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Exploiting 9/11

The Sept. 11 attacks brought out the best in Americans: heroism, charity, and national purpose. At the same time, some are using this disaster for profit.

First, there was the hawking of souvenirs, such as miniature World Trade Center towers. Then, many companies offered condolences through what largely amounted to commercial advertising. Lately, some merchants have been selling products with dubious claims that they can protect against biological or chemical attacks. The list goes on.

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Such commercial exploitation could erode the national effort to end terrorism. It certainly doesn't show how to sympathize with families of victims, or build character and connect with one another.

One bizarre instance of such exploitation came last week, when a popular TV program that claims to conduct seances, "Crossing Over With John Edwards," intended to contact victims who died in the attacks. Thankfully, an advertising and public backlash forced producers to drop the effort. Also abandoned recently was a plan to sell pieces of the World Trade Center and Pentagon wreckage over the Web auction site eBay.

A free market is one of America's strengths, but that must be tempered by good taste and a stronger sensitivity to building a sense of community during a crisis like this one.