Tusinski: Let the dead rest — don’t use them for profit

Dylan Tusinski

footprints in snow along pathway next to building
Ammons Hall, where the University Welcome Center and Office of Admissions are located, is claimed by some to be the most haunted building on campus Oct. 30, 2020. (Anna von Pechmann | The Collegian)

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

Over the summer, I was working the front desk at a hotel on the south side of Fort Collins. One afternoon, a well-dressed woman came in through the front doors.

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She didn’t need a room but wanted to drop off a stack of business cards advertising a business she helped run — Fort Collins Tours. She elaborated that it was a company that offers year-round ghost tours in and around Old Town Fort Collins and that they were trying to advertise themselves a little heavier.

I let her sit the cards on the counter, and by the next day, they were all gone. Guests who were passing through the lobby had grabbed them all and had presumably booked their own “ghost tours.” It got me thinking about the entire concept of a ghost tour and by extension, the market that has grown around the idea of profiting off ghosts.

Is it really morally acceptable to profit off of the near-eternal spiritual torment through which ghosts are suffering?”

It made me realize that not only does that market exist but it’s pretty popular. It also got me thinking about how unethical the entire thing is.

The entire notion of post-mortem capitalism just reeks of poor taste to me. The fact that there’s an entire subgenre of capitalism dedicated to creating ghost tours, tourist traps and kitschy experiences seeking to profit off the potential existence of otherworldly spirits just bugs me.

It’s important to remember what ghosts actually are — lost souls. According to Merriam-Webster, a ghost is “the soul of a dead person believed to be an inhabitant of the unseen world.” Their existence on our plane is a sort of torture, which they must endure until their spirits rise to heaven or descend to hell. Is it really morally acceptable to profit off of the near-eternal spiritual torment through which ghosts are suffering?

Whether you believe in ghosts or not, their intrigue is unmistakable and nearly universal.”

If you ask people about ghost tours or even just ghosts as a whole, they tend to say the same thing — it’s just for fun. They say that people just go on these tours to have fun and get spooked while doing so, not to have real paranormal experiences. While that’s probably true for most of the people going on these tours, it’s probably untrue for the people running them.

Think about it. The people running ghost tours believe one of two things: They fully believe that there are ghosts in whatever area their tour is operating in — or they know there are enough people who do believe in ghosts that you can create a profitable business marketing to them.

No matter which of the two they believe in, the fact of the matter is that they’re knowingly exploring the spirits of the dead, or at least the belief in those spirits, in order to turn a profit. That’s a pretty immoral business model.

I want to clarify that I’m not shaming people for being interested in ghosts. I love a good ghost story as much as anybody else. Their enigmatic nature and the fact that they can’t be definitively proven or disproven give them an allure that most other Halloween traditions and stories don’t. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, their intrigue is unmistakable and nearly universal.

What I am saying, though, is that using lost souls to make money isn’t an ethical way to make or spend money. Ghost tours and every other “paranormal” experience inherently exploit the spirits of the dead — or at least their allure — in order to stay afloat. It’s a crappy and unethical business practice that needs to end now.

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Dylan Tusinski can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @unwashedtiedye.