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.
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!