Readability

Manson and Me

As a first-​year stu­dent at the Uni­ver­sity of San Fran­cisco, I arrived just days after Man­son and his evil crew had mur­dered seven peo­ple. I still remem­ber the fright­en­ing pho­to­graph of Man­son on the front page of The San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle that arrived out­side my dorm room.

At the time, Cal­i­for­nia was in a high state of anx­i­ety and fear. The bru­tal mur­ders had scared almost everyone.

Man­son and his fol­low­ers had spent time near USF, which is located just a few blocks from Haight-​Ashbury, where the 1967 “Sum­mer of Love” occurred.

Hip­pies arrived from through­out the coun­try to cre­ate a com­mu­nity based on ill-​conceived ideas, drugs, and music. Dur­ing 1967, psy­che­delic music entered the main­stream. Scott McKenzie’s song “San Fran­cisco (Be Sure to Wear Flow­ers in Your Hair),” became a hit that year. The Mon­terey Pop Fes­ti­val in June fur­ther cemented the sta­tus of psy­che­delic music as a part of main­stream cul­ture and ele­vated local Haight bands, such as the Grate­ful Dead, Big Brother and the Hold­ing Com­pany, and Jef­fer­son Air­plane to stardom.

The neigh­bor­hood also attracted Man­son, a long­time loser who was in and out of prison.

By the time I got to San Fran­cisco only two years later, Haight had become a crime-​ridden and heroin-​infested place where only those who sought dan­ger and hard­core drugs dared to visit. It’s also where Man­son had col­lected a crew of fel­low losers bent on evil.

As The New York Times noted: “To a fright­ened, mes­mer­ized pub­lic, the mur­ders, with their under­cur­rents of sex, drugs, rock ’n’ roll and Satanism, seemed the depraved log­i­cal exten­sion of the anti-​establishment, do-​your-​own-​thing ethos that helped define the ’60s.”

Let’s face it. The hip­pie cul­ture — in which I was once a will­ing par­tic­i­pant — pro­vided the basis for many of society’s ills both then and now, from drug use to sex­ual deviancy.

Less than a decade later I reported about the deaths of 900 peo­ple in Guyana at hands of Jim Jones, another depraved leader who emerged from the same pri­mor­dial ooze of San Francisco.

Like much of today’s media try to explain “motives” for mass mur­der­ers, many news orga­ni­za­tions ana­lyzed Manson’s actions as the result of an abu­sive child­hood and a men­tal disorder.

In a neck-​snapping analy­sis of Manson’s “human” side, The Los Ange­les Times’ David Ulin argues: “For those who have faith in an after­life, I sup­pose there’s some solace in imag­in­ing he will get his karmic come­up­pance. But it makes more sense to me to see him as an agent of the hells we cre­ate on Earth.

Man­son was a killer, yes, and he was a psy­chopath, but he was never oth­er­worldly. The vio­lence and the hatred he embod­ied may be his most human attribute.”

It’s hard to untan­gle the log­i­cal fal­lac­ies in those two paragraphs.

But there’s more. Newsweek had this head­line: How Mur­derer Charles Man­son and Don­ald Trump Used Lan­guage to Gain Followers.

Seri­ously?

There’s a far bet­ter expla­na­tion for Man­son. He was the embod­i­ment of evil with­out any motive other than his desire to con­trol peo­ple and to kill oth­ers. Unfor­tu­nately, he got more than 15 min­utes of fame.

Through­out his years in prison, Man­son denied hav­ing ordered the mur­ders. Nei­ther did he feel remorse about the killings as he said dur­ing an inter­view with Char­lie Rose.

So you didn’t care?” Rose asked.

Care?” Man­son replied. “What the hell does that mean, ‘care’?”

May he rot in hell!

As a first-year student at the University of San Francisco, I arrived just days after Manson and his evil crew had murdered seven people. I still remember the frightening photograph of Manson on the front page of The San Francisco Chronicle that arrived outside my dorm room.

At the time, California was in a high state of anxiety and fear. The brutal murders had scared almost everyone.

Manson and his followers had spent time near USF, which is located just a few blocks from Haight-Ashbury, where the 1967 “Summer of Love” occurred.

Hippies arrived from throughout the country to create a community based on ill-conceived ideas, drugs, and music. During 1967, psychedelic music entered the mainstream. Scott McKenzie’s song “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair),” became a hit that year. The Monterey Pop Festival in June further cemented the status of psychedelic music as a part of mainstream culture and elevated local Haight bands, such as the Grateful Dead, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and Jefferson Airplane to stardom.

The neighborhood also attracted Manson, a longtime loser who was in and out of prison.

By the time I got to San Francisco only two years later, Haight had become a crime-ridden and heroin-infested place where only those who sought danger and hardcore drugs dared to visit. It’s also where Manson had collected a crew of fellow losers bent on evil.

As The New York Times noted: “To a frightened, mesmerized public, the murders, with their undercurrents of sex, drugs, rock ’n’ roll and Satanism, seemed the depraved logical extension of the anti-establishment, do-your-own-thing ethos that helped define the ’60s.”

Let’s face it. The hippie culture—in which I was once a willing participant—provided the basis for many of society’s ills both then and now, from drug use to sexual deviancy.

Less than a decade later I reported about the deaths of 900 people in Guyana at hands of Jim Jones, another depraved leader who emerged from the same primordial ooze of San Francisco.

Like much of today’s media try to explain “motives” for mass murderers, many news organizations analyzed Manson’s actions as the result of an abusive childhood and a mental disorder.

In a neck-snapping analysis of Manson’s “human” side, The Los Angeles Times’ David Ulin argues: “For those who have faith in an afterlife, I suppose there’s some solace in imagining he will get his karmic comeuppance. But it makes more sense to me to see him as an agent of the hells we create on Earth.

“Manson was a killer, yes, and he was a psychopath, but he was never otherworldly. The violence and the hatred he embodied may be his most human attribute.”

It’s hard to untangle the logical fallacies in those two paragraphs.

But there’s more. Newsweek had this headline: How Murderer Charles Manson and Donald Trump Used Language to Gain Followers.

Seriously?

There’s a far better explanation for Manson. He was the embodiment of evil without any motive other than his desire to control people and to kill others. Unfortunately, he got more than 15 minutes of fame.

Throughout his years in prison, Manson denied having ordered the murders. Neither did he feel remorse about the killings as he said during an interview with Charlie Rose.

“So you didn’t care?” Rose asked.

“Care?” Manson replied. “What the hell does that mean, ‘care’?”

May he rot in hell!