Friday, March 27, 2015

Playing with Puppets

"Reform suggests that you have already been solidified into a self. You were not. You were barely fifteen. You learn that the brain is not fully formed until you're twenty-five years old, and you wonder, then, what becomes of the mind commandeered before it has learned to follow paths of logic. You were soft as clay straight from the earth. You were reformed before you were formed.”
- Addie Zierman

“The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.”

-Fredrich Nietzsche

Imagine yourself in the following situation: You sign up for a psychology experiment, and on a specified date you and seven others whom you think are also subjects arrive and are seated at a table in a small room. You don't know it at the time, but the others are actually associates of the experimenter, and their behavior has been carefully scripted. You're the only real subject.

The experimenter arrives and tells you that the study in which you are about to participate concerns people's visual judgments. She places two cards before you. The card on the left contains one vertical line. The card on the right displays three lines of varying length.

The experimenter asks all of you, one at a time, to choose which of the three lines on the right card matches the length of the line on the left card. The task is repeated several times with different cards. On some occasions the other "subjects" unanimously choose the wrong line. It is clear to you that they are wrong, but they have all given the same answer.

What would you do? Would you go along with the majority opinion, or would you "stick to your guns" and trust your own eyes?

In 1951 social psychologist Solomon Asch devised this experiment to examine the extent to which pressure from other people could affect one's perceptions. In total, about one third of the subjects who were placed in this situation went along with the clearly erroneous majority.

Asch showed bars like those in the Figure to college students in groups of 8 to 10. He told them he was studying visual perception and that their task was to decide which of the bars on the right was the same length as the one on the left. As you can see, the task is simple, and the correct answer is obvious. Asch asked the students to give their answers aloud. He repeated the procedure with 18 sets of bars. Only one student in each group was a real subject. All the others were confederates who had been instructed to give two correct answers and then to some incorrect answers on the remaining 'staged' trials. Asch arranged for the real subject to be the next-to-the-last person in each group to announce his answer so that he would hear most of the confederates incorrect responses before giving his own. Would he go along with the crowd? 

To Asch's surprise, 37 of the 50 subjects conformed themselves to the 'obviously erroneous' answers given by the other group members at least once, and 14 of them conformed on more than 6 of the 'staged' trials. When faced with a unanimous wrong answer by the other group members, the mean subject conformed on 4 of the 'staged' trials.
Asch was disturbed by these results: "The tendency to conformity in our society is so strong that reasonably intelligent and well-meaning young people are willing to call white black. This is a matter of concern. It raises questions about our ways of education and about the values that guide our conduct....
Groupthink is a term first used in 1972 by Socialogist Irving L. Janis that refers to a psychological phenomenon in which people strive for consensus within a group. In many cases, people will set aside their own personal beliefs or adopt the opinion of the rest of the group. People who are opposed to the decisions or overriding opinion of the group as a whole frequently remain quiet, preferring to keep the peace rather than disrupt the uniformity of the crowd. Why does groupthink occur? Think about the last time you were part of a group, perhaps during a school project. Imagine that someone proposes an idea that you think is quite poor. However, everyone else in the group agrees with the person who suggested the idea and the group seems set on pursuing that course of action. Do you voice your dissent or do you just go along with the majority opinion? In many cases, people end up engaging in groupthink when they fear that their objections might disrupt the harmony of the group or suspect that their ideas might cause other members to reject them. Groupthink can have some benefits. When working with a large number of people, it often allows the group to make decisions, complete tasks, and finish projects quickly and efficiently. However, this phenomenon also has costs as well. The suppression of individual opinions and creative thought can lead to poor decision-making and inefficient problem solving. A number of factors can influence this psychological phenomenon. It tends to occur more in situations where group members are very similar to one another and is more likely to take place when a powerful and Charismatic leader commands the group. Situations where the group is placed under extreme stress or where moral dilemmas exist also increase the occurrence of groupthink.

So.... what are you?

A go along- or A go alone?

What would you do?

I am still trying to figure out how people, back in 69, could be so stupid as to "follow" a guy like Charlie who was; so much older, with an obvious prison background, and who kept asking them to do increasingly hurtful or dangerous things? You think Tex, Lulu, and Katie haven't been asking themselves this question for years? I have read all of them give explanations in parole hearings and interviews over the years. I guess there is some Psychiatry or Social Science behind it, but still. You have to agree that a few of them took it ridiculously far in so much as accomodating what they were being asked to do in the name of fitting in and "looking our for your Brother and Sister".

Even back then, under those circumstances, only a few would cross the ultimate line, while the majority would not. The lengths those few were willing to go to really troubles me.

But lately I have something on my mind which troubles me even more.

After reading articles and terminology, like the ones I pasted above, for the last 7 years about this subject- I can ( almost) start to understand why some of the younger ones back then fell under the spell of no rules and free sex/drugs/rock and roll. Hell, if it wasn't for the filth and the VD- I would have loved to spend a weekend camping at Spahn back in the day. I mean isn't that sort of hedonistic 60's "free-love" lifestyle a little part of what attracts many of us to this case?

But what I can not understand- no matter how hard I try- is why adults, all these years later and with the benefit of hindsight, are still trying to find a way to force themselves into being caught in that spell? I fear not what I can understand. It is the irrational that makes me nervous. The idea of a bunch of troubled, hungry kids following the lead of an older experienced con man is a concept I can wrap my mind around after some understanding of social phenomena . A grown adult choosing to worship and idolize a career criminal who is locked away for life, and used an example to all as a symbol of the worst kind of evil- well that scares me to death...

Charlie Manson is not a martyr. He is not Christ on the cross. He was not framed, or misjudged. He was not denied a defense, or the right to represent himself. He is not a environmentalist. He is not a loving guy, or a person who cared much at all about anyone outside of what they could do for him. Not then, and not now either. You can keep on telling yourselves that if it helps you get to sleep at night, but like Tippy Phileau once told me: "All the tellin' in the world just ain't going to make it so"

Charles Manson is a very, very bad guy. Not the most Evil man alive. Not the most dangerous man alive. He never was. As far as "Serial Killers" go- he is way over-rated. But still overall in the big picture of things, he is still a really bad person. What makes him a little more dangerous to me, than your average scumbag, is that he is an inspiration to many other jack-asses out there who are very troubled anyway, and need to find something dark enough to fill the void in life they are lacking in some manner or another. Charlie's legacy through the years, and to this day in my opinion, is that other unstable people become worse potential problems as a result of associations, and fascinations with him. Tex Watson in 69, and the modern day fanatics who still cling to the Manson gospel are far more likely to cause arbitrary trouble and damage then Charlie was then or would now in my humble estimation.

Charlie had a poor childhood. Charlie had a missing father and a drunk absentee mom.

And, so do thousands of other people in our society year after year unfortunately. Is that an excuse for anyone else to do the things Charlie did? ( Don't worry an itemized list coming shortly)

Come on people. You gotta do better than that. Don't you want to be better than that? Stealing as a kid to eat is very sad. Having parents who are not around, or who dont really want you is very hard too. Really difficult stuff. But we all personally know many people who had it that way, and even some who had it worse. Some of them get over it and go on to be o.k.- and others end up in trouble. We all know that no matter what breaks people get- some take advantage and others make excuses. Coming from bad circumstances is not a life-long free pass to do whatever you want. It wouldn't be an excuse if someone who hurt a person you care about used it I bet...

But- Excuses can be a godsend when others keep making them for you, and really isn't that what all this is about?

Then and now? Those who want you to believe how tough Charlie has always had it. So unfair life has been to him... He had it really, really bad right?


Let us please remember it wasn't during his childhood, when Charlie got really extra ugly. That happened after he had just spent 15 months of as about as much fun as a guy could ever want to have. He had spent his time traveling around to all kinds of cool places with a bunch of girls who gave him whatever he wanted. Directing nightly orgies, others cooking his meals, being washed and bathed, getting high and having multiple chic's do your bidding as you want. Not really the type of things which would make me pissed at the world. He was playing music with some really important people. He was calling all the shots. He never had to get a job in all of that time to pay of any of this. He never had to take an instruction, or have a responsibility he didn't want in all that time. He got to play boss and top dog to a group of people who wanted to do nothing but work for him and please him. I know there are quite a few people out there reading this who wish they had life so bad.I mean what was it about his life that sucked so bad at that point he needed to start stealing and hurting other people?

The real and honest truth is that it was because when it came time to start paying for things he could no longer get for free- he didn't want to do so. He didn't want to work. He wanted others to do it for him. When people would no longer give to him- his only choice was to start taking. And that should show you how much he cared or loved everyone back then... He starting playing people he had spent time with against each other. He had them start taking from each other. Is that your idea of a caring guy?Anything is yours is mine and what is mine is yours is very convenient when you bring nothing to the table...

So here is where you tell me all the things I am saying that Charlie never did. Charlie didn't do this and Charlie didn't do that. Wah,Wah,Wah,Wah it starts to sound like Charlie Brown's teacher lol.

OK- so lets just do a quick review of what we know Charlie did do- just for the record:

Shot Crowe, gave drugs to minors/had sex with minors, rape, assault, sodomy, stealing, pimping, beating women, beating children, kidnapping, check forgery, car-jacking, participated in Gary's murder, and-if nothing else in TLB- he tied up the Labiancas and contributed to murder. 3 times he walked away and left other human beings for dead. Do you not get that? Where is your line if this did not cross it? All the things he did that people pooh-pooh, or brush off. He had no regard for human life. This doesn't even include his involvement in Shorty's death.

What is it about this resume that makes a person decide this is a guy I just have to get to know?

 I guess that if the first two pieces at the top of this post can explain how a smart young person might get caught up in something like this, I should try understand how people who are not as bright could do so as well. But, again, I would think people should have the benefit today of knowing what those back in 69 did not about the person in general, and the benefit of not being caught up in that particular moment, or the benefits that went with the trouble.

 What do they see in Charles Manson?

 There is no redeeming value to Charles Manson. They speak of him and Truth. There is no "truth" coming from a person like this. He says whatever to whoever he needs- to get what he wants. He hurt people and used people and he did it selfishly, and with impunity until it finally went too far. People got hurt. Lives were lost and serious damage was done forever to many innocent people. Then when he was finally called to answer for his actions, Charlie chose, instead, to make a circus and mockery of the entire process. His antics and need to have all attention on himself caused the grieving families of the victims to suffer further pain while having to watch him, and his other co-defendants; laughing, smiling, and showing off for the spectators and cameras. He and his "family"  blaming and taunting people who were no longer around to defend themselves. Shameful I say!

Then he says he never got a fair chance in the first place...

This is your "Truth" ?

 After all the excuses some will make for him, and for the excuses to associate with him, wouldn't it just be honest to look at what it is inside, and be honest about what it is in them that needs these type of relationships? If it is a Darkness they seek, and Charles Manson gives them that, why not just say it is so? Be honest about what they get from Charlie.

 Because it is obvious to me what Charlie gets from them. They are out there spouting his nonsense.

He still gets to pull strings.

After all this time, he is still doing his favorite thing- Playing with Puppets.

Finally, let me simply ask this: Do you ever think about the people he hurt, or the lives he helped destroy? Does it matter to some at all that so many people were hurt?  I have a hard time understanding, but I want to. Tell me if there is a good answer, and I will listen. I do not understand why people chose to follow the devils and demons???

                                      When the world is filled with so many Saints