What Do You Think This Is, America? 9/11 Memorial Not a Place to Ask Questions


why do you hate freedom so much?

In the received narrative of 9/11, the attacks were all about being hated for our freedoms—our free speech, our free press, our free commerce. (Go shop, live your lives, President Bush said after the attacks.) Thirteen years later, a 9/11 memorial is open at the former site of the World Trade Center and it isn't feeling like a place intended to practice those freedoms.  Gothamist's Jen Chung reports about an apparent "no questions" rule at the memorial:

Towards the middle of the exhibit, I overheard some loud voices. A young woman was berating a middle-aged woman who was talking on the cellphone. The middle-aged woman moved herself—and her conversation—to a corner of the room, her light, almost jovial phone chatter echoing loudly around the room. Finally, she got off the phone, and the young woman, who appeared to be disgusted, called her "disrespectful." I approached the young woman and said, "Hi, I'm a reporter. I was wondering, what happened just now?"

The young woman began to answer, but then a security guard interrupted us, asking, "What are you? You're a reporter?" I said yes, and he told me, "You can't ask any questions. You have to go through the 9/11 Memorial people." I said okay and left the woman alone.

I continued to walk through the exhibit, and a second guard came up to me. "You're the reporter?" he said. "You can't ask questions here. You can't." I said I understood and reassured him I had only spoken to one person, and she seemed perfectly willing to talk.

A third guard picked Chung up after she left the bathroom and told her he had to escort her out of the building. The museum's vice president for communications later explained to Chung that he had to clear all "media access" and that the museum rules prohibited harassing visitors who didn't want to be interviewed. Chung notes talking on a cellphone was prohibited too.

Earlier this week, meanwhile, the museum was the target of outrage for its gift shop, which sells 9/11-themed souvenirs like FDNY [Fire Department of New York] hats and NYPD [New York Police Department] charms. Critics didn't like the idea of commerce at the museum, even though proceeds from gift sales are supposed to go to fund the museum.

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  1. “This is New York, go practice your Freedom of the Press somewhere else!”

    /end guard

  2. They used to do that in front of the Supreme Court if you had a commercial grade camera too, try to make you fill out a media/commercial access form. I don’t mean inside, I mean out on the sidewalk out front.

    1. Um…here’s my form:

      U.S. Constitution – Amendment 1

      Amendment 1 – Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression

      Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

      So, um…fuck off!

      1. I tried that at the gun store. It didn’t work.

      2. Too bad the founders used “or” instead of “nor”.

        1. “Or” is grammatically correct. “Either,” is implicit in the construction of the statement. I.e., “Congress shall make no law regarding either this or this or that.” The rule of “either/or, neither/nor” still holds.

      3. You think constitution prohibitions on government action is somehow relevant to government power?

        That’s cute.

  3. You see, if that’d been me. I would told the rent-a-pigs, “I’m sorry, but I am afraid my two lawyers said that I could ask questions.” and when they asked who they were, I would have pulled out my Smith & Wesson .357 magnum and stuck it under his chin; and said, “These Two!”

  4. Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the War Room.

    1. +1 denied essence

    2. Citizen, you can’t be free in this room! This is the Freedom Room!

  5. Authoritarians gonna authoritate, yo.



  7. Come on, Ed. Most buildings in New York have rules and regulations, particularly AFTER 9/11 about certain conduct. I bet you have certain rules wherever the Reason offices are, and that you are hopeful that Security is aware of the rules and follows through.

    Those rules at the Memorial are clearly spelled out, including this one:

    “Any visitors to 9/11 Memorial & Museum Property, including members of the press/news media, must respect all other visitors, and must also realize that due to the unique somber nature of these locations, not all visitors wish to be photographed, videotaped, recorded or bothered in any other manner.”

    Chung herself admits “I should have read the rules first, because my intention was not to ruin someone’s moment in a hallowed space.”

    And it is hallowed space, there are rules about press interviews and where they can occur, she admitted she was a reporter, and she says that guard was apologetic saying he was just doing his mob.

    Which is all you would want from security. Surely there are more important libertarian issues to cover than this.

    1. What a nation of weenies we’ve become. The right to not be offended trumps all others.

      1. More and more like Europe every day. Yikes…

      2. Here are the weenies…those who just can’t accept that there might be places to abide by rules, because God knows that infringes on liberty.

        What a weenie. At least Chung is not a weenie. But Libertarians? Ha. Walking outside to conduct an interview is an infringement. Now that’s a weenie.

        1. What a good and proper bootlicker! Be sure not to stray from your free speech zone.

          1. Yeah sure. Your constitutional rights were infringed because there were limitations on where interviews could be conducted at a 9/11 memorial. If that was a business setting rules about prayer limitations in the workplace, you would be screaming it was their right. The whining here is getting hysterical.

            1. If that was a business setting rules about prayer limitations in the workplace, you would be screaming it was their right.

              Yeah, it’s almost like there’s a difference between private interactions between individuals and the broad treatment of everyone by the government or something.

    2. Jackand Ace|5.23.14 @ 5:31PM|#

      “Those rules at the Memorial are clearly spelled out, including this one:”

      The writer pointed out that there were also rules about talking on cell phones but those weren’t enforced.

      “and she says that guard was apologetic saying he was just doing his mob.”

      Doing his mob ?

      Freudian typo slip ?

      1. Me spell purty one day.

        Stop the whining. Must be a slow day at the Libertarian cause when a reporter is asked to stop reporting at a memorial for 9/11, and she admits it was her mistake. Find something important, oneout, other than pointing out spelling errers….uhoh…errors.

        1. Hey Jack, take a deep breath and slow down. The more you post, the more ignorant you sound.

    3. “particularly AFTER 9/11”?? So the terrorists did win?

    4. that guard was apologetic saying he was just doing his mob.

      A more apt typo was never made.

  8. No such issues with the Pearl Harbor Memorial.

    1. Give it time. We haven’t nuked Mecca and Medina, yet.

      1. And your point is?

  9. Ah, now the government is going to preemptively call one citizen talking to another “bothering them”, and then prohibit such bothering.

    We can only speak to one another when our speech has been vetted and approved by the government.

    Here I thought we’d lose all our free speech rights because of “offense”. “Bothering” is so much more endlessly applicable.

  10. I immediately knew that the events of 9/11 would be used to encroach on the freedoms of US citizens.

  11. So tell us all, Ed, what’s the libertarian view of what is allowed at places like the 9/11 Memorial. Anything goes? Because, you know, free speech. Anyone can put up a soap box and start preaching right there in the middle? Or are there limitations on free speech about that? The commission set the rules so that people could attend this memorial respectfully, including where interviews could take place. Even Chung admits that’s OK. But you? Read the comments you elicited with this ridiculous article. Is that the vision of the libertarian society? Anything goes? No rules? Do what you want, because…well, anything less is an infringement on your constitutional rights? Really, what a joke.

    1. what’s the libertarian view of what is allowed at places like the 9/11 Memorial.

      The property owner can decide to impose whatever rules he wants.

      Now would you like to hear the libertarian view of tragedies of the commons?

    2. Logical Fallacy. Your asinine examples in no way reflect what happened. You are a fool.

  12. Pretty much every facility big enough to have security guards will instruct them to direct all media inquiries through Public Relations people. Grow the fuck up, Reason.

  13. Start working at home with Google. It’s a great work at home opportunity. Just work for few hours. I earn up to $100 a day. I can’t believe how easy it was once I tried it out http://www.Fox81.com

  14. It’s a religious shrine of State Church.

  15. i hate to point this out, but, the twin towers were on private property and the current “memorial” is also on private property.. that is now listed as non-for profit property and is no longer paying property tax on some of the most valuable real estate in the world…

    and the owner had the building insured… twice…

    oh ponzi how we miss your simple scams.


  16. I believe there are actual discernible human remains in/around the memorial? I don’t know why the remains are still there or if they can’t be extracted. I think they can be because family members wanted them outside the memorial with an eternal flame. I believe this is the root cause of all the rules and the shop complaints? I have not visited, but it seems to me there would be confusion; memorial or cemetery? I know I have slightly different social etiquettes for each.

  17. If the museum is on private property, are the guards private or are they government employees?

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