I consider myself rather fortunate that I did not lose anyone I know in the tragic events of September 11. The closest I come is that my best friend works a dozen or so blocks from the WTC -- but he's a slacker and hadn't left for work that Tuesday morning, so he wasn't even in Manhattan at the time.
That being said, I am taking the attacks (both NYC and DC) pretty hard. These events hurt me, hurt my perception of the world. It's easy to dismiss these feelings by spouting off how ignorant Americans are, but that's not the case with me: not only have I been able to name and locate every country on a map of the world since the fifth grade (in public school, no less), I take pride in staying atop current global events. Even with this fairly good knowledge, I never thought something like this would happen. Sure, something like this was a possibility. But an asteroid smashing into the earth is also a possibility, and before September 11, I'd have ranked the asteroid as more likely than terrorists crashing multiple airplanes into multiple national targets.
So, the events have caused me a lot of pain, and I still twinge whenver I see an image of the World Trade Center. But despite that pain, the last thing I would ever want is to never see the towers again. Watching a show that used to have images of the WTC that have now been edited out would be more painful and insulting to my sensibilities. It's like the Powers That Be are saying, "Oh, the towers are gone now, so let's make it like they never existed in the first place." What utter bullshit! The World Trade Center towers were modern engineering marvels. I remember studying their innovative (even by today's standards) structural system in architecture school. A structural system, I might add, that functioned exactly as it was designed, mostly collapsing as a "controlled implosion" (rather than falling over) and even then only after the steel structure was weakened by burning jet fuel.
Unlike the Media, who seem hell-bent on eradicating any reference to the WTC except as a rallying cry en route to bombing Afghanistan, I realize that other people may not share my sensibilities. Therefore I applaud the game companies who are "sanitizing" their games -- but only as long as the patches they are distributing are voluntary and limited patches. If the only what I can get my new joystick to work with Flight Simulator is to install the patch that erases the WTC, then I want my money back. But if I can selectively choose to install the WTC-erasing patch or not, then it would seem that all parties are satisfied.
How to handle other appearances of the WTC in popular media is not quite as easy. Things like the Simpsons episode mentioned in the article are indeed matters of some concern. However, I would prefer such episodes be aired, in their unedited entirety, rather than forever banished from public exhibition. This allows the people who either don't mind or don't care (yes, they exist) to watch the episode, while the people who might feel offended or upset can simply choose not to tune in. Of course, this option would require the public to develop some kind of willpower, because we all know how incapable the public is when it comes to self-censorship of what they watch. :-/
Even before the attacks, I had often noticed the WTC towers in popular media; it was hard to miss them towering over the cityscape of New York. Like I mentioned above, they were marvels of engineering, a testament to mankind's desire to leave its mark on the world while reaching up. Now, after the attacks, I continue to take pride in their former existence. There is no shame in recalling their grandeur. The fact that they were destroyed in a horrible terrorist attack seems like fragile justification for eradicating their image from media history. As a future architect, my research often covers buildings that no longer exist, but which held some significance while they did. The WTC towers are no different. Yet their rapid transformation into a taboo subject will not honor their innovative nature, memorialize the people who died, or preserve the importance of both the buildings and the tragic events for future generations. It will only serve to bury their memory, depriving the future of what is certainly a valuable lesson.
Another take on it: simply erasing the WTC from pop media sends the signal that it was not important, because it can be so easily removed and forgotten. How horrible is that?! As I have mentioned above, and as any New Yorker will tell you, the WTC towers have been an indelible feature of New York City since they were built. Now we are expected to simply forget they ever existed? What trite crap!
A lot of people get sad, angry, or both, when images or mention of the WTC and/or the attacks are brought up. There is nothing wrong with this; in fact, I would say that this is a good first step towards recognizing just how much we have been affected. But the next step must not be to bury the memory of the towers as some kind of societal taboo. As any pop psychologist is sure to tell you, supressing bad memories now will only lead to all kinds of bad problems later on as the lingering effects of those memories come back to haunt us.
Using a Macintosh is like picking your nose: everyone likes to do it, but no one will admit to it.