The auction site eBay has announced that it will remove any Jeffrey Dahmer costumes listed for sale, citing a policy against items associated with violent criminals. The Dahmer masks and clothes were poised to become a trend among Halloween revelers this year following Ryan Murphy’s hit Netflix series about the notorious serial killer, Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story.

But the rule eBay referenced is quite broad, and a vast amount of merchandise currently available for bidding may violate it. The guideline states: “We prohibit listings that promote or glorify violence or violent acts, or are associated with individuals who are notorious for committing violent acts.”

While Dahmer, who murdered 17 men and boys between 1978 and 1991, may be a subject of particular fascination at present, the market for macabre collectibles associated with other killers is always active. On eBay right now, you can shop for replicas of paintings by John Wayne Gacy (at least 33 victims, also young men and boys), a trading card of a blood-spattered David Berkowitz (better known as the “Son of Sam,” responsible for killing six and wounding 11), and action figures of Charles Manson, infamous leader of the California cult that carried out nine brutal slayings in the summer of 1969.

Where it comes to costumes, more historically distant boogeymen are still fair game: dozens of Jack the Ripper costumes are on offer because, as an eBay spokesperson told BuzzFeed News, the rule against glorifying or promoting violence only covers crimes committed in the past 100 years.

Yet, for some reason, you can buy a commemorative wristwatch of practically any well-known 20th-century murderer, whether they were caught and identified or not. Ted Bundy and the Zodiac Killer timepieces are just two of many examples.

Rolling Stone contacted eBay to ask whether these items violate the same rule the Jeffrey Dahmer costumes did, and, if so, where the company draws the line on serial killer paraphernalia. In reply, an eBay representative writes: “Items related to these individuals, and other criminals, that are covered by the ‘Violence and Violent Criminals Policy’ are prohibited on eBay and will be removed.”

At least some listings — like books or documentaries about these people — have a stronger claim to legitimacy as research material. It’s less clear whether a letter written by Dennis Rader, the BTK Killer, is suitable to be auctioned for “historical value,” as the seller claims.

Suddenly, a mask of Dahmer as portrayed by actor Evan Peters in Monster looks like the tip of the iceberg. There’s a bustling business in gruesome true crime mementos on eBay, and stronger enforcement of the policy that forbids this would require a massive cleanup. With families of Dahmer’s victims blasting the Netflix show for exploiting their pain and creating a legion of thirsty fans, maybe it’s easier to handle the most flagrant offense and ignore the rest.


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