Great American tragedies always seem to spawn great American conspiracy theories. This has proven to be especially true in the case of the 9/11 attacks, which left plenty of video evidence behind. (In the old days, we had just one grainy 8mm film per national calamity, and we liked it.) Now, a group of 9/11 skeptics has produced a movie of its own: a 15-second ad that will run on the TTC’s video screens for the next two weeks.
The clip, embedded above, is the work of ReThink911, a group led by an organization called Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth. ReThink911 believes that World Trade Center building 7, which collapsed along with the Twin Towers, was destroyed by explosives, detonated deliberately by parties unknown. The official version of events is that the structure collapsed because of fire.
The alternative theory is extremely controversial, and a paid advertisement is likely the only context in which it would air in the media unchallenged—which is why the strategy here is both brilliant and a little scary. Similar ads have run in cities around North America, including one in Yonge-Dundas Square last year.
Obviously, the TTC itself has no position on what did or didn’t occur on 9/11. Advertising on subway-platform video screens is handled by an outside contractor, Pattison Onestop, whose job is to sell ad space to practically anyone who wants it. That said, TTC spokesperson Danny Nicholson says the commission did sign off on this advertisement in advance, because its content didn’t violate any policies. It will be reviewed—and possibly removed—if the TTC receives five complaints, but, at the time this post was written, there had been only one.