Touring locations where tragic events, murders and suicides occurred is a complex ethical question. It is of paramount importance to consider the morals and ethics of offering this type of tours, as they can easily be seen as exploiting murder victims and their grieving families. It is not easy to balance the need for honoring the memory and legacy of those who were affected by these tragedies with not going overboard with sensationalist “murder porn”. How would Sharon Tate’s family feel about her horrendous autopsy photos circling the internet?
When considering providing tours of locations where tragedies occurred, it is important to accommodate a certain sensitivity that should be shown towards those affected by the events. Providing tours should not be done in a way that exploits or is insensitive to the victims or their families. We must remember that we are talking about real people with real stories of pain and suffering, so any tour should honor their memory and legacy in a respectful way. On the other hand, the tours can be powerful vehicles for keeping the legacies of semi-forgotten, or misunderstood humans–say, the long maligned Black Dahlia–in the public view. Or, as is the goal with our favorite podcast Just the Tip-ster, the tours can keep up focus on unsolved cases that must not recede from consciousness because of a fickle newscycle; say, if a spectacular actress “falls” off of a yacht over 30 years ago.
There is a definitely case to be made against profit maximization if it means good people may inadvertently be hurt. We definitely will not get this balance right each time; however, that only means it is a worthy challenge that must be taken on until we get a solid handle on it.