I am not a violent person, but I would not want to be held responsible for my actions were I to encounter one of these troglodytes.
No sooner did news about space shuttle Columbia's disintegration make its way around the country Saturday than the action picked up at one of the usual places: eBay.
To no cynic's surprise, the Internet's leading auction Web site was fast replete with shuttle materials -- T-shirts, commemorative medals, patches, launch photographs. The items even included alleged actual shuttle materials -- debris, tiles, a prototype tailpiece.
At 8:40 a.m., there were 41 items for sale. By 4:30 p.m., there were 731.
Items that weren't bid on in previous weeks suddenly started fetching hundreds of dollars.
"I've sold three shuttle patches in recent weeks and the most one went for was $4.95," said Stephen Proctor, an unemployed Minnesota software developer. "I put one up for bid this morning and in an hour or two it had reached $255. It's ridiculous."
Proctor removed the patch from open bidding -- "I realized it was the wrong thing to do, I didn't want to be part of all that mongering" -- but few other sellers or buyers had such attacks of conscience. The Web site's "buy it now" feature, enabling customers to buy merchandise at a price above the opening bid, was being used at a record rate.
The items included some particularly unsettling hoaxes. Someone listed space shuttle debris and the one or more prankster bidders bid a price up to $21.5 million before eBay declared it invalid. Another seller tried to auction domain names like ColumbiaBlast.com, though they, too, were declared invalid.
Such profiteering is nothing new, of course. Murder memorabilia on eBay prompted Texas to pass a law prohibiting profiteering, and after Sept. 11, eBay officials placed a ban on the sale of any materials that referenced the Trade Center or the Pentagon. EBay officials could not be reached for comment Saturday.
What, in the end, makes these subhumans any different from the Iraqis who openly celebrated Columbia's demise? What if it had been one of your family, or a close friend who had been on board? Where is your humanity? Your sense of decency?
Clearly, if you're capable of this sort of blasphemy, you have none to offer.