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The Onion Sparks Anger With Picture Of Plane Flying Into Willis Tower

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The skyscraper formerly known as the Sears Tower. (Credit: Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images)

The skyscraper formerly known as the Sears Tower. (Credit: Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Headline: Sears Extremists Fly Plane Into Willis Tower.

To the satirical newspaper “The Onion”, that’s comedy–the kind their writers have been doing for decades.

However, many people believe any humor about the tragedy of Sept. 11 crosses the line.

The controversy centers on a video on The Onion’s website. It shows a poorly Photoshopped image of an airplane with the Sears logo flying toward the skyscraper.

The building had been named the Sears Tower since it was built in the 1970s until an international insurance company bought the naming rights and changed it to Willis Tower a few years ago. It once was the corporate headquarters for the retail chain.

Many Chicagoans still refer to the tower as Sears Tower.

On the video a narrator says in a deep, anchorman-like voice, “Sears extremists fly a plane into Willis Tower.”

A post on The Onion’s Facebook page generated thousands of comments, both blasting and defending the paper.

“It is still not in good taste to joke about any occasion where thousands of innocents died,” said one post. “We don’t joke about the Holocaust, we don’t even joke about Pearl Harbor…why the heck would you think it’s OK to joke about 9/11?”

A poster defending the piece said: “Is it the responsibility for everyone to wait until the last person is ready to move on? Is it the right of anyone to demand that others deal with a tragedy the way they believe is appropriate? Frankly, I think it is a bit selfish to lash out because you think it’s too soon to make a joke about something that happened more than a decade ago.”

The Onion marketing director Grant Jones told the Associated Press that the video snippet was “a very important story. We’re surprised other major news sources are not giving it the coverage it deserves.”

What do you think? Let us know in the comments section below.

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