Charles Manson & marriage: an ungodly duo

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Of Drugs and Delusions

This might sound comical now, but then the wounds of 1965’s LA Watts Riots still festered. Civil Rights and race were the hot-button issues of the decade.

How Charlie convinced his followers that a race war jived with his utopian worldview still baffles me today, but drugs played a large part in it. That, and group sex. Charles Manson “orchestrated” sexual encounters, telling followers whom to sleep with, ensuring there remained no slavish bonds of devotion to anyone but him. He kept them high, too.

Manson’s case file tells of his paranoid delusions, schizophrenia, megalomania, and narcissism. He’s a textbook example of each. Add a steady, never-ending cocktail of mescaline, acid, cocaine, and all the other drugs employed on Spahn Ranch, and it’s no wonder Manson’s audacity emboldened rapidly through early ‘69.

Worn down by pimp-trade tricks of copious drugs and occasional beatings to demand obsequence, his followers were beholden to the spell of Charlie and his supply of drugs.

And this all began with his reading a simple book called How to Win Friends and Influence People.

From Charmer to Controller

Maybe Charles Manson thought of himself as a conductor, up there waving his baton, ushering others to into action. Perhaps he thought this would give him plausible deniability.

Enter District Attorney Vincent Bugliosi, who was enraptured with Manson as a nemesis. The DA made his case, convincing the jury that this tiny 5’2” scrawny man was a monstrously manipulative mastermind who coerced a gang of hippies to commit some of the most violent murders authorities had ever seen, all through words and drugs.

Anyone who thinks Manson has to ply his groupies with drugs and alcohol to guarantee subservience misunderstands his considerable charisma and intuition. He may have escalated their devotion with classic tricks of cult-programming trade, but first he simply talked to them.

It Must Be Love

And on the eve of Jonestown’s 36th anniversary, another of the 20th century’s criminal mastermind cult-leaders is issued a marriage license for his latest fan, “Star” Burton.

Manson’s original devotees were idealists and romantics who lost their way under his manipulative spell. They were all hippies before they became murderers.

“Star” is a Baptist, reputedly a nice girl who worked in a retirement home kitchen to scrimp and save so she could move to be closer to Charlie. She has admitted a history of drug use, but to what extent, we don’t know.

She’s drawn to Manson, she says, for his environmental writings. Charles’ beliefs include the notion that overpopulation is killing the planet.

How do you solve overpopulation? You depopulate. Quickly.

In a 1988 interview with Geraldo Rivera, Manson laid out his thinking. As Infowars explained:

“Manson goes further, saying that 50 million dead will be required to please mother Earth.

“I’m gonna kill you, as many as I can. I’m gonna pile you up to the sky, I figure about 50 million,” said Manson, “I figure if I can get about 50 million of you I might be able to save my trees and my air and my water and my wildlife.”

Manson characterized the slaughter of 50 million people in the name of saving the planet as “just a drop in the bucket of what’s really coming.”

Mass death was also what he had hoped to accomplish through Helter Skelter.

The Case Against Marriage

And now Manson’s gained a marriage license to a young woman who shares his views, won’t be able to sleep with him, but will have greater access and more time with him. No big deal, right?

In 1975, one of Manson’s original followers, Squeaky Fromme, attempted an assassination of Gerald Ford. Manson was behind bars and Fromme had moved close to the prison to spend more time with him. Manson was not implicated in this attempt, but what was her motivation? “Air. Water. Trees.” The environment.

If anyone thinks the “environment” bringing Manson and Burton together is an indication that we can ignore this road to nuptials, they’re kidding themselves.

If this was some guy off the street and there was only potential for something bad to happen, there wouldn’t be enough cause to take preemptive measures, because human rights need to supercede hypotheticals.

But this isn’t some guy off the street. This is a man behind bars for life because of actions he put in motion, a man who has never shown an iota of remorse for the eight people murdered by his groupies, who still brags about the sway he’s held over devotees.

He’s a manipulative, narcissistic egotist, and he’s had 45 years to conceive a grand final act. Narcissists like to leave legacies, and for a guy like Manson, who’s always been on the edge of a zeitgeist, a 45-year-old crime isn't a legacy, it's ancient history.

Do you know when I think you opt out of basic human rights? When 8 people die at your beckoning, and more than 45 years pass without you ever expressing remorse.

You should lose your right to marriage when you’re probably one of the only people to ever get life in prison for murders you talked others into committing on your behalf. 

Giving this woman any more access to Charles Manson could result in death. Saying that is not a reach. We may never know how he’s become such a master manipulator, but he is one, and we cannot allow ourselves any false sense of security just because he’s a tiny, frail 80-year-old 5’2 criminal behind bars.

If Afton Elaine “Star” Burton is inspired to commit even one murder to appease her would-be husband, it’s one death too many, and the fault will be entirely on California's penal system.

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