The obituary page is filled with famous names today. At least one probably won’t make you feel too sad: notorious cult leader Charles Manson has died at 83, after many years of burdening California taxpayers with the cost of keeping him alive in prison and occasionally holding “you’ve-got-to-be-kidding” parole hearings. I won’t recount what he’s infamous for, since pop culture has given us so many versions of his role as Svengali to a ring of murderous, drugged-out hippies. Click the link if you need a reminder.
The only halfway positive thing I can think of to say about Manson is that he was a great cautionary tale of just how badly things can go when people give up their critical thinking skills to mindlessly follow a “charismatic” leader. “Charisma” is highly overrated, whether it’s the driver of small cults or vast political movements.
Other commentators are already drawing parallels between the way some societal misfits glamorized Manson in the ‘60s and ‘70s and how Rolling Stone recently put that “teen idol” photo of the Boston Marathon bomber on its cover. Neither is deserving of any positive recognition. They both represent the lowest form of life – unrepentant murderers of innocent people. Let their victims be remembered, celebrated and eulogized. Let them be buried along with the evil they represented.