A Point Of Unity

You don’t find many things that unite nearly all Americans – but the death of Charles Manson is one of them.   Other than high school kids trying to get a rise ouf of their elders, not many people – especially those that remember the utterly legitimate fear his “familiy” inflicted for a time in the late sixties – aren’t happy to see this vile chapter in history fade to a halt.

Manson predated me and my consciousness – to me, there’s always been a Charles Manson – but the attempt by “familiy” member “Squeaky” Fromme on President Ford forty-odd years ago was certainly a punctuation mark in my early understanding of the weirdness of the world (and of the US in the seventies, which was a whole ‘nother level of weird).

I did read Helter Skelter, Vincent Bugliosi’s masterpiece on the era, including his prosecution of Manson and his family.  If you’ve never read it, do; it’s not only the best explanation of the era, but one of the best lessons on the anatomy of a prosecution you will ever find.

Of ocurse, for a brief stretch of my life, Manson wasn’t just background; he was an assignment.

Back in 1987, after Don Vogel went to Chicago, I spent some time producing the Geoff Charles show at KSTP-AM.  And Geoff was obsessed with Manson.  One of my ongoing standing assignments; land an interview with Manson.  Didn’t matter how; by phone, in person, on tape; Charles would have flown himself out to San Quentin to put the interview on tape at his own expense, IIRC.

And so I spent the next three months making at least a couple calls a month to the California Department of Corrections.  Me and everyone else, of course; “an interview with Manson” was on pretty much every media person’s wish list at the time, and we may have been one of the smaller potatoes in the bag.  But we were a persistent small potato, at least.


13 thoughts on “A Point Of Unity

  1. Manson wouldn’t make the ISIS JV squad.

    He was top fiend back when Playboy was top pr0n and Nixon was top political scoundrel.

    It’s the current year, friends.

  2. I find it enormously amusing that good atheists are consigning Manson to a Hell that they don’t even believe in.

  3. I was sharing elsewhere that Manson was our first multi-media murderer. The intersection of celebrity and bat-shit macabre, a trial that went on for nearly a year, was a nitro injection to our young electronic media discovering a way to monetize bleeding and leading. There had been other gripping murder stories – Starkweather, Hickock/Perry (the “Cold Blood” killers), DiSalvo (Boston Strangler) – but those stories didn’t have the same technicolor canvas to cement them in our national awareness and long-term memory.

    And, as Mitch said, there was united revulsion and outrage at what he’d done, and not a little soul-searching about how such sickness could exist in a time when virtue didn’t need to be signaled. There might be a few things today where we can find near-universal agreement on evil, but you’d have to think awhile (one man’s “terrorist’ is another’s “freedom-fighter” and “he may be a creep, but he’s our creep”).

    It does call to mind Flannery O’Connor’s great quote: “Whenever I’m asked why Southern writers particularly have a penchant for writing about freaks, I say it is because we are still able to recognize one.”

  4. I read Helter Skelter as a teen. This man was a monster. One of the key components for forgiveness is that the person should seek to be forgiven. Manson never did and in fact said he should have killed more to touch of the race war he thought was in the offing. The world is not a cheaper place with his passing, whatever his positives (and I can’t fathom them), his evils were beyond understanding and manifest.

  5. NW, thank you for turning me on to O’Connor. I knew there were fringe benefits for hanging around here.

  6. Pen: at last, complete agreement.

    I oppose the death penalty on principle; but if California had managed to execute him, I wouldn’t have protested too hard.

  7. The gates of Hell opened for Charlie: Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch’entrate. (Abandon all hope, you who enter here). He’ll be welcomed to his deserved place in the 1st ring of the 7th circle.

    I pray that Governor Moonbeam never allows prison release for any of the rest of the Manson family animals.

  8. What Scott said. And really, those who wonder why citizens vote for “law and order” candidates need to simply consider that the state of California, despite having zero evidence of any contrition on the part of the conspirators of the Manson “family”, has held dozens of parole hearings for them, and dozens of people have idiotically testified on their behalf in these hearings. I would have hoped that a lack of remorse would be an automatic “let’s not go forward with this” in parole discussions, but apparently not.

  9. Manson gave us the first hint to where the amoral debauchery of the left could lead. We didn’t take the hint, and now, it has become normalized.

    Halter Skelter will happen, just a little later and not along the lines Manson envisioned….I think he knew this.

  10. Pingback: In The Mailbox: 11.21.2017 : The Other McCain

  11. Yeah, Mitch, he was one of a few people about whom I think I would have not been too upset if the death penalty had been invalidated a few years later.

  12. I oppose the death penalty for one reason – the inevitability of executing innocent people, sooner or later (and I think Cameron Todd Willingham was definitely one of ’em).

    Manson was not an ambiguous case.

  13. Mitch, I always have shared your concerns over the death penalty. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to exact the ultimate penalty to the ones that commit the most heinous crimes, but I fear that mistakes could be made with no recourse for errors made.

    But for the leftovers of the Manson Family let them rot in jail till their end of days when they can join Charlie in the netherworld. Many of the ones still taking air make claims that they have found God while incarcerated. Likely as not a convenient conversion in their hope for parole.

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