Much has been made of the base jumpers and a teenager who face charges in connection with separate incidents in which they climbed to or near the top of the new World Trade Center.
The base jumpers, who have been charged with burglary, misdemeanor reckless endangerment and misdemeanor jumping from a structure, have come in for particularly harsh criticism. Their act was lawless, as the Port Authority of New York and the New York Police Department contend. It might even have been selfish, as the Port Authority and NYPD also said in joint statement.
But the allegation that the base-jumpers violated “hallowed ground” is bogus.
The World Trade Center is an impressive, even beautiful, building. But it is a commercial center, not a shrine. The memorial to 9/11 victims is nearby but separate.
Perhaps the contrived righteousness is intended to cover the Port Authority’s embarrassment that a curious teenager and some daredevils were able to enter and move around freely in what is supposed to be one of the most secure buildings in the United States.
Rather than throw the book at these young people, the Port Authority ought to be offering apologies to the public and prayers of thanks that their own carelessness didn’t contribute to the destruction by terrorists of the newest symbol of American exceptionalism.
We won’t excuse the trespassing, but it clearly was the lesser offense.