Penn & Teller Give al Qaeda the Finger

There has been much debate over what should be done with ground zero since the towers fell six years ago. Unfortunately, politics and political correctness has caused the WTC site to remain a giant hole in the ground. So what should be done with this hallowed ground? Build the “Freedom Tower,” turn it over to developers for retail space, or build a memorial that all the victims’ families can live with?

Penn & Teller addressed this issue on their Showtime series Bullshit! Their suggestion: if we really want to give al Qaeda the finger and honor the fallen, we should rebuild the WTC exactly the way it was before the attack. This would send the message to both our friends and foes that we Americans will continue to do what we do: live our lives, pursue our individual happiness, and not be intimidated by those who would endeavor to take that away from us.

Warning: This clip contains explicit language (but what else would you expect from a show called Bullshit!?)

I should have checked the status of Ground Zero before posting; construction has already begun on the Freedom Tower. While the idea of rebuilding the WTC exactly as it was before the attack is now a moot point, Penn & Teller’s point about Americans returning to business as usual is not. We should continue to reflect on both the horrors and heroism of that fateful day but we should also move forward. The construction of the Freedom Tower might not be my preference but it is still better than leaving a giant crater in NYC.

  • UCrawford

    Problem with Penn’s suggestion is that the technology of the building was 40 years old and there were several stories in the years before 9/11 that indicated that the facilities were far from ideal for several of the tenants.

    Personally, I say let the owners of the property do what they want. They’re the ones with ownership rights, they’re the ones who should decide. If they want to build a Freedom Tower and rent it out they should get to do so. If they want to turn it into a memorial for the families, they should get to do so. The idea that anyone but the property owners should have final say is simply statist. I like “Bullshit”, but I thought P & T made a rather stupid point there, considering the overall tenor of their show.

  • UCrawford

    Actually, after doing a little digging, it appears that the New York/New Jersey Port Authority has ownership, making it public property. So considering that there’s no real issue of private ownership here (unless the city decided to do the smart thing and sell the property off) I suppose I’d rather they turned it into a nice park or memorial instead of rebuilding or creating their Freedom Tower. At least then they wouldn’t be flooding the commercial real estate market with subsidized space or blowing city money on costs affiliated with construction. The city could leave the lot as is and it would probably be less ridiculous or damaging to private industry than whatever plan a bunch of bureaucrats and politicians will eventually come up with.

  • Stephen Littau

    I could be wrong but I don’t think P&T are actually saying that the government should decide what to do with the property; I think they are just giving their opinion on what they think should be done. I probably should re-watch the episode because I don’t remember exactly who the owner(s) are or what they wanted to do with the property. I’m sure the owner(s) signed off on the creation of the commission due to the sensibilities of the families involved (but then again, I could be wrong).

    To your first point: obviously everything would have to be built to modern building codes and I’m sure there would be other improvements. I think P&T’s point was that if those who are wishing to design a new WTC want to give the most respect to the families and send the terrorists a message, the WTC should look like the original.

  • UCrawford


    I think that government making empty, unproductive gestures with the idea that terrorists will actually care does more to help the terrorists than it does to help us. Do you honestly believe that terrorists spend their time pondering what we’re going to build in place of the WTC? It probably amuses them more that we spend so much time constantly fixating on it. As George Herbert once said, “Living well is the best revenge”, and the best way to live well is to move past this state of perpetual grieving, anguish and wallowing in victimhood that comes up every time 9/11 gets mentioned.

    Grief may be a natural process, but it was never meant to be an eternal one. After six years, it’s about time we got over ours. If we really want to come up with the most productive solution for the WTC site, we won’t waste time debating what the best-government funded solution should be…which is what we always seem to be doing in regards to Ground Zero and anything 9/11-related.

  • Stephen Littau

    I get what you’re saying but isn’t rebuilding the next logical step to getting back to business as usual? Even if this has no impact on the psyche of the terrorists, I believe rebuilding would do much to help the American psyche.

    Also, I don’t think we should ever completely “get over it.” Parents, sons, and daughters were all taken away from their families that day. Remembering and reflecting is not the same thing as being a victim. Personally, I think we should all do a lot more reflecting than we do while remaining vigilant.

  • UCrawford


    You’re falling into the collectivist trap when you use “the American psyche” as a justification. There’s no such thing…we’re a nation of individuals and our liberty and individual freedom is what builds our psyches, not government action.

    Seriously, what has all this collective navel-gazing and unending grief over 9/11 gotten us? We got the PATRIOT Act, a bill by which government has allowed itself to violate our Constitutional protections to provide the illusion of safety. We’ve given the president carte blanche to determine what laws apply to him and when. We allowed our president to take us into a war with a country that didn’t attack us (Iraq) under the subliminal understanding that all those crazy Ay-rabs are a bunch of murdering bastards who deserve whatever we do to them. We’ve allowed, and often supported, a foreign policy openly based on aggressive military conquest instead of diplomacy. We give him a pass on his shitty war policies in Iraq and Afghanistan whenever he brings up the specter of 9/11 in Iraq speeches (which he does frequently). We’ve made Iraq far worse off than it was under Saddam Hussein, and gotten more Americans killed doing so than died on 9/11. We’ve turned our airline industry into a dysfunctional overregulated mess that no sane consumer would ever frequent if they had a reasonable alternative. We’ve given our government the authority to detain and torture who they want without trial. And we’ve turned a large portion of the world against us because our most powerful leader has used the pervading sense of victimhood in this country to justify actions that 10 or 20 years ago would have been unthinkable and would likely have resulted in impeachment. And that’s just the stuff on the surface…there are probably a hundred other examples I can name where this worship of 9/11 has put us well on the path to becoming everything Americans used to despise.

    I’m not saying that 9/11 didn’t mean anything…but it doesn’t mean everything. And while I’m sympathetic to people who lost family members, that was six years ago and I’m a hell of a lot more sympathetic to the families of the military men and women we still lose now (many of whom are friends of mine) fighting these fucked up wars for that shitheel Bush. And I don’t have a lot of sympathy for the sense of entitlement born out of the 9/11 victim mentality that’s allowed Bush’s transgressions against both our lives and our liberty to take place. Being victimized unexpectedly by a group of terrorists in airplanes is one thing…it’s tragic and beyond our control. Allowing our elected leaders to victimize us (and our fellow countrymen) by stripping our freedoms, because we can’t stop wallowing in self-pity and fear and accept responsibility for our lives and our actions is another. It’s unforgiveable.

  • Hello Goodbye

    That is the EXACT question I asked my parents “Why can’t we just build it again, what are they going to do?” in fact, we should just build an EVEN BIGGER and more advanced skyscraper in its place, tallest in the world, that would be awesome.

  • Joshua

    I say Rebuild not EXACTLY, but the same as in new Twin Towers with upgraded safety features. Think of the plan Donald Trump endorsed.

    The WTC rebuilding officials lied to the public by claming this WTC plan was the result of an “open, democratic process.” Yet then governor Pataki and current Mayor Bloomberg have taken entire control of the site, not allowing the public to have any say whatsoever.

    Eliot Spitzer had referred to the rebuilding process as an “Enron-Style Debacle” while Pataki was still in office (however, he is still allowing this to be built, likely out of impatience). Despite Spitzer’s failure to bring these people to justice, this new WTC is still the result of a scandal that will have international impact.

    Also, the new WTC plan is no safer than the old. The Freedom Tower’s bunker base (an act of pure cowardice) may protect it from car bombs, but the other buildings are vulnerable. The restoration of the street grid only makes it easier for terrorists to attack; the new WTC practically ENCOURAGES TERRORISTS to attack it.

    As for the memorial plan? A bunch of random names, a pair of giant in-ground toilets, an open space with a single piece of WTC steel, and a museum. The victims will be stripped of their identities, including the 1993 victims, the children on Flight 175, and Frasier producer David Angell (Flight 11)

    If this scandal, this debacle, this symbol of cowardice and loss of freedom is built…

    …then Al Qaeda has a right to attack us.

  • UCrawford


    Looks to me like the New York government did exactly what you’d expect government to do…a crap job.

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  • Thomas

    This is a great idea, the only idea that makes any sense and they should have started re-building it 6 years ago.

  • montag46

    Why not a building in the shape of a middle finger
    actively giving the finger?

    I suppose the rest of the world might get the wrong idea and think we are also giving it to them.
    Well, why not.