News & Politics

Should We Ban the Sale of 'Murderabilia'?

Andy Kahan has a problem. In particular, he has a problem with people who cash in on a murderer’s infamy for profit. Frankly, I can’t say that I blame him: profiting from a horrible crime just feels disturbing to me and millions of other Americans.

Where Kahan lost me, however, is when he decided to try and push for federal regulations preventing anyone from profiting in such instances:

But if that got his blood boiling, he should see the duffle bag full of murderabilia at Andy Kahan’s house in suburban Houston. Kahan, employed as a victim advocate in the Houston Mayor’s Crime Victims Office, has collected the items for years as evidence of the industry he would like to shut down. He’s used the items in multiple presentations to lawmakers over the past dozen years in an attempt to get legislation that would stop the sale of the items.

Locks of Charles Manson’s hair, screenplays by the perpetrator of the Virginia Tech Massacre, jail correspondence from Richard Ramirez the Los Angeles serial killer known as the Night Stalker — his letterhead is a line of skulls and crossbones.

“And from a victim’s perspective there’s nothing more nauseating and disgusting when you find out the person who murdered one of your loved ones now has items being hawked by third parties for pure profit,” said Kahan. “It’s like being gutted all over again by our criminal justice system.”

So, later this year, with the help of Texas lawmakers, Kahan hopes to introduce federal legislation to make profiting from the sudden infamy of a murderer illegal. It’s called the Federal Anti-Murderabilia Crime Victim Dignity Act.

“You know from my perspective, no one should be able to rob, rape, and murder and then turn around and make a buck off of it. I am a firm believer in free enterprise and capitalism, but I think you have to draw the line somewhere, and from a victim’s perspective, this is where the buck has to stop,” Kahan said.

Don’t you just love it when someone says: “I am a firm believer in free enterprise and capitalism”? It often means that they’re about to tell you they’re not.

The issue isn’t murderers profiting from their crimes, a matter few would take issue with, but with anyone being restricted from selling something that people want to pay for that would otherwise be perfectly legal. When you decide to step in and prevent that transaction from taking place legally, you’re saying liberty be damned.

Additionally, it’s unlikely a law would actually end the practice; rather, it would just drive it underground and a black market would pop up. People are going to want what they want. After all, how well did Prohibition work? What about laws banning drugs and prostitution?

Yeah. Thought so.

Like I said before, I think “murderabilia” is disgusting. What on Earth would make someone want to pay good money for something just because it belonged to someone who took a human life? I honestly can’t see any reason why any sane person would want to do something like that.

Unfortunately, that’s the thing about freedom. It means that people are able to do stuff that you find disgusting. No one needs to protect the popular acts. Those aren’t in danger any time soon, and for a reason. It’s the disturbing and uncomfortable that needs protection from do-gooders who haven’t thought about how their desire to make the world a better place for themselves actually takes away liberty for everyone.

If I allow Kahan’s proposal to become law without a fight because I find the practice it seeks to limit “disgusting,” then how long before someone bans an activity I engage in that they find disgusting?

Like hunting?

Perhaps Kahan, if he really does believe in free enterprise, would do better to campaign against these kinds of things by making it unpalatable to purchase them, rather than preventing it by law. Then, it would really kill the trade in such things, and he’d have my full support.

As it stands now, however, I don’t think any supporter of liberty should side with him.