little hearts marking the points of impact for each of the hijacked planes.
"Our tote bags are so sturdy that in a pinch they could even double as a parachute
in case you need to jump off a high-rise! Ha ha!"
Obviously, the people who actually lost friends or family members on that day weren't especially enthused with the inclusion of a Spencer Gifts-style tchotchke-fest at the memorial. Diane Horning, whose son not only lost his life in the Towers but also remains there to this day, as no traces of him were ever recovered, sure wasn't:
"To me, it's the crassest, most insensitive thing to have a commercial enterprise at the place where my son died. Here is essentially our tomb of the unknown. To sell baubles, I find quite shocking and repugnant. I think it's a money-making venture to support inflated salaries, and they're willing to do it over my son's dead body."
Maybe the conspiracy dipshits can have their own kiosks like the people
at the mall who sell kitten calendars.
Presumably, she did not make this announcement while wearing a "darkness hoodie," which you can apparently still buy right now for the reasonable price of $39. Oh, by the way, during the formal opening of the museum, which Mayor Michael Bloomberg attended, it was announced that plans were in the works to open a cafe at the site. Public outcry has led to some adjustments to the current presentation, though, and hopefully prevented the sale of lunchtime options like a "melted girder cheese sandwich" or a "lingering effects chili bowl."
5The Website That Traffics In Serial Killer Memorabilia
A lot of people, myself included, find the subject of serial killers rather intriguing. But, though I may have a morbid fascination with the real-life monsters in our midst, it doesn't mean I have any plans to decorate my den with John Wayne Gacy paintings, my kids' rooms with Charles Ng origami sculptures, or to keep a Satanic Bible signed by "Night Stalker" Richard Ramirez on the dresser of our guest bedroom (I usually prefer deploying a sackful of feeder crickets to scare off visiting relatives). Apparently, there are people out there who enjoy collecting heinous stuff like that, though, and luckily for them a man named William Harder has a website designed specifically to serve their creepy-ass needs.
Describing himself as a "murderabilia" collector, Harder is the proprietor of MurderAuction.com, which introduces itself with a clammy handshake of a quote from renowned taxidermist/Buffalo Bill-prototype Ed Gein: "Every man needs a hobby." The site makes available all sorts of touching mementos from history's most bloodthirsty psychopaths, including banal items such as court documents, signed baseballs, and even high school diplomas belonging to the absolute worst specimens mankind has produced. There's technically nothing wrong with keeping items like this in your home, I suppose, if you're a fan of the "social pariah" lifestyle or enjoy the occasional poltergeist infestation.
Framing for this type of artwork is not recommended, as glass shards only give
the vengeful spirits more to work with.
Harder isn't just interested in the items alone. He's taken quite a hands-on approach with those who provide him with his wares, visiting convicted murderers in prison and appearing in buddy-buddy photographs with the likes of Charles Manson. OK, now the hobby just walked out of Creepytown, boarded the skullfuck train, and is headed straight toward Maniacville. But it's a living, I guess, and there's no law saying he can't engage in these types of activities. But what can be illegal about the whole "murderabilia" shtick is when the murderers are making a profit as well, based solely on their criminal notoriety. It's at that point that people just might stop defending your "unorthodox hobby" and start looking for another website that sells torches and pitchforks.
Take, for example, the good citizens of Jasper, Texas, who were at the flashpoint of one of the worst hate crimes in memory after white supremacist John King dragged James Byrd to death behind his pickup truck. Thinking perhaps that they had seen the last of King 15 years ago, they (along with Byrd's family, obviously) weren't overly pleased when they saw his face, grinning at them from death row, on a signed photograph up for sale on Harder's site. But let's let one of Byrd's sisters, Louvon Harris, do the talking:
"That's unbelievable, unacceptable to me. And, as a victim of a hate crime, I think that we've been slapped in the face."
via Serial Killers Ink
We can only hope a daily regimen of slapping is the mildest thing Hell has in store for this guy.
For the record, Harder isn't the only one out there trafficking in "true crime collectibles." And he absolutely denies paying prisoners for memorabilia (although he does admit that he's given King money "to help pay for toiletries and other necessities"). Also, keep in mind that, even if Harder did pay death-row inmates for stuff to auction off, it might not meet the standard set out by the Son Of Sam Law, which prohibits people like King from profiting directly from their crimes. But the Texas Department Of Criminal Justice clearly didn't give two convulsive shits about any of that and went ahead and banned Harder from any future visitations.
Making it all the more difficult for those looking for just the right piece
to make their child's nursery really pop.