Today there are many art auction sites where people can legally purchase art pieces for their collections. However, what if the artists of these pieces are serial killers? A man from central California named William Harder not only has a large art collection of items from killers such as Charles Manson, but is selling the pieces on his website, Murderauction.com. These art pieces are in the category of “murderabilia” which are collectibles related to murderers. Although the selling and purchasing of these artworks is technically legal, is it moral? Murderabilia is very controversial due to the emotional harm it inflicts on victims’ families and the profits that serial killers can potentially receive from the items. The question is whether this type of auction site should be legal due to its glorification of murderers and the horrific crimes they commit. William Harder travels all over the country to visit serial killers and acquire pieces for his collection. Not only does he visit them to collect but he also has formed bonds with these criminals. They often send him art pieces and letters to his home from their jail cells. He has everything from signed autographs by Charles Manson to a tooth from killer-cannibal Issei Sagawa. Harder seems to think that these murderers have changed over the years and are not as bad as they are portrayed. He says, “Many of them expressed genuine remorse. A lot of them have never had a friend in the world, and I’ve found a little niche where I can be someone’s friend who’s never really had one.” This comes off as very strange to most people and suspect that Harder himself is involved in murder plots with some of these killers. Crime investigators became suspicious of him because of his connection with these criminals and have kept tabs on him as well. However, Harder claims that he does not condone violence or crime. Whether or not this is true, his auction site strikes a nerve with many people, especially the families of victims. These family members of the killers’ victims have a huge issue with what Harder is doing and say that he is crossing a line. Despite the effects it has on them, however, the government has not made Harder take it down, as it is legal to freely sell artwork as long as it is not counterfeited.
The biggest issue with selling Murderabilia is the fact that not only are the sellers profiting from someone’s murder but the killers themselves are potentially profiting too from their jail cells. Officials accused Harder of helping inmates profit from their crimes and sending them money, which is illegal. Harder did admit to sending some money to the killers in prison, however, he denies that it was from the murderabilia. Regardless, it looks very suspicious, as he seems to have an undying connection to the murderers. While our country grants us the freedom to sell art online, there are certain types of art that should be illegal to sell due to the harm it inflicts in people. In this case, Harder’s auction site is doing much more harm to society than good.
The aspect of legality and its relation to morality comes into play with the selling of murderabilia. Nobody should be allowed to profit off of someone’s murder, no matter if it is art or not. There are exceptions to all laws. In this case, many believe the exception to the law permitting the selling of art is selling any art that was created by murderers. Although selling this material is legal, it is not ethical and could potentially be dangerous to society. The banning of selling this art would protect the families of the victims and prevent any glorification of the killers that comes with the art. The people who are purchasing the items that Harder sells could be potentially dangerous imminent criminals themselves. Collecting items from killers could just be adding fuel to the fire. While Harder should be allowed to collect anything he wants (despite how strange and suspicious it may be) he should not be allowed to distribute his items and make a profit off of them. It is essentially “dirty money” and is morally wrong. He, however, disagrees with this as he thinks that banning his website is an infringement on his rights: “We are a capitalist society,” Harder said. “To tell me I can’t sell something that I’ve collected is about as un-American as it gets. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it.” While he stands for capitalism and freedom to sell whatever you wish, he does not demonstrate any sympathy for the victims’ families and how this art could affect them.
Suspicions of Harder and his intentions are growing even further with the discovery of a website he is working on which allows “true crime enthusiasts can post without feeling like they’re being judged.” He is once again supporting crime, in a way, by creating a place free of judgment in which people can freely discuss gruesome crimes such as murder. This could be all harmless, however, it opens up a door where criminals can plot together. Once again, while we have freedom of speech, these kinds of websites, along with Harder’s auction site should be monitored to ensure that they are not aiding criminals or allowing murderers to profit from the crimes they committed.
Murderauction.com is allowed to exist on the Internet due to our rights. However, with our laws come exceptions. The serial murderers that created these art pieces are ultimately getting paid out by Harder, despite what he says about why he sends the money. By sending money for what he claims is “to help them get food or necessities in prison,” he is getting around the law. Due to the dangers and immorality that his actions present, his websites need to be closely watched and the authorities need to also monitor or ban the money he sends into the prisons. Ultimately, the selling of murderabilia is a crime in which Harder and many serial killers are profiting off of people who lost their lives.