Online auction of killer's art spurs debate

A controversial online art auction of work done by a Massachusetts serial killer has set off a Web debate on free speech rights of prisoners.


Alfred Gaynor's sketch of Jesus Christ kneeling in a desert was one of 300-some pieces of artwork put up for sale Tuesday on a Web site operated by a prisoner advocacy group, according to a Reuters story. That upset family members of Gaynor's victims and led state lawmakers to propose blocking criminals from profiting on what they called "murderabilia," according to the story.

Gaynor is serving four life sentences for sodomizing and choking to death four women. Bloggers have contrasting opinions on the rights he should be afforded.

Blog community response:

"I'm a writer and the family member of a person who was murdered. People guilty and imprisoned for violent crimes lose their right to freedom, and that should include the right or freedom to sell their 'art.' Crime has cost society enough, and it's time the perpetrators of crime were slapped back into the position/understanding that society merely tolerates their presence, hindered and cut-off as it is."
--Inside the Hotdog Factory

"I think every prisoner in the world should have the right to write and draw things and attempt to sell them to make a profit, so long as everyone knows that they are in jail and for what purpose. I don't appreciate the masses being denied the right to buy a prisoners work. Lawmakers are getting too controlling, and this needs to stop. Perhaps they should worry more about themselves than people they don't even know."
--Ito R on CNET's Talkback

"Massachusetts' main problem is that it doesn't have a death penalty (source: If you execute serial killers then you don't have to worry about their speech."
--Michael Williams--Master of None

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Michelle Meyers, associate editor, has been writing and editing CNET News stories since 2005. But she's still working to shed some of her old newspaper ways, first honed when copy was actually cut and pasted. When she's not fixing typos and tightening sentences, she's working with reporters on story ideas, tracking media happenings, or freshening up CNET News' home page.


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