Sunday 26 November 2017

Why do people applaud mass murderers (sometimes)?

Charles Manson has died in gaol. He was a cult leader who, in 1971, was found guilty of nine first-degree murders including the murder of actress Sharon Tate, murders which were carried out at his instruction by members of his cult.

Paul Berman writes interestingly about Manson here.

"'There were crazy discussions at Flint over whether killing white babies was inherently revolutionary, since all white people are the enemy. Out of this bizarre thinking came Bernardine’s infamous speech praising Charles Manson and his gang’s murder of actress Sharon Tate, her unborn child, and the LaBiancas. “Dig it!” she exclaimed. “First they killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them. They even shoved a fork into the victim’s stomach. Wild!” We instantly adopted as Weather’s salute four fingers held up in the air, invoking the fork left in Sharon Tate’s belly. The message was that we shit on all your conventional values, you murderers of black revolutionaries and Vietnamese babies. There were no limits now to our politics of transgression.'

"So it was not just my hippie neighborhood, back in 1967 for a couple of months—it was my estimable social-democratic student movement, whose leaders were much worse. You may ask: how could these things have happened? But never mind how they happened. They happened. There are members of entirely respectable mosques around the world who are asking the same question right now. How? The point is: these things can happen to anyone. The potential for entire social movements to end up sympathizing with visibly pathological murderers with swastikas carved in their foreheads is a persistent potential. All you have to do is let down, for a brief moment, your simplest sense of right and wrong, perhaps because you pride yourself on being upset about some social issue…."

There was apparently a "neo-Manson cult" in Europe with, among other things, approximately 70 rock bands playing songs by Manson and in support of him. 

How different the (lack of) reaction to Norwegian mass murderer Brevik, who also wanted to start a race war. Comparisons between the two men would make a good piece of cultural history and tell us much about the times in which they carried out their murders.

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