Manson Case Leaves Its Lessons Above The Arrogance And Sorrow
Wednesday, March 31st, 1971
Mar. 31 — Then, there came a second verdict on a memorable day as the systems of justice are recorded for the nation. There was, first, the outcome of the Calley case. Then, the jury’s verdict on cult leader Charles Manson and three of his women who called themselves disciples said that they were to die in California’s gas chamber.
The immediate reaction for most people to the Manson case undoubtedly centered on relief that the trial was over. For those who seek to uphold basic foundations of a nation, and justice is included, Manson and those with him had disgraced themselves, had cast a shadow on all young people who may venture into nonconformist living patterns and still live honorable lives, and they had even succeeded in building an emotional fear in some parts of the strictly adult world. How could young people, the question often has been asked, be so misguided? How could these young people become so twisted in their minds that they would live as they did and kill as they did?
As this immediate reaction subsides, however, there still are other considerations. The Los Angeles court, for one thing, didn’t crumble in the massiveness and sensationalism which surrounded its proceedings. Jurors gave up nine and one – half months of their lives to serve the court. The professionals — the judge and others with him — permitted the case to be fully presented and debated. California itself will pay the bills amounting to more than $1 million. All of this was accomplished, also, within the noise and irrational behavior of the defendants, their arrogance, their disrespect not only for the court but for all which it represented through it as a part of the nation and of society.
The case, indeed, becomes a prime example of the ideal goals of justice, giving the one who is charged his opportunity in defense and to do it at all costs.
These many months which have passed will have a lasting impact on those who were directly involved beyond the defendants themselves. There already have been the verbal threats on jurors.
There will be those who will take up the Manson cause and register themselves in still other strange ways.
Yet, we suspect that this will not be massive. The Manson cult represented a few people, not many. What those now convicted did was to take themselves out of the world of others and create a world for themselves. They killed, as the jury has said, without reason, only that those who died by their hands represented a part of the society which they had left. It is a shameful reality. To the masses, it also must be regarded as a sad experience for the 35-year-old Manson and for the young people who were swept up in his pattern of life and tragedy.
This type of life does not represent many people, young and older alike. There are not many, in their call for freedom of thought and action beyond the establishment, who will give their approval to what the Manson cult did. Civilization and all of its weaknesses cannot have its chance to improve if the Manson cult could gain in acceptance and understanding.
There will be more noise, of course, but this will give way to the strength of justice itself, of civilization itself, which will overcome the reactionaries.
There have been some changing public attitudes even in the nine and one-half months since the trial began. All young people who wear their hair long and who grow their beards; all young people who ask strong questions and don’t automatically accept the answers which past generations can give them; and all young people who search for themselves in their conflicts an not sick of mind, twisted in thought, full objectors of values and principles. The vast majority may express doubt and objection on generalities, but the Manson way will not be their way.
There will be more to the case as it now goes through appeals.
But Charles Manson does not stand now as an idol, a martyr. His kind, and those like him, stand to be pitied. Anyone who throws his life away needlessly, and leaves sorrow and death in his wake, is to be so judged.