Profiting from Chapman’s letters is wrong

Danny Cozzi

Imagine writing someone a series of letters that would one day be worth $75,000.

Well, according to an article by Adam Reiss and Dana Ford of CNN, it’s already happened. Mark David Chapman, notorious for killing former Beatle John Lennon, wrote four letters in 1983 to Stephen Spiro, the now retired police officer who arrested Chapman on Dec. 8, 1980.

According to CNN, Spiro had traded letters with Chapman over a few months beginning in January 1983 until May of the same year. Now, 30 years later, Spiro has decided to sell the letters with the help of Moments in Time, a website that sells famous autographs and historical documents. The letters are said to be listed at a whopping $75,000.

Imagine that.

Well, I tried. However, I couldn’t come to a justifiable reason to sell letters from a killer for such a gigantic sum of money. I imagined how people would react if the letters were from someone who killed an everyday person instead of a world-famous musician. It just made me uncomfortable to see the only reason these letters are worth so much money is because they directly relate to Lennon’s murder.

Junior painting major Lauren McKee doesn’t that it’s right for Spiro to profit from the letters.

“He’s a police officer who’s profiting off of the death of murder,” McKee said. “It shouldn’t matter that John Lennon is famous or not.”

I can’t help but to agree with that. Although CNN reported that Spiro plans to donate some of the money he earns to a battered women’s shelter, I don’t really condone the idea of selling the rants of a psychotic madman. Hell, one of Chapman’s letters even inquires about Spiro’s family: “You mentioned your family. Tell me about your children. How about a photo, too?”

There’s something out of place about looking at these letters and seeing money signs.

Bobby Truong, freshman music education major, also believes selling the letters is wrong.

“Just give them to the people who want them for historical purposes,” Truong said. “Why does there always have to be a payout?”

I suppose the only benefit of selling the letters would be getting the history out of a box and into the world, but Truong is right. Why would anyone need money for them?

If it were me, I like to think I would simply donate the letters to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland rather than take a cut of their monetary value. You can argue history all you want, but in the end, the letters are famous only because of who they relate to.

Had Chapman killed someone who worked in a simple office building, his letters would have been little more than a footnote in a case file for further review. By selling these letters at such a high price, people are giving fame to the ramblings of a murderer.

I mean, seriously–who do I have to kill to get my columns worth that much?