Despite his claims of immortality, arch-criminal and cult leader Charles Manson died today at the age of 83 after an unspecified illness. Manson was sentenced to the gas chamber in 1971, but California Liberals repealed the Death Penalty before justice could be carried out. He stayed in prison, though, where he became something of a celebrity. (Readers would actually have to have lived in California to make sense of that, but it's true.)
Manson and his cult murdered Hollywood starlet and model Sharon Tate.
Sharon had recently married and was 8 months pregnant at the time of the murder. In the days before murdering unborn babies was renamed A Woman's Right to Choose by the same Liberals who spared Manson's life; this atrocity counted as a double-murder. Four other people who were visiting Sharon at the time were stabbed to death as well.
The Cult then murdered Mr. and Mrs. Leno LaBianca, a socially prominent family of Beverley Hills. Manson's followers planted false evidence at both killings to implicate the Black Panthers. His purported goal was to start a race war and rule America in the aftermath as king. The supposedly racist LAPD, however, refused to take the bait and implicated Manson instead. Since then, the Manson Family rose to the apex of America's then-nascent Trash Culture: their exploits generating dozens of books and films.
David Wilson of Birmingham City University in England---one of the world's leading criminologists---believes that Manson's ongoing cult appeal relates to the fact that his career and crimes exposes vulnerabilities in American culture. We noted the same in relation to American obsession with Lee Harvey Oswald and other presidential assassins. The fact that a complete loser from the bottom of dregs can strike at any moment against our social elites is very unsettling to many of us. Like Oswald, Manson was the polar opposite of those he attacked (note the similarity, the traitor Oswald kills the war-hero Kennedy; Manson the social outcast targeted a glamorous and well-liked celebrity).
Wilson, along with Manson's prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, also speak of Manson's personal charisma. The reality though is that men like Manson become a symbolic figure for disaffected and disillusioned people. Hitler was probably the most prominent historical personage of this type; and Manson was admirer of the Nazi Fuehrer. These types are people who rise from social obscurity to wreak incredible acts of destruction on the existing social order and thus gain notoriety. This really explains most of their so-called 'charisma'.
To such admirers of Manson one can best recall Bugliosi's parting words to him after the death sentence had been pronounced. Manson began boasting that he almost succeeded in his insane plan to rule America. Bugliosi replied: "No, Manson. You never even came close. You took a bunch of sad kids and played your prison-games with their minds. You're not even important anymore."
True enough: Manson has only been as important as people have made him ever since. In 1974, one of his disciples attempted to assassinate President Ford, but since then his cult has died out and become nothing but a Cult of Personality among society's bottom-feeders. With Manson's death, hopefully that will die out too.