FOR SALE! BAN THE MEDIA'
As seen in the October 2003 issue of Auction World
Recently a bill introduced by Republicans in New York's state legislature has proposed a bill that seeks to ban auction of items used in crimes.
The legislation was prompted, in part, by the potential commercial value of debris from the World Trade Center towers, the crash of the space shuttle Columbia and a recent online auction of a bullet-riddled front door of shooting victim Amadou Diallo, a Bronx man who died in a hail of police gunfire.
Similar non-legislative issues were successful with the online auction company, eBay where the company prohibits the sale of Nazi related memorabilia. On the same issue, a French court threw out a lawsuit by Holocaust survivors and human rights activists who said Yahoo! Inc. should be held legally responsible for auctions of Nazi paraphernalia that were held on its web site because French law bars the display or sale of racist material.
All this leads up to the controversial question - Should it be illegal to ban the sale (auction) of items used in crimes hence to profit from a tragic event? As it turns out, right now several states including California and Texas have laws that already prohibit people from profiting from crime scene memorabilia.
Going back to the question, should it be illegal to ban the sale (auction) of items used in crimes or tragic events? Absolutely not. I totally oppose any legislation that prohibits the sales of Nazi related and crime scene artifacts and this includes but is not limited to remnants of the World Trade Center.
For beginners, this is a country of supposed free enterprise which seems to be quietly slipping away. Secondly, it apparent that every time you turn around, some board politician is looking for another way to get himself some free publicity by stirring up and making up ridiculous legislative issues when at the same time, we have people out in the streets.
One big problem I have with such legislation is it looks great on the surface, but the reality to the matter is, you're not getting the 'rest of the story'. It can be compared with the banning of firearms issue. Doesn't that sound like a great plan? Convince the law abiding citizens to turn over their firearms and HOPE the criminals who possess such weapons illegally will follow suit. Not even in the perfect world would such a scenario materialize.
To ban the sale of crime scene memorabilia is hypocritical.
The New York bill that seeks to ban auction of items used in crimes is dangerous and it makes you wonder not if but when the hidden agenda will surface. Where exactly would such legislation stop? Okay, you cannot sell Nazi related items or crime scene artifacts but it's perfectly fine to sell war memorabilia, autographs of deceased notables and paintings of John Wayne Gacy.
While lawmakers are at it, they should ban the sale of ANYTHING that might offend someone. How about banning the sale of Black Memorabilia, the sale of pornography and Indian arrow heads? I'm being sarcastic of course.
Lets take a look at the space shuttle Columbia disaster. Although not a 'crime scene' it was a situation where anyone that possessed debris from the shuttle would have certain legal consequences. However, this is understandable because there was an ongoing investigation underway. Therefore, nobody should have the opportunity to sell anything that is part of a legal investigation. Case closed.
What about the the sale of selling pieces from the World Trade Center? This is how it works. If you're selling a piece off the building you're the scum of the earth. However, if you show someone, "Look. This is a piece off the World Trade Center." Then all the sudden, it has some sort of appeal and it's neat.
There is also a time sensitive window involved as well. If you're we're trying to sell a piece from the World Trade Center in the heat of the tragedy then you were the Son of Sam. Wait five years or so and then it's considered a piece of historical history.
Let's take this a step further. What about souvenirs that could be purchased at the World Trade Center prior to the catastrophic event? For a time, ANYTHING pertaining to the Trade Center was a hot ticket item. Oh that's different. No it isn't - not in the least! Someone is gaining financial benefit from a tragic event. The bottom line is this, the sale of such items should be left to your own moral beliefs NOT left to a legal issue. To make it a "law" is ridiculous and unconstitutional.
When tragedy strikes it's inevitable that someone is going to benefit. The news media are probably the greatest beneficiaries of a tragic event. Look at the cable news networks when a major tragedy takes place - 'Round the Clock Coverage of...." (OJ Simpson Trial, JFK Jr Plane Crash, September 11th, War in Iraq, Laci Peterson Murder and the list goes on) Why does the news media cover such events? Because people want it. Why do people sell 'crime scene memorabilia'? Because people buy it.
I read somewhere where one politician stated that the sale of 'crime scene' memorabilia was "glorifying" the event. When was the last time some weak minded individual was influenced to commit a similar act of violence because they saw an item of a crime scene sell for big bucks on eBay? However, how many times have you heard where some wacko was influenced to carry out an act of violence because of the national attention a similar incident received? Here is a refresher course for you. The ever so unstable, David Chapman that took the life of the Beatles John Lennon because he seeked fame. How about the school shootings that intensified throughout the nation after the Columbine, Colorado massacre.
Heck. It was our OWN government that created the deck of playing cards (available for sale by the way) that portrayed Saddam Hussein and his regime! Now how's that for ya.
Here is the solution to whatever problem the politicians are attempting to resolve. Let's say ban the reporting on anything that even resembles a crime. School shootings, capital punishment, bank robberies, terrorist acts, America's Most Wanted, COPS, Rap music, Kidnappings and missing dogs. The newspapers would be one page thick and television would be out and out boring but nobody would be benefiting from such tragic events.
Two necessary components the make up a saleable item is SUPPLY and DEMAND. Therefore, remove the 'demand' factor from the equation and there is no sale. The 'DEMAND' is created by the media.
Ridiculous. I think so.
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