Jack the Ripper museum debate: historical interest or morbid appeal?

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Jack the Ripper Museum main entrance (12 Cable St, Whitechapel, London)

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Typical Victorian room with exhibits (Jack the Ripper Museum)

IN FAVOR: HISTORICAL INTEREST

Who doesn’t like a bit of fun and excitement? A museum dedicated to a serial killer? Why not? It sounds like fun, but is it? Is it only created to amuse us? Or is there anything else it wants to make us understand? There are billions of questions that we can ask about that topic. A museum dedicated to a famous murderer doesn’t sound like a bad idea, but is it ethical? There are several pros and cons about it.

The main goal a museum such as this has is to honour the victims’ memories so society doesn’t forget them. If their stories weren’t told or seen, then we would forget them quickly, as they’re not an important part of our lives. That’s why their story must be told -and seen-, that way society will be aware of what really happened. Furthermore, they wouldn’t see the murderer as just another character but as the awful person he really was, as someone who killed and destroyed lives just for fun. That way, we could see how it happened and what the consequences were, and we would be aware of the misery he brought with him. And for that, the museum needs to show things as they happened, neither to embellish history nor to make it more macabre. They must show it as it really was, so visitors will be shocked and the message can be correctly told.

On the other hand, it can also become a dangerous idea. If what was supposed to be honorable at first turns to be a mere amusement, then the message it should transmit isn’t. People would not see the museum as a representation of the victims’ story but as something fun to do and from which we wouldn’t learn any lesson. That’s why it has to be shocking and real. Besides, the story can be told from the wrong point of view -like a sexist one- so the museum -instead of honouring the victims’ memory- would blame them for what happened to them, and the lesson it would teach wouldn’t be the right one, and thus the museum should be closed.

We can conclude that having a museum dedicated to a famous murderer isn’t a bad idea. In fact it should be done, as long as its goal is to honour the victims’ memory and make people aware of what happened so they wouldn’t see it as just another story. But it’s necessary that the story it tells is shown as it really happened to be unforgettable. If it’s just made to amuse people, or it’s told from a sexist point of view, then it shouldn’t be done.

Mireia B.

Lots of people in Cable Street have criticized the opening of a museum dedicated to women that turned into a horror house. The museum is now dedicated to a serial killer called Jack the Ripper, but the creators said that it is focused on the victim´ perspective. This looks crazy and irresponsible, but is it really like this?

From the beginnings of history, there have been lots of people who committed crimes and brought to the world bad memories, from serial killers to tyrannical rulers who started wars. All of these people are remembered despite the bad things they did, so why can´t a bunch of people make a museum for one of them? It´s part of history and it´s there, we can´t change the past but we can learn about it. The people who really don´t want or like the museum, just have to avoid it or not visit it, it is only a reconstruction of the scenes and it´s very interesting to know how Jack the Ripper killed his victims and how he escaped from the police

From the perspective of the murderer or from the victims it doesn´t matter, the important question is if you like it or not. There are lots of tourists who will visit the museum for curiosity or for fun, whether the East End citizens like it or not, as it provides part of the Victorian era culture.

Johnny S.

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AGAINST: MORBID APPEAL

Imagine being a mother or a father whose daughter has been brutally murdered by an assassin who killed other women. Imagine if all of a sudden after you finally learned how to live a normal life without her, a museum is opened to glorify the killer of your daughter and publish pictures of her corpse. That would make you revive your daughter’s death, seeing how people spend their money on seeing her dead. This situation is one that many parents could suffer is museums about killers started to open all around the world. We should not permit that because it is disrespectful, it gives these crimes an attention they should not have and it can encourage other people to do the same.

First of all, a museum like this is very disrespectful to the victims because -despite being dead- should still be treated like humans, and to the families that already had enough with losing a member of their family and don´t need a constant reminder that a mentally disturbed person killed their beloved one.

In the second place, even though this is a very intelligent way of teaching the world how the mind of a person that goes that far with another person’s body works, or at least to try to understand it -which I think no one can-, it gives the assassin more power and more attention than the one he should have. He should be in prison and his attack classified, not in a museum where people spend their money.

Another important aspect is that people who suffer from mental disorders similar to the ones assassins can have, could be motivated or encouraged to do something like that. They could see the pictures and admire them instead of being horrified, or they may think that, because of that museum, that murderer is famous and they want the same thing, fame by being the killer of a huge number of people.

To conclude, museums like the one dedicated to Jack the Ripper should not be permitted and should not exist because they degrade the victims and are a celebration of those horrible acts. Neither you nor anyone wants to be that parent whose dead daughter’s pictures are being displayed for everyone to see.

Marta N.

Jack the Ripper is a well-known London character that committed several murders in the Victorian Era. That´s why they have done a museum, which in my opinion should be closed.

First of all, I find it sexist, because it shows women as victims of a man. Portraying these women as an entertainment and not as a problem to solve leave aside the gravity of the situation. Moreover, the museum exposes lots of gory details, which could shock some of the visitors. For instance, there are pictures of the women mutilated by Jack the Ripper.

However, the owners of the museum stated that it´s done to show history, but it´s just a way of attracting tourists and make money.

In light of the above, this museum doesn´t have any historical interest for Londoners. From my point of view, it just has a morbid and economic interest, which keeps showing women as the weak gender.

Silvia S.

Technology: freedom, privacy and security

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We live in a world in which technology is an essential part of our lives; we practically live with our phones with us 24/7 and probably couldn’t get along without the use of Google Maps. This being said, where should the boundaries between freedom, security and privacy be in regards to technology?

To start, we should focus on freedom: freedom is a basic human right and many believe it shouldn´t be restricted. This is of course true; freedom should prevail over anything and everything. We don’t want to end in a dystopian society where everything is monitored and punished like in Orwell´s 1984, in which the government made sure everyone was safe and yet so very controlled and restricted.

What about privacy? You may be asking yourself privacy is a more complicated issue since opinions on the use and regulation on user information are very strong. But if thought rationally, one can determine that people should be monitored to keep people safe. Yet, this surveillance ought to be kept public, since accustoming the citizens to realizing the importance of surveillance is key to keeping a society safe. Some may argue that this affects our freedom and privacy, but it doesn´t -the general public’s private life is only regulated by the government (an entity that is supposed to be benevolent) and not individuals with ill intent.

This being said, after reviewing freedom and privacy, where does security fall into this equation? Well, security is naturally essential to a functioning society. For this matter, a good idea is not government surveillance, for example shutting down websites, but rather educating society to teach themselves how to face potential risks. You don´t isolate a society because there´s a disease, rather you make a vaccine and therefore teach individuals to fight it.

Taking into consideration the information stated earlier, we can conclude that the boundaries between freedom, privacy and security in regards to technology ought to be the following: freedom should prevail, while education in relation to privacy and security must be implemented.

Gabriel D. A.

The dangers of nuclear energy

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Exterior of the Graphite Reactor at the X-10 site in Oak Ridge in 1950 (Tennessee, USA)

Obtaining energy and heat from a nuclear reactor is something that has been occurring since September 1948, when electricity was generated in a nuclear power station for the first time in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Back then they just wanted to power a light bulb, but nowadays this energy is used for industry, mining, farming or medicine. However, this way of producing energy is very dangerous.

Building a nuclear power plant is very expensive and also risky for both the environment and humans because it can cause a catastrophe -like the one in Chernobyl in 1986. Its waste can be very harmful, especially when it comes to radiation. This kind of energy is non-renewable and there are better energy sources. In addition, nuclear waste can be used for terrorist attacks.

In conclusion, I don’t think running nuclear power plants is the best way to get energy, due to the endless list of disadvantages. Nevertheless, nuclear energy along with some other energy sources will play an important role in the following years, that’s for sure.

Lucía M. D.

My worst nightmare

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The Nightmare (Henry Fuseli, 1781)

What if when we die we reincarnate in another person or even an animal? What if our soul can’t leave this world and stays and torments the living? What happens after we die? In different cultures and religions there are a variety of superstitions or beliefs about what happens after life. I’m personally terrified about even thinking of death and its consequences.

First of all, the ignorance of every single human being on the planet about what’s going to happen after your death gives me anxiety, Not even one person acknowledges what can occur after your body, brain, heart and organs stop working. There are many ideas about the afterlife such as going to heaven, reincarnation, or becoming a ghost, which I’m not very comfortable with.

Secondly, I am terrified by the thought that everything that surrounds me at this moment -everything that I have been knowing all my life- can disappear in a matter of seconds -not for everybody but for me- and being left alone with whatever my soul will have to overcome.

My greatest fear is -and will always be- death and the afterlife. You don’t know what’s going to happen, so the bottom line is that what actually scares me is uncertainty.

Marta N.

Do you believe?

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Scene from Macbeth, depicting the witches’ conjuring of an apparition in Act IV, Scene I (William Rimmer, 1816-1879)

The belief in the supernatural has been around for a long time. I personally don’t believe in ghosts, or in witches with deep black cauldrons making potions with lizard tails, spider eyes and rabbit legs, but I still think it’s a very interesting world to think about.

When I was a child, I used to believe in all of those mysterious and creepy elements, but now that I have grown up I think that believing in them is such a waste of time, because no one has real proof that ghosts, ectoplasms, vampires and bad luck after breaking a mirror are real. Even so, I’m still careful with what I do, just in case a ghost decides to haunt me for the rest of my life because I insulted it via “ouija”.

On the other hand, people who believe in supernatural elements may have their life a little bit out of control, because if you let karma or “good luck” do or not do this or that and decide what is going to be your next step, you might be trapped inside yourself because of the damn belief that brings bad luck for seven years.

All in all, superstitions and the supernatural world have caught my attention since the very beginning of my contact with them, and they have been present in my life in one way or another.

Arnau P.

FOTOGRAFÍA FILOSÓFICA

FOTOGRAFÍA FILOSÓFICA: ¿Qué es realidad?

El proyecto “Fotografía filosófica” trata de conseguir una aplicación práctica de los conceptos trabajados hasta el momento, dando lugar a una reflexión acerca de temas como el conocimiento o la realidad, siendo esta última la principal protagonista de la exposición. El objetivo de este trabajo ha sido reflejar estos conceptos por medio de fotografías acompañadas de preguntas filosóficas. Relacionamos así el mundo de la imagen con las preguntas que suscita el concepto de realidad, tema fundamental de la filosofía desde sus orígenes.

Los alumnos de 1º de bachillerato.