Two of the West Memphis Three Being Released

http://www.wreg.com/news/wreg-west-memphis-3-freed,0,5347577.story

I don’t know a whole lot about the details of this story, but from what I gather it is extremely odd. The West Memphis Three were a group of teenagers that were convicted for the brutal murders of three children. Throughout and after the trial there was a heavy chunk of information suggesting that the WM3 were wrongfully accussed of the murders, even celebrity led campaigns have been made from the likes of Johnny Depp and several others over the years. I myself am convinced that there was not enough evidence to convict any of them of the crimes (not necessarily innocent, but not guilty either). Okay, so now the odd thing is that apparently two of the men will be released if they admit to guilt. Whether you think they are guilty, not guilty, or innocent, this makes no sense. Anybody else have any thoughts on this matter?

P.S. check out a great documentary on the WM3 entitled Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (1996).

Charles Manson: An American Superstar

Charles Manson: An American Superstar

He is a beloved recording artist, his image has been plastered everywhere from tee shirts to tattoos, and he has legions of devoted fans. No, not Bob Dylan, this 60s icon spent his entire youth in and out of prison. His name is Charles Manson, a name practically synonymous with mass murder. Manson and his followers, known as “The Family” were convicted of the Tate-LaBianca murders in 1971. In spite of or because of this, he has been given celebrity status as if he was a movie star or baseball player. His infamy is eerily commonplace in various areas of our pop culture. One can turn on the TV and catch his character portrayed in such comedy shows as “South Park” or “Family Guy.” In fact, it was through an episode of “South Park” where I attribute my earliest memory of Manson. I remember watching a SP Christmas special as a child in which Manson appeared as a character with redeeming qualities. Even though it was satire, at the tender age of nine my brain was already invited into the world of one of America’s most feared individuals. Ever since then, his name kept coming up over and over again; I knew he was associated with murder, but even at a young age, I thought of him as another famous name from my parents’ time period. Most people seem to be intrigued by the man and in the American media, Charles Manson has been glamorized to the degree of a superstar. For the television viewing public he has become an object of personal entertainment; just another fascinating celebrity in the league of Michael Jackson and O.J. Simpson.
To begin to understand how or why this character of Charles Manson is so fascinating to the media and the American public as whole, we must start with a look at his childhood. Charles Manson was born on November 12, 1934 in Cincinnati, Ohio. His mother was a sixteen year old prostitute that spent some time in prison when he was a child and he never really knew his father. Unlike most Americans, Manson did not live in a comfortable house on a safe street with at least one, if not two loving parents/guardians and all the other things we associate with typical upbringings. Manson by his own claims and he would claim this over and over again, lived on the streets. He did not know the world of the average American. At an early age it was reinforced that he was different from the rest of America. He was essentially abandoned by the very people whom should have loved him and spent the rest of his childhood years from this boarding school to that boarding school, often running away multiple times from each of them. One time, he tried to be with his mother, but she rejected him. Manson, felt unwanted and unloved and learned to never trust anyone for the rest of his life. With such a troubled past behind him it does not take Sigmund Freud to figure out that Manson would soon find himself deeply invested in petty crime. This included breaking into grocery stores all the way up to armed robbery at the young age of thirteen. He was in and out of juvenile hall centers. According to Manson, he was constantly raped and beaten at said centers and in fact he would run away upwards to eighteen times. His crimes continued into adulthood, basically making prison his new home. In 1967, he was finally released from prison, ironically against his own will; by this time he had spent seventeen years (more than half of his life) in prison.
When Manson left the penitentiary a new world awaited him. A generation had come of age and the Summer of Love was kicking. The 1960s counterculture, particularly in San Francisco, had taken over the nation, so to speak. Long hair, antiwar protests, and psychedelic drugs became ubiquitous seemingly overnight. Young people disdained their parents’ traditions and trashed anything representing the establishment. These kids related to the rebellion of Rock and Roll bands like The Rolling Stones and The Doors and admired the outlaw image of figures like Bonnie and Clyde and Che Guevara. They dug leaders that stood for a new kind of America, one that buried all the traditional values of the America they were raised in and felt abandoned by. Enter Charles Manson, who himself stated, “When I got out all your children would come to me because nobody else had told them the truth.” Of course this was far from the truth as certainly all children did not go to Manson for enlightenment. Naturally, most kids, no matter how drugged up and doped out they were, had enough sense not to join Manson and become part of his “Family.” But, just a few were enough. The man recruited several young, impressionable people, mostly women and was able to brainwash them (often with the assistance of LSD) into thinking he was Jesus Christ or a similar Godlike figure. These women essentially became Manson and would do anything he instructed them to. Even at this juncture in his acting career, Manson dazzled his audience with his intense and fascinating philosophies on life. He had so much control over them that he was able to mastermind his minions into committing the horrible massacre of the Tate-LaBianca murders in August of 1969. Though, Manson was not present, his underlings followed his orders to murder actress Sharon Tate and several others at her home in Death Valley. In prosecutor, Vincent Bugliosi’s book, Helter Skelter he describes the terrifying scene of the crime, “Sharon Tate Polanski-murder victim. Eight months pregnant, she pleaded for the life of her child. “Look, bitch, I have no mercy for you,” one of her killers replied… Only on getting closer did the officers see the bizarre message the killers had left. Printed on the door, in Sharon Tate’s own blood, were the letters PIG” (142). The next night they committed similar murders at the home of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. Subsequently, the police made the connection between both massacres and the killers and their ringleader were brought to trial. Finally, the whole world got to see Charlie and his angels perform and they loved the attention. This was the beginning of the Charlie Manson Variety Hour, a program the media has eaten up ever since.
During and after the trial (he and his Family were all convicted of murder), Manson’s image became one of the most recognizable in the world. Most famously, his face graced the cover of Life magazine (though he also made the cover of Rolling Stone, amongst others) and this has since become the most famous photo of Manson to date. The mainstream media loved Manson, but obviously portrayed him (rightfully so) as a monster. Of course, if they had made Manson a christ figure they would have lost most viewers, but just by giving him so much attention, he was given all the glamour he needed. The underground press or much of it anyway had no issue with portraying Manson as not only a victim, but another hero of the Revolution, another freedom fighter. At the time, the Vietnam War was boiling and people were taking sides. On one hand was the establishment (Western Civilization) and on the other was anti-establishment, which it turns out in many cases could very well be solely those that opposed the establishment. Thus, Manson became an icon of sorts for the counterculture. Fellow outlaw, Jerry Rubin wrote of visiting Manson in prison following the trial. Rubin, however was not a murderer, but rather one of the leading social activists of the era with a radical sensibility. In his 1971 book, We Are Everywhere, he wrote, “I fell in love with Charlie Manson the first time I saw his cherub face and sparkling eyes on national TV…Manson’s soul is easy to touch because it lays quite bare on the surface. He said he was innocent of the Tate murders and was being persecuted by the pigs because of his lifestyle… Is Charlie innocent or guilty? What is innocence and what is guilt? Can Amerika, after all it has done to Charlie Manson, now put him on trail?” (239-240). Rubin’s sympathy and endorsement of Manson was not uncommon during this era, particularly amongst other subversive and/or underground figures. In fact, in some interviews/speeches, Rubin and others radicals almost sounded like Manson: militant and dogmatic in their attitude and always condemning the American society that turned them into who they were. Of course, the former spoke of liberation, while the latter spoke of domination and annihilation, hardly a freedom fighter,
In the years since his imprisonment, Charles Manson’s stardom has only increased. He has become a massive figure in our American pop culture, he might as well have his star on the Hollywood walk of fame. From books to movies to documentaries, Manson is everywhere. To this day people, particularly young people, follow, worship, or are at least fascinated by Manson. Why? This can be attributed to Manson’s lack of respect for authority. His sense of anti-authoritarianism, at least on the surface, and individuality is attractive to young people, whom are finding themselves as well. Secondly and more significantly, in general the public loves a juicy story, and when it is a celebrity, it is all the more entertaining. The bizarre, the unusual is a big dollar. And the Manson murders were anything but usual and have since become one of the most famous murder cases in history. After his imprisonment, he received numerous interviews on national TV from some of the most famous reporters of all time including Geraldo Rivera, Charlie Rose, Tom Snyder, Diane Sawyer, and others. With the help of the Victims’ Rights Movements, this trend of interviewing serial killers has dyed down over the years. Ultimately this media coverage does very little to nothing for society, except make us crave Manson and other serial killers all the more. When we watch said interviews we do not gain any knowledge or further understanding. Admittedly, they are entertaining, but they mask themselves as something more. But, there is truly no moral purpose to interviewing Charles Manson and giving him the time of day for millions of Americans to tune in to him in their homes. When all is said and done, it is nothing more than cheap entertainment, which is okay, but should be acknowledged as just that. It is no different then any other tabloid, celebrity story. Though Manson is still quite famous, it is for the best that he receives less and less attention, so instead we can focus on real issues rather than fascinating stories to satisfy our taste for the peculiar. In one of his famous prison interviews, Manson was posed the question, “People look at you today, twenty years later and they still have no idea what you’re about. Tell me in a sentence who you are.” After making a series of comical faces, he replies, “nobody.” And there you have it, no one knows Manson as well as Manson himself. For once, I agree with Charlie, he is “nobody,” just another celebrity in a sea of celebrities.

Quote of the Day- John Brown

“I want you to understand that I respect the rights of the poorest and weakest of colored people, oppressed [to deny others their rights or liberty] by the slave system, just as much as I do those of the most wealthy and powerful. That is the idea that has moved me, and that alone.”

John Brown at his Virginia Court Hearing, 1858

And you Klyammy cats thought Jay Reatard was wild at Harpers Ferry, you should have seen John Brown in 1859!

Auditing Massachusetts Law: Crimes Against Gov’ts

This is a new feature where I’m going to audit many of the General Laws of Massachusetts so as to show basic violations of freedom. Some of these crimes and punishments are utterly absurd. I didn’t include it in this segment, but my very utterance of that could somehow be considered treason under the vague language of Massachusetts Law.

Flag Burning/Flag Misuse

– Chapter 264: Section 5. Whoever publicly burns or otherwise mutilates, tramples upon, defaces or treats contemptuously the flag of the United States or of Massachusetts…shall be punished by a fine of not less than one hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or both.
– Chapter 264. Section 7. Whoever publicly mutilates, tramples upon, defaces or treats contemptuously the flag or emblem of a foreign country at peace with the United States…shall be punished by a fine of not less than five nor more than fifty dollars.
– Chapter 264. Section 8. Whoever displays the flag or emblem of a foreign country upon the outside of a state, county, city or town building or public schoolhouse shall be punished by a fine of not more than twenty dollars.

Screwing With The National Anthem
– Chapter 264. Section 9. Whoever plays, sings or renders the “Star Spangled Banner”, or any part thereof, as dance music, as an exit march or as a part of a medley of any kind, shall be punished by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars.

Anarchy
– Chapter 264. Section 11. Whoever by speech or by exhibition, distribution or promulgation of any written or printed document, paper or pictorial representation advocates, advises, counsels or incites assault upon any public official, or the killing of any person, or the unlawful destruction of real or personal property, or the overthrow by force or violence or other unlawful means of the government of the commonwealth or of the United States, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than three years, or in jail for not more than two and one half years, or by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars; provided, that this section shall not be construed as reducing the penalty now imposed for the violation of any law.

Subversive Organizations/Membership
– Chapter 264. Section 16. The term “subversive organization” as used in sections seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty-one, twenty-two and twenty-three of this chapter shall mean any form of association of three or more persons, however named or characterized, and by whatever legal or non-legal entity or non-entity it be established, and whether incorporated or otherwise for the common purpose of advocating, advising, counseling or inciting the overthrow by force or violence, or by other unlawful means, of the government of the commonwealth or of the United States.
– Chapter 264. Section 22. Whoever being in charge of an auditorium, hall or other building shall knowingly permit it to be used by the Communist Party or by an organization which has been adjudicated a subversive organization under the provisions of section eighteen shall be punished by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or both.
– Chapter 264. Section 19. Any person who becomes or remains a member of any organization knowing it to be a subversive organization shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than three years or in jail for not more than two and one half years or by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars.

Communist Party
– Chapter 264. Section 16A. The Communist Party is hereby declared to be a subversive organization.

Recommended Literature

I plowed my way through Lies the Government Told You: Myth, Power, and Deception in American History (Andrew Napolitano, 2010) a little while ago and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the read. I was a bit judgmentally skeptical at first considering Napolitano is a Fox News pundit and all, but I’ve honestly never watched him on TV. I read on Wikipedia that he is a pro-life Catholic Constitution junkie kind of like someone I know. Napolitano points out events in American History that exhibit governmental failure. He does a great job of describing why government has innately been an institution that’s been working against the Constitution by being paternalistic, wastefully bureaucratic, and pathologically dishonest with the citizenry.  Napolitano stands up without reservation for civil liberties: the right to free speech, to privacy, to property, and to bear arms. I especially like his little rants against the utterly useless and pathetic War on Drugs. He basically says, “yeah, a lot of Americans are afraid of drug use and don’t want it to be a part of society, but let’s get something clear right now: individuals are solely responsible for whatever kind of drug, food, or drink they want to enter their body. No one else is. THE END.” Once Napolitano starts making proposals to end Social Security, the Federal Reserve, and agencies like the FDA, he might lose some people. He does make some convincing arguments on these matters. I’m a little hesitant to let private business run completely wild, but we have to remember that government usually isn’t much better with its regulatory mechanisms and inefficiency. This isn’t A People’s History, but it sure will initiate some brain activity.

Recommended: Yes.