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Jonestown: Armageddon Writ Small

By baron samedi in Op-Ed
Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 05:02:30 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, you can't help but notice that November 18, 2003 is the 25th anniversary of what has come to be known as the "Jonestown Massacre".

There's a excellent description of the events that unfolded that day in Guyana. Today, as they do every year, survivors and families of victims gather to commemorate their loss.

I was six going on seven years old when it happened.


I was over at my friend Colin's house, and we'd been spending the afternoon making fake blood and monster masks that we'd learned from a book. I remember seeing an issue of "Time" magazine, which had a photo of dead people, even little kids, lying around a metal vat of purple liquid with cups and sinister looking chocolate-brown containers nearby. The kinds of containers that hold chemicals that you, as a six year old, are absolutely forbidden to touch - poison. My friend described to me what happened there. He told me about how the Moms gave poison to their babies and their kids.

Later that night, alone in bed, I couldn't get the image of that magazine cover out of my head, no matter how hard I tried. I was thinking to myself "Why did they do that?". Unable to really grasp what was going on, I was afraid. I tried staring at the advent calendar I'd gotten, it was still November, but I couldn't wait to start opening the doors on the calendar. I thought I could burn in a pleasant image of Christmas to cover the horror I saw that afternoon. My parents had gone out for the evening, and my elderly European babysitter gave me some ice cream. Comforted, I returned to bed.

Later on, of course, I found out more about Jim Jones, and his People's Temple. There was even a movie made about it, starring Powers Boothe as Jim Jones. I've seen footage of Jim Jones in action, and Boothe nails it.

The charismatic and seductive Jones is a personal icon of evil for me. There's evil in the world, all right, and it ruled that day in the jungle. I think what troubles me most about it is that there are probably people out there that know exactly what happened, but aren't talking about how it all happened, the exact sequence of events from start to bloody finish. What would it change? Probably nothing, but there may be people out there who committed mass murder and got away with it.

Most people think that it was a mass suicide, but many of the young children were almost certainly murdered, and people were found with injection sites on their backs. It seems as though halfway through, a couple hundred people came to their senses and attempted to escape, only to be shot in the back by Jones' cadre of armed guards, who disappeared into the countryside after the massacre. U.S. Army Green Berets were conducting excercises not far from the Jonestown site, and arrived soon after the Guyanan forces. They reported that it looked as though some had been shot and then dragged back into the camp. It was even reported that some had been shot with crossbows. All in all, 912 people died, including Jones, who died of a gunshot wound to the head.

The event also took the lives of Rep. Leo Ryan, several journalists, and wounded Ryan's assistant, Jackie Speier, who later became a California State Senator. They were gunned down on an airstrip in Guyana, attempting to fly out several members of the People's Temple who wished to leave Jonestown.

I write this for a couple of reasons. First, I would like to hear about anyone else who remembers this event, preferably from when they were young. Second, I think that in an age when the concept of "Good vs. Evil" seems to be bound so tightly to rhetoric, exploration of what makes up evil, and especially since the People's Temple started life as an organization that claimed to strive for good, and was even successful at it for a time, how things can end so horribly is worth looking at.

I look at the People's Temple and their activities. They ran some effective social programs, including drug addiction treatment. I understand the desire to bring more religious organizations into social services, and even to provide public funding for such groups. Is the People's Temple anything like Catholic Charities or other religious social service organizations? Of course not, but two years before Jonestown, Jim Jones was the chairman of the San Francisco Housing Authority. Two years before he directed the slaughter in Guyana, Jones was in a position of public trust.

Do I fear mass murder? A little, I guess. I do fear charlatans posing as religious saviours directing mass suicide and murder? I do, because these things send shockwaves throughout all of our societies, and people like Jones have the will to end the world if they can.

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Jonestown: Armageddon Writ Small | 118 comments (113 topical, 5 editorial, 4 hidden)
Interview on NPR last night (3.00 / 9) (#3)
by rhino1302 on Tue Nov 18, 2003 at 06:23:00 PM EST

There was an interview with a survivor on NPR last night. The astonishing thing was that she still looked back on her years in Guyana as the best years of her life. Maybe they really were, or maybe she's still under the spell of Jim Jones.

Some still are (were)... (2.62 / 8) (#7)
by baron samedi on Tue Nov 18, 2003 at 08:43:56 PM EST

There were two people who wrote a book about their experiences with the People's Temple, it was not flattering.

The two were found murdered in their home a year later...


"Hands that help are better by far than lips that pray."- Robert G. Ingersoll
[ Parent ]

name of the book? (none / 1) (#96)
by Wah on Thu Nov 20, 2003 at 10:50:53 AM EST

nt
--
kewpie
[ Parent ]
There are a couple... (none / 2) (#104)
by baron samedi on Thu Nov 20, 2003 at 03:22:05 PM EST

I'm trying to find the name of the one that I was talking about before, but there is one called "Poison Seduction", which was written by a woman named Layton, published by Anchor Press. Her brother was the one who pulled a gun inside one of the planes on the airstrip.
"Hands that help are better by far than lips that pray."- Robert G. Ingersoll
[ Parent ]
Heard it too (2.75 / 8) (#33)
by JonesBoy on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 09:14:13 AM EST

I heard the same interview, and wow, it was freaky.   She was crying in sorrow while saying that everyone at the camp was just so happy.   Put a chill up my spine.   It was obvious that J.J. had a great deal of control over the people there, and that control still had an effect on the woman years after, when she understood how wrong everything went.
Speeding never killed anyone. Stopping did.
[ Parent ]
Bizarre (none / 2) (#43)
by starbreeze on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 12:26:59 PM EST

Yeah, on All Things Considered. Last months issue of Bizarre (a Brittish publication) had an interview also, and all sorts of pictures. Very macabre. I only began hearing about Jonestown a few years ago, but I was 9 days old when it happened.

~~~~~~~~~
"There's something strangely musical about noise." ~Trent Reznor
[ Parent ]

I was twelve, it was horrifying (1.93 / 15) (#6)
by Adam Rightmann on Tue Nov 18, 2003 at 08:34:16 PM EST

perhaps the first time I saw an actual death on TV (the news all showed the shooting at the airstrip).

I can hardly think of a more vivid danger of fundamentalist Christianity run amok. Without a heirarchy of learned theologians to guide Mr. Jones, he spiraled into an evil pit of despair.

ever given your president a thought? (1.57 / 7) (#18)
by Dirty Sanchez on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 04:21:37 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Dick Cheney is a Fundamentalist? (none / 3) (#34)
by Adam Rightmann on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 09:27:36 AM EST

I figured he was a money worshipping atheist, myself.

[ Parent ]
Re: I was twelve, it was horrifying (2.25 / 8) (#29)
by d4rkst4r on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 08:30:12 AM EST

Sorry, but this, and similar cult behavior, has absolutely nothing to do with fundamentalist Christianity. Read, and more importantly, understand, the Bible. Mr Jones did not spiral into an evil pit of despair because of a lack of learned theologians to 'guide' him. He showed his true colors. The Bible warns us that even Satan himself can take on the appearance of an angel of light. How would it be any less possible for his 'followers' to do similarly?

[ Parent ]
As I understand Fundamentalist Christianity (none / 1) (#36)
by Adam Rightmann on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 09:52:48 AM EST

all you need for a congregation is someone willing to read the Bible and interpret it. There need be no superiors to act as a check on dangerous impulses. So, someone possessed by Satan or one of his minions can start a Fundamentalist cult, and then brainwash people into doing great evil.

Compare this with the Roman Catholic church, who has an entire heirarchy watching over the Parishes. Deviate too far from Canon, and the Bishop, the Cardinal or even the Pope gets involved. Far more protection from evil, IMHO.

[ Parent ]

Unless of course ... (2.50 / 8) (#39)
by craigtubby on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 11:08:43 AM EST

... the Canon is in itself flawed, and people deviating from it are actually moving in the right direction.

try to make ends meet, you're a slave to money, then you die.

* Webpage *
[ Parent ]

True, you pick your Canon and take your (none / 1) (#41)
by Adam Rightmann on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 11:19:56 AM EST

chances.

Of course, it's hard to argue with 2000 years of success.

[ Parent ]

Medieval excesses (2.40 / 5) (#42)
by Nimey on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 12:12:49 PM EST

Of course, it's hard to argue with 2000 years of success.
Modulo the Church's medieval excesses, like the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Counter-Reformation, executing heretics, and so on?

Granted, the Catholic Church has done much good in history, but it's hardly 2000 years of unbroken sucess at being Good.
--
Never mind, it was just the dog cumming -- jandev
You Sir, are an Ignorant Motherfucker. -- Crawford
I am arguably too manic to do that. -- Crawford
I already fuck my mother -- trane
Nimey is right -- Blastard
i am in complete agreement with Nimey -- i am a pretty big deal

[ Parent ]

Oh come on! (1.60 / 5) (#50)
by BuddasEvilTwin on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 01:33:16 PM EST

  Any organized ideology that's existed for 2000 years is going to it's periods of mass execution, tyranny, torture, oppression, and contempt for science and reason!

  I'm sure in a thousand years time; even pacifists will be beating and torturing bullies in the streets!

[ Parent ]

who's Budda? (none / 1) (#57)
by Battle Troll on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 02:15:06 PM EST

/nt
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
BuddhasEvilTwin was taken... (none / 1) (#66)
by BuddasEvilTwin on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 05:04:28 PM EST


...on another very popular website.  

Go figure.

[ Parent ]

Re: As I understand Fundamentalist Christianity (none / 2) (#44)
by d4rkst4r on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 12:30:24 PM EST

No. One principle of fundamentalist Christianity is that God did not hide from man. He gave us His Word to read, study, and understand. By this manner, we are (or should be) able to discern the difference between truth and error. In a fundamental church, the congregation does not blindly follow some leader/preacher/prophet. They listen to the teachings of the preacher, but they always test the truthfulness of his teachings against the authority, the Bible. If a preacher is attempting to promote teachings that are unsupported by the Bible, then the congregation has the authority/responsiblility to correct the preacher. The check upon the teaching of the leader is always what the Bible says.

You make an interesting point in suggesting that the hierarchy, such as found in the Roman Catholic Church, could/should act as a correction to deviant teachings. There would seem to be two fundamental problems with that idea, at least as it is practiced: 1) authority moves away from what God has said to what man has said, and 2) the congregation abandons its responsibility to test the truthfulness of its leaders teachings. As others have suggested, what is to prevent falsehood from being taught as truth if the congregation is not verifying its leaders teachings.

[ Parent ]
1 and 2 are not problems, in the eyes of the RC (none / 1) (#45)
by Adam Rightmann on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 12:40:07 PM EST

Church.

1) The Bible is not taken literally, but rather as a body of work that requires a certain amount of learning to properly interpret. For instance, the Pope endorses evolution, we can wear socks blended of wool and spandex, certain apocrypha are not deemed worthy of inclusion, and the New Jerusalem Bible is not recommended for literalists.

2) It's Canon that the Pope is guided by the Holy Spirit, he can no more be wrong than God can. To suggest the heirarchy is wrong is the definition of heresy.

[ Parent ]

Re: 1 and 2 are not problems, int the eyes of the (none / 1) (#53)
by d4rkst4r on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 01:48:27 PM EST

Agreed. Unfortunately, neither is the RC in any manner an example of fundamentalist Christianity.

It is true that we must be careful to consider the context in which any passage of scripture is found when we are interpreting it. There are passages in the Old Testiment that clearly record history without endorsing the events recorded, or specific instructions to Israel at a specific point in history for a specific reason that is not evident/clear or pertinent to us now. At the same time, we must be careful not to dismiss as time and place specific, teachings that clearly were intended to be universal and unchanging. It is also true that some passages: such as parts of Daniel, Ezekiel and Revelations; use imagery to convey the message. But this is no different then the challanges we face everyday when interpreting the written word in books and newspapers.

[ Parent ]
Here's a horrifying exercise (2.25 / 4) (#47)
by roystgnr on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 01:17:57 PM EST

Sorry, but this, and similar cult behavior, has absolutely nothing to do with fundamentalist Christianity.

You may not have talked to enough fundamentalists, or chosen the right subjects.  The story of Abraham and Isaac is the most popular story whose "moral" appears to be that disobedience is worse than murder, but there's even better stuff in the rest of the Old Testament.  Try asking fundamentalist Christians or Jews about Numbers 31 or Deuteronomy 13, for example, and see what percentage of them will support capital punishment of apostasy or even genocide in God's name.

[ Parent ]

Re: Here's a horrifying exercise (none / 0) (#62)
by d4rkst4r on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 04:16:34 PM EST

First, let my clarify: I am a born-again, fundamental Christian. The story of Abraham and Isaac is one of faith in God, not the relative comparison of disobedience and murder. It may seem an extreme test, but consider this: God had plainly told Abraham that God would make a great nation of him, and through him bless all of mankind. Isaac was the fulfillment of that promise. But the question was, would Abraham finally fully trust God to keep and honor His word. God never put Isaac at any risk, but He did test Abraham's faith. As to your references to Numbers 31 and Deuteronomy 13: to who were these 'laws' or 'commands' directed, what was the circumstances under which these were given. Understanding scripture requires care in interpreting what is written: you have to look at what the purpose was for including it, to whom it is directed, and whether other scripture amplifies or contradicts what you originally understood. Some scripture is strictly history, recording events that happened during Israel's birth and growth but not condoning what happened. Some scripture applies only to Israel at the time it was given, and had no wider application. David's adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of her husband are clearly recorded in 2nd Samuel, but nowhere is either deed condoned.

My statement that Jim Jone's actions, and that of similar cults, has no relationship to fundamentist Christianity stands. God did not hide Himself from man. He declared Himself plainly in His creation and gave us His word, the Bible, so that we could know Him better and know His will for us. We are called to test the witness of 'so-called saviors' against God's revealed word. God cannot lie. If the Bible makes a claim and someone comes along denying that claim, then clearly they are lying.

[ Parent ]
Old Testament.... (none / 1) (#75)
by baron samedi on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 07:02:21 PM EST

Hey, what happened to the new and everlasting covenant? Put the old testament away, put Daniel and Revelation away and get into the Gospels. Leviticus and Deuteronomy have been supplanted by the Sermon on the Mount.


"Hands that help are better by far than lips that pray."- Robert G. Ingersoll
[ Parent ]

Re: old Testiment..... (none / 1) (#82)
by d4rkst4r on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 09:55:01 PM EST

Agreed. We are not under the law of the Old Testiment. Because of God's love for His creation, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins; paying our debt in full if we will accept it, freeing us from the bondage of sin. Jesus' resurrection proved His claims and God's validation of His claims. Yet and still, the Old Testiment holds value and meaning for us now also. Paul, in 2nd Timothy 3:16,17 states: "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." To be able to use scripture properly, Paul had earlier called on us to "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15).

Fundamental Christians worship and glorify God, cults worship and glorify man. That is the fundamental difference and the reason why cults do not derive from fundamental Christianity.

[ Parent ]
Oh yes, I must concur... (none / 0) (#90)
by baron samedi on Thu Nov 20, 2003 at 03:58:03 AM EST

Fundamental Christians worship and glorify God, cults worship and glorify man.

Absolutely. Such an excellent point, one that I wanted to make by writing the article in the first place, but couldn't really express it in the right terms until just now.

I think it's extremely telling that at the point of the Jonestown episode, the People's Temple had basically ditched the bible. Instead, they had the words of "Father" as the Jonestown followers referred to Jim Jones.

Jones was referred to by the press and others at the time as "The messiah from Ukiah", and it's not at all unclear where that kind of thinking leads...

In short, only the actual messiah can be the messiah. Aren't we all warned about false prophets?


"Hands that help are better by far than lips that pray."- Robert G. Ingersoll
[ Parent ]

Re: Oh yes, I must concur... (none / 0) (#95)
by d4rkst4r on Thu Nov 20, 2003 at 10:11:21 AM EST

Aren't we all warned about false prophets?

Yes. 1 John 4:1-3 "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God:..." In Acts 17:11 the Berean believers are cited as the example for the congregation. Of them it is said: "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." We are not called to a 'blind and irrational' faith.

[ Parent ]
Using Bibles as toilet paper (none / 1) (#56)
by baron samedi on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 02:14:24 PM EST

Last night I read an excerpt of an interview with the lone survivor of the massacre who hid under a bed. Apparently, there were no bibles at Jonestown. A shipment of Gideon bibles arrived there, but when the camp ran out of toilet paper, Jones told the people to use the pages of the bibles instead.

By the time they got to Jonestown, Jones had already replaced Christ, and had become a god himself. You can't really say that they were fundamentalist Christians at this point. They went off the reservation long before that...


"Hands that help are better by far than lips that pray."- Robert G. Ingersoll
[ Parent ]

I saw a picture yesterday (none / 1) (#63)
by Dirty Sanchez on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 04:33:10 PM EST

In a men's room near L.A.
Lying on the floor beside the throne.
Had I not recognized the cross
I might have failed to know the boss,
I thought, "Lord, you look neglected and alone."

I picked it up with lovin' care,
I wondered who had placed it there,
When l saw there was no paper on the roll.
I said, "Lord, what would you do
If you were me and I was you,
Take a chance, save your pants or your soul?"

[ Parent ]

Not surprising (none / 1) (#87)
by stodd on Thu Nov 20, 2003 at 01:02:00 AM EST

If any of Jones' followers actually read the Bible themselves, they might have realized that what he was teaching wasn't in there. God gave us scripture, and a brain to interpret it. It's best to use both.

[ Parent ]
Jim Jones was bored (1.66 / 9) (#11)
by godix on Tue Nov 18, 2003 at 10:09:51 PM EST

I mean here's a mass suicide and there wasn't one decent joke about it. There are jokes about NASA when the shuttle blew up, WACO after the tanks rolled in, and even 9/11 floating around but none about Jim Jones. I guess all the punchlines were too long or something.

...when the Christians are praying for you, they're usually about a day short of commencing bombing.
-
dunno if this counts as a joke (2.57 / 7) (#12)
by Estanislao Martínez on Tue Nov 18, 2003 at 10:16:51 PM EST

but "drink the Kool-Aid" has become an idiomatic English expression.

--em
[ Parent ]

correction (2.20 / 5) (#24)
by it certainly is on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 06:51:49 AM EST

"an idiomatic American expression", please. Kool-Aid™ isn't even marketed in England, except to American ex-pats by importing food-markets.

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

Wasn't Kool-Aid anyway... (2.50 / 4) (#60)
by baron samedi on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 03:11:52 PM EST

It was Flav-R-Aid
"Hands that help are better by far than lips that pray."- Robert G. Ingersoll
[ Parent ]
Boom! (none / 0) (#118)
by oat5tout on Mon Nov 24, 2003 at 03:32:19 PM EST

The Bloodhound Gang has this line in a song: "like Jim Jones' cult, I'll take you out with one punch."

That count?

Free Rush! -speek
[
Parent ]

A few thoughts (2.58 / 12) (#13)
by jd on Tue Nov 18, 2003 at 10:28:38 PM EST

First, you might want to read Scott Peck's "People of the Lie". Even if you disagree with 99% of what he says, he does illustrate some wonderful cases of evil (if evil can be called wonderful) and it certainly may prove helpful in the understanding of things like this.

Second, things like this go on all the time. The defence for Lee Malvo rests on essentially what could be called the Jonestown defence - that an otherwise rational person can be brainwashed to the point of believing that evil really is good, and then carrying out those acts of evil.

Last, but by no means least, I would throw in one important consideration. Were those who tried to escape "coming to their senses"? After all, they still didn't escape, so it doesn't sound like they were actively working to avoid attackers - they were likely just as much panicked sheep as the rest, just bolting in another direction and ergo as easy for Jim Jones to have killed.

Besides, he promised his followers a paradise. Just about anything - including the oblivion of sectarian logic - would be paradise compared to a mental and emotional death camp. So, in a way, for all his evil, maybe he did deliver what was promised.

Before I finish this post, consider one final thing. How many things have you accepted on blind faith, without evidence of any kind, for no reason other than placing your absolute trust in a given person?

In a sense, we are ALL in Jonestown, because we are ALL guilty of letting others think for us. Further, we are ALL Jim Jones, in the sense that we have shown no desire to spare a single life of a brainwashed person.

Or do you think Malvo's prosecutors are demanding his blood for nothing? After all, he was a responsible adult (or near enough). How could adults be brainwashed? Who could believe in such a thing?

Those from Jonestown might.

Today (2.75 / 8) (#31)
by iheartzelda on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 08:58:44 AM EST

There are tons of adults being brainwashed today.

[ Parent ]
Hmmm (none / 0) (#107)
by jd on Thu Nov 20, 2003 at 11:38:14 PM EST

The scientology link I understand. Can you clarify the others?

[ Parent ]
Don't know about the last (none / 0) (#110)
by TheOnlyCoolTim on Fri Nov 21, 2003 at 08:23:27 AM EST

But I know the first two are Scientologists, so I'd guess the third guy is too. They have this thing about getting famous people in their church.

Tim
"We are trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death."
[ Parent ]

the life of a brainwashed person (2.50 / 4) (#38)
by error 404 on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 11:00:38 AM EST

Well, some of us do value the life of even a brainwashed person. I suspect you do. I know I do.

One of life's lessons that took me a long time to learn was respect for even people who are weak, particularly when the weakness results in submission to predators like Jim Jones or personal abusers, or to psychics and astrologers*. A brainwashed person is still a person. Respecting the person without respecting the brainwashing is something that took me a while to learn.

* On the psychics and astrologers, I'm talking about submission, not interest or curiosity or even using such as one of several views of a situation. Consulting an astrologer and then making up your own mind is not a problem. Substituting an astrologer's analysis for your own judgement is.

..................................
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

[ Parent ]
Yes, I do. (none / 0) (#68)
by jd on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 05:07:22 PM EST

I personally consider all lives to have value.

However, I have extra compassion to the brainwashed. It's not just something strange, wacky religious cults practice, and even then, there are a very large number of those.

I know what it's like to utterly put my mind in someone else's hands, and equally I know what it's like to have others put their minds in mine. All it takes is a lack of critique. But you're not born with that skill, it's something you learn. Usually the hard way. And there are many who never learn it at all.

[ Parent ]

Argumentum Ad Hominem (2.80 / 5) (#48)
by rhino1302 on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 01:22:15 PM EST

You seem to say that because we all have at some point trusted the judgment of other people, that we should forgive Malvo and the folks at Jonestown.

I disagree. As a former member of a fraternity, I know how the combination of peer-pressure, suggestion by authority, and incremental steps can cause a person to do things that they would never do otherwise. I did several things that I regret while in that "brainwashed" state, and I take full responsibility for them. The greatest sin, however, was how by willingly participating I made it easier for others to willingly participate. While I would not have committed a serious crime, if one of my fellow pledges did I would share much of the guilt.

At all times we are required to listen to our consciences, and strive for realism in our world-view so that our actions can be evaluated in their proper context. Voluntarily abandoning your conscience and your world-view does not absolve you from guilt.

[ Parent ]

It is true that it doesn't absolve you (none / 0) (#65)
by jd on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 04:54:15 PM EST

My point is that we should judge others no harsher than we are prepared to judge ourselves. That is, our judgements should be based on our best understanding, our closest experiences, and how we would wish others to balance mercy with justice in our own case(s).

In some cases, we would wish ourselves to be punished harshly. That's a little unusual, but it does happen. In those cases, sure! Feel free to judge others by those same standards.

I'm not telling you to have mercy, or indeed what to do at all. If you are Christian, then you will understand me when I say that my beliefs come from one source and four lines:

  • Judge not, lest ye be judged (which translates to: however you judge others will be the standards with which you're judged, so be aware of what you are doing)
  • He who is without sin may cast the first stone (which is essentially the same as the above, but in the context of punishment, rather than judgement)
  • Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (again, the same as above, but in the context of etiquette)
  • And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us (again, the same as above, but in the context of mercy)

For those who aren't Christian, the whole of the above can be summed up as: Standards are like a double-edged sword - they cut both ways.

Using both the DC Sniper attacks and the Jonestown tragedy as a combined example, it seems very clear to me that if you hold Malvo guilty of murder, then those responsible for brainwashing the Jonestown folk are innocent of what happened next.

In fact, if you hold Malvo guilty, you must also hold Muhammed innocent of murder, as you can't claim that he controlled Malvo and that Malvo was a free agent. You've got to choose. Both of them may be guilty of their own things, but only one of them can be guilty of murder.

This is one of the things I find amusing and saddening about those who believe in inflicting their own wrath onto others, whether deserved or not. Their standards are often decided by what they'd need to believe, to carry out their vengence. They're not really standards at all. They're excuses.

But if you feel you need an excuse to feel a certain way, or do something in particular, isn't that telling you that there's something not OK about it?

[ Parent ]

Plety of guilt to go around (none / 1) (#97)
by rhino1302 on Thu Nov 20, 2003 at 01:03:35 PM EST

If Malvo was indeed "brainwashed", then he is guilty of allowing himself to be "brainwashed". It's not as though he was held against his will and subjected to psycological torture. He willingly delegated his conscience to someone else, and should take responsibility for doing so.

Responsibility for an action can rest on multiple people. Guilt is not zero-sum; sharing it with someone else in no way reduces your burden. I would argue the opposite, in that you recieve extra guilt for enabling the crimes of another.

Your application of Christian theology is backwards. Those lines admonish us to hold ourselves to the same standards that we hold others. They do not say that we should hold others to the same standards that we hold ourselves. This misunderstanding is the basis of of the "Argumentum ad Hominum" falacy.

[ Parent ]

Jonestown (2.22 / 9) (#15)
by John Thompson on Tue Nov 18, 2003 at 11:19:24 PM EST

I had just graduated from college when Jonestown happened. I had recently returned from Europe, where I had been travelling through the USSR and Eastern Europe, and had visited Baba Yar and Auschwitz. Jonestown cemented a deep cynicism that I fear has persisted to this day.

Tell us more? (none / 0) (#61)
by Quietti on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 04:13:45 PM EST

What kind of cynicism? Examples?

--
The whole point of civilization is to reduce how much the average person has to think. - Stef Murky
[ Parent ]
that would be... (none / 0) (#115)
by Wah on Fri Nov 21, 2003 at 10:29:16 PM EST

religion and government.

(he did give examples)
--
kewpie
[ Parent ]

More about Jim Jones (2.93 / 16) (#16)
by FlipFlop on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 12:30:04 AM EST

Jim Jones started his religious leadership as a student pastor at Somerset Methodist Church in Indiana. While working there, he went around town and made guest appearences at other churches, attracting large crowds with his charsmatic speaches. He eventually build up a large enough following to found his own church, The People's Temple.

The People's Temple built up a belief system involving apocalyptic doom. It started off with a fear of nuclear annihilation and expanded to a fear of CIA persecution. In 1965, Jones and 140 of his followers moved to Ukiah, California; which Esquire Magazine declared to be safe from a Nuclear attack.

While practicing in California, Rev. Jones would occassionally finish communion by telling everyone they had just drunk poison. He would then spend a few minutes explaining how the congregation would go to heaven, live wonderfully, and escape the horrible world they lived in. Finally, he would explain that the drinks weren't really poisoned; and he would chastise people for doubting him.

In order to protect themselves, the People's Temple moved to an isolated location in the Guyan jungle. This had the added effect of separating outside critics from the congregation, making groupthink much easier to maintain.

Jones held routine drills where everyone was told that mercenaries were swarming in the jungles. People were told to drink poisoned Kool-Aid that would kill them in 45 minutes. When it came time for everyone to die, Jones would tell his congregation they had just been through a loyalty test.

When Congressman Ryan arrived, the man convinced four people to abandon the group and return to the United States. Rev. Jones presumably felt threatened by the defects and somehow the congressman ended up getting shot.

Hours later, Jones gathered everyone together, told them the CIA was about to attack and that they needed to prepare for a revolutionary death. Anyone who objected was shouted down by the crowd. If that wasn't enough, they were reminded of the fate they would meet in the hands of the CIA.

This summary doesn't do the Jonestown story much credit. The key to Rev. Jones' control over the congregation was isolating them from outside influences, conditioning the people a little bit at a time to think the way he wanted them to, and making the people dependent on him.

AdTI - The think tank that didn't

Good comment (none / 1) (#20)
by nebbish on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 04:57:15 AM EST

Pls repost as topical

---------
Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee
[ Parent ]

Convinced? (3.00 / 5) (#59)
by baron samedi on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 02:51:39 PM EST

When Congressman Ryan arrived, the man convinced four people to abandon the group and return to the United States.

Well, I don't know how accurate that is. The way I've read it, some people slipped one of the journalists a note saying, in effect, "Get us out of here!". Ryan took them with him, and Jones decided to have them killed, as it fulfilled his delusion that the CIA was going to come and kill them all.


"Hands that help are better by far than lips that pray."- Robert G. Ingersoll
[ Parent ]

From the strangest sources (2.33 / 6) (#19)
by jobi on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 04:35:14 AM EST

I first learned about Jonestown from the song Guyana by heavy metal band Manowar. It was a bit scary when I realized it was about something that had really happened, just like Saxon's song Dallas 1PM.

Anyway, just goes to show you that you can learn from the strangest sources... :)

---
"[Y]ou can lecture me on bad language when you learn to use a fucking apostrophe."
Everything I know about history (none / 1) (#37)
by dreadclown on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 09:53:34 AM EST

I learned from Iron Maiden. I love the NWOBHM.

[ Parent ]
or... (none / 0) (#79)
by /dev/trash on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 07:40:20 PM EST

Nice Shot by Filter.

---
Updated NEW 10/15/2003!!
New Site, More Parks
[ Parent ]
I'm just waiting (2.06 / 15) (#21)
by Abominable Abitur on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 05:26:57 AM EST

for the $cientologi$t's to snap.

"Terrorism is only a viable "political activist" method for marginalized nutjobs, bottom line. The backlash that it causes makes it intractable for any reasonable ideology. Which is why you don't generally see wild athiest suicide bombers in america's streets." - lonelyhobo
care to explain your vote of (1.08 / 12) (#40)
by Abominable Abitur on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 11:18:08 AM EST

DISCOURAGE? Are you a disciple of the LRon? Are you rife with thetans existing in your body yearning for escape, put there by Xenu so many billions of years ago when he dropped "atomics" on the great volcanos of a non-existant Earth?

Just wondering.

"Terrorism is only a viable "political activist" method for marginalized nutjobs, bottom line. The backlash that it causes makes it intractable for any reasonable ideology. Which is why you don't generally see wild athiest suicide bombers in america's streets." - lonelyhobo
[ Parent ]

It won't happen. (none / 0) (#108)
by mcc on Fri Nov 21, 2003 at 01:05:19 AM EST

Maintaining their current status quo is much, much too profitable for their higher-ups to allow the "Church" to do anything cataclysmic.

---
Aside from that, the absurd meta-wankery of k5er-quoting sigs probably takes the cake. Especially when the quote itself is about k5. -- tsubame
[ Parent ]
well (none / 1) (#114)
by Abominable Abitur on Fri Nov 21, 2003 at 07:52:08 PM EST

if you visit the "clam bake" website you'll find some interesting articles that make allegations of underground bunkers, weapons training facilities, and other "non-cataclysmic" activities. Of course he's someone with the intention of getting as much 'bad' information about the 'church' out there. However much of the information is from legal documents that the "Church" itself is trying to keep out of the hands of the general public.

"Terrorism is only a viable "political activist" method for marginalized nutjobs, bottom line. The backlash that it causes makes it intractable for any reasonable ideology. Which is why you don't generally see wild athiest suicide bombers in america's streets." - lonelyhobo
[ Parent ]
Good and Evil Don't Exist (2.18 / 11) (#22)
by teece on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 05:37:29 AM EST

I think part of the problem is that the terms 'good' and 'evil' are so vague as to be almost meaningless. All we really know is that good is what you strive for, evil is what don't. But what makes up each is completely definable -- every society has a slightly different view of what falls in what camp. Sure, most societies agree on a lot of what would be good, and almost everyone would say that Jonestown was evil.

But the root of the problem lies in the fact that these are terms that must be defined. Cults all over the world do the defining all the time. And everyone has to have at least passing exposure to the fact that some people define things differently. What 'proof' does one have that Christianity is 'good.' What about certain sects of it? What about Buddhism? Luckily, the worlds major religions tend to stay away from wanton destruction. But they function the same way as any cult. So if the cult happens to preach the nonsense that Jones does, nasty shit can happen, via the same mechanism that Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, et al, are able to flourish.

The prime culprit here, I think, is not 'evil' but irrationality. And a longing to fit in somewhere, and be led. People are all too willing to take what someone else tells them as God's Gospel truth.

-- Hello_World.c, 17 Errors, 31 Warnings...

oddly (2.00 / 5) (#28)
by jettero on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 07:06:05 AM EST

Oddly enough, I find myself thinking about the game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. In it, there's about a thousand hours of boring dialog. You're given 4 or 5 responses and you must choose the ones that bring you closer to the light (or dark) side of the force.

During the game, the choices were mostly totally obvious. But in the interests of keeping it subtle -- I assume -- some of the choices were harder than others. And though most of the moral dilemmas were really obvious, others weren't.

Is it because of poor writing? Or is it because I might not have agreed with the writers on that point?

Heh... I seem to get all my philosophy from Lucas Arts LLC and Wakaskoski Brothers Inc. Sorry.

[ Parent ]

quite (none / 0) (#100)
by Wah on Thu Nov 20, 2003 at 01:32:14 PM EST

Is it because of poor writing? Or is it because I might not have agreed with the writers on that point?

Well, this would point out a lot of the problem some people have looking to the 'Revealed Word' for a moral compass.  Some things are pretty clear cut and obvious. Some things are contextual, with simplified arguments.  The distinction can be difficult to discern.

I haven't played the game (although I did to Black and White and other titles hoping to illustrate a similar dynamic) so I don't know how well they do it, but it seems that in the real world, sometimes the 'good' decisions don't lead to the best results.  And the same for the evil ones.

Games get to clear away the clutter and define a universe that runs only on the 'Revealed Code'.  Actions have generally clearly defined results.  The real world doesn't have this simplicity, and requires some of the 'faith' mentioned above.  Because sometimes the action and the effect and difficult, again, to discern.

Personally, I'm a big believer in the ongoing discussion about what is right and wrong, rather than pinning all my hopes on some of the absolute pronouncements from millenia ago.
--
kewpie
[ Parent ]

Don't exist, or...? (3.00 / 6) (#49)
by Francis on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 01:26:53 PM EST

I don't think that your conclusion is necessarily self-evident. Just because we cannot define good and evil down to the minutest detail does not suggest that it does not exist. Rather, it suggests that we simply aren't always clear about it.

It really boils down to faith. If you have a belief in God, then you are likely to accept the notion of Absolute Truth. As a corollary, you must accept that Good and Evil exist in spite of our inability to completely define them. But even the faithful must subjugate their own judgement (their own definitions, so to speak) to the judgement of God. That is why, in Christianity for example, it is said "Judge not, lest you be judged," the idea being that humans are not equipped with complete understanding and should therefore reserve judgement.

Does any and every given question have a single answer that is "most" right and a single answer that is "most" wrong? I always hear the argument that morality is relative, that it has "gray areas." Well, is it not possible that these "gray areas" are manufactured by our own limitations and that there is a higher order that is completely black and white?

COMMENCE FLAMING
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Insults are the first and last arguments of fools. -- Unknown
[ Parent ]

Seems reasonable (none / 2) (#51)
by teece on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 01:43:33 PM EST

I always hear the argument that morality is relative, that it has "gray areas." Well, is it not possible that these "gray areas" are manufactured by our own limitations and that there is a higher order that is completely black and white?

That seems like a relatively reasonable assessment. I don't ascribe to it, but it is a hard ponit to argue one way or the other. I respect that point of view.

-- Hello_World.c, 17 Errors, 31 Warnings...
[ Parent ]

is unenlightening in real-world contexts (none / 2) (#73)
by error 404 on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 06:19:20 PM EST

Amusing to debate abstractly, handy for meaningless but rousing oratory.

In just about every situation, "Good" translates to "on my side" and "evil" to "I don't like it". When Bush calls Saddam evil, that tells you nothing about Saddam - only that Bush doesn't like him. I do not argue that Saddam is not evil, only that calling him evil does not express anything useful.

This does not mean there is no such thing as right or wrong actions. When Bush enumerates some of Saddam's wrong actions, that tells you about Saddam.

Some actions are just plain wrong. Some are wrong in one context or another. Some are defined by society. No consistant the

All human beings, for what it's worth (which ain't much) are both good and evil. What is far more enlightening is to look at past actions and use those to project likely future actions. For example, since Saddam is evil, many people expect him to be in cahoots with Osama Bin Laden or providing weapons for terrorists. Clearly evil actions. But evil isn't a team. Those who observe his past actions consider it unlikely that he would cooperate with someone who would insist on being treated as an equal, or voluntarily lose control of a weapon.


..................................
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

[ Parent ]

The enlightenment depends... (none / 2) (#88)
by Francis on Thu Nov 20, 2003 at 01:59:46 AM EST

on whether or not you think the real-world is the only relevant context. Semantics also afford little logical meaning to an argument.

When Bush calls Saddam evil, that tells you nothing about Saddam - only that Bush doesn't like him. I do not argue that Saddam is not evil, only that calling him evil does not express anything useful.

You are right in a way: morality is not about persons or objects. It is about actions; after all, we cannot examine one another's souls (not strictly speaking). I think there is an inference to be made when Bush calls Saddam evil. I think he is, in fact, saying that Saddam has engaged in evil actions, and not that Saddam is necessarily evil in any absolute sense. At least, I hope this is what he intends to say. This unstated premise does not necessarily negate the usefulness of the statement, though it does inject a considerable amount of rhetoric.

In just about every situation, "Good" translates to "on my side" and "evil" to "I don't like it".

Morality is not that neat and tidy to me. Consider this scenario: two tribes are at war. One warrior from Tribe A is captured by Tribe B, and fearing for his life, he divulges many secrets that will compromise Tribe A. Presumabely, Tribe B "likes" his behavior very much, as it is to their benefit, but they are not likely to regard him as being "good." In fact, if they are an honorable people they are not likely to regard him with much respect at all.

Or consider it differently: if a person accidently trips me, I will likely not be angry with him nor think him to be "malicious," but if a person purposefully tries to trip me I will be angry with him and consider him to be behaving "wrongly," even if he is unsuccessful. The point is that morality is not a question of "what one likes." It stands outside of our personal taste and subjectivity. Sometimes the behavior that we hold as honorable is positively, excruciatingly difficult and inconvenient.

Some actions are just plain wrong. Some are wrong in one context or another. Some are defined by society.

As I was saying before, for those who believe in a Supreme Being--and this is generally true of most beliefs, not just Judeo-Christian religions--there is no such thing as contextual morality. For the believer, then, every moral question has an absolute answer, though it is completely possible that s/he might be mistaken or unclear about that answer. It is this lack of clarity that presents itself as contextualism or relativism, but the fact (for the believer) is that the answer exists and has only not been revealed. Accordingly, then, there is no such thing as differing moralities, only morality "mistakes," and the believer is just as susceptible to making these mistakes as the unbeliever, sometimes more so.

All human beings, for what it's worth (which ain't much) are both good and evil.

Ironically, your post is a very good summation of Christian morality: every person is both "good" and "evil" (a sinner) to varying degrees, and their actions are all that we have to measure this "goodness" or "evilness." Therefore no person is evil, categorically speaking; nor is any human good in any absolute sense of the word.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Insults are the first and last arguments of fools. -- Unknown
[ Parent ]

What side of the road does God drive on? (none / 0) (#101)
by error 404 on Thu Nov 20, 2003 at 01:34:50 PM EST

I don't see any way that morality can be completely non-contextal. I'm not talking about moral relativism - some things are unconditionaly right or wrong. Others are cultural - I can't imagine that God has an opinion on what side of the street someone drives on, as long as it's the one that respects the safety of others. In some countries, it is clearly wrong to drive on the right, and in others on the left. Others are situational - it is usually wrong to kill people, but if the person is on a shooting rampage... (Actualy, my view is that it is still wrong, and an illustration of how original sin applies to the otherwise innocent. Shooting the berserker is wrong, but you have to do it anyway.) None of these denies absolute morality.

By the way - there is no irony in my view of the human condition resembling Christianity. My particular faith is Catholic Heretic with strong Jesuit and Franciscan influences. I first wrote that line as "all human beings are fallen, but vulnerable to grace".
..................................
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

[ Parent ]

Good/Evil vs. Right/Wrong (none / 0) (#103)
by Francis on Thu Nov 20, 2003 at 02:48:22 PM EST

I can't imagine that God has an opinion on what side of the street someone drives on, as long as it's the one that respects the safety of others.

Of course. Cultural customs and courtesies are irrelevant to a discussion of morality: driving my car on the right or the left of the road is not a moral question. Good and Evil are necessarily right and wrong, but right and wrong are not necessarily good and evil. For instance, I may prefer to eat my main course with a salad fork--while this is "wrong," it is not evil. It is simply a question that exists outside of a moral context (unless in doing so I am attempting to embarrass or offend someone).

...it is usually wrong to kill people, but if the person is on a shooting rampage... None of these denies absolute morality.

Whether it is right or wrong in this case may be unclear, but that does not dismiss the possibility that there is a right and wrong solution. When I talk of morality as being absolute I am not necessarily saying that in every case it is wrong to do "x." All I am saying is that there is an absolutely right and an absolutely wrong solution to every dilemma, whether or not we know these solutions, and the absolute answers cannot simply be a matter of subjective preference. I think we may perhaps be in more agreement than we originally thought. It seems that we are both agreeing to (the possibility of) an absolute morality, but we are stumbling over what questions we consider to be moral.

And my apologies for presuming that you were not a believer. I have become too accustomed to talking over the fence on this site...
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Insults are the first and last arguments of fools. -- Unknown
[ Parent ]

On a related note... (1.28 / 7) (#52)
by tkatchev on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 01:46:39 PM EST

...I hear fried baby is very delicious.


   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

Good and Evil are not subjective (2.40 / 5) (#54)
by MyrddinE on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 01:56:19 PM EST

Or, more exactly, they are not subjective from the proper viewpoint. Good allows society to thrive... Evil destroys society.

If everyone acted 'Good' then society would survive, and thrive... and stagnate.

If everyone acted 'Evil' then society would crumble, and we would have chaos.

However, progress is not made when everyone acts perfectly 'Good', because people who act good don't rock the boat. Some variety, spice, is necessary for progress. But I would like to make the point that progress, in and of itself, is not inherently 'good'. While the thought of humanity idly existing in a Utopian state of cooperation and bliss... in dark ages technology... is abhorrant to me, there is no reason to believe that it is a bad thing.

I however, am a technologist... I couldn't live without my computers, programming, Internet, information, etc. I like progress. And, for me, it is good. But I think progress is a subjective good... for some people it is good. For others it is bad. Perhaps it is good for more than it is bad... perhaps not. So I believe that progress is good from a relative, not absolute, perspective.

Perhaps you disagree that a smooth functioning society is a good thing. Perhaps you are an anarchist. From that viewpoint, the definition of 'Good' is quite different. But it is my assertion that humanity is designed for cooperation, to operate as a group, as a society. Because of this, I believe that Good is an absolute, as defined by the behaviors and actions that help society.

  • Help thy neighbor.
  • Do not harm others that offer no harm.
  • Support yourself and your family.
  • Be open minded to differences.
  • Keep your word.
Almost all the behaviors that define someone who is 'good' fall under one of those attributes. A good person is generous (help they neighbor), hard working (support yourself), not racist (open minded), friendly (don't harm others), and trustworthy (keep your word). An evil person violates those attributes... they harm others, let others support them, close minded, don't help others, cheats, etc.

To summarize: We are human. Humanity is a cooperative creature. Certain behaviors foster cooperation (society). Thus, these behaviors are 'Good' for humans, in an absolute sense. From another perspective the definition of good may be different... but the viewpoint that matters to us is the human one, and I believe that an absolute definition of good exists from that perspective.

[ Parent ]

Agreed (none / 0) (#72)
by teece on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 05:43:21 PM EST

I agree with the definition of good and evil you give here. The idea of good that I try to live up to is like the one you outline -- one that makes our society stronger.

But as you point out, an Anarchist would have a very different idea of good. So, too, did Jones. And that, really, is my point. That is how things like this happen -- Jones redefined what good meant, and that is a possible, even common, thing to do. His strong charisma then allowed him to get susceptible people into his fold, leading to eventual mass suicide, sadly.

-- Hello_World.c, 17 Errors, 31 Warnings...
[ Parent ]

'good is whatever benefits society' (none / 1) (#102)
by Battle Troll on Thu Nov 20, 2003 at 01:55:16 PM EST

A little circular don't you think? It doesn't exclude dictatorships or eugenics either.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
It's that attitide that allows cults (1.00 / 7) (#58)
by sellison on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 02:41:14 PM EST

to flourish.

Good and Evil are clearly and simply spelled out in the Bible.

But the social relativists claim they don't exist.

Yet human beings have an inborn need for Good and Evil, and to be clearly told which is which.

So various cults come along and fill this need for people who have rejected Christianity for various reasons, or have never been taught about Good and Evil from a Christian perspective due to the atheist religion haven taken over our govt.

Since the overall societal message from our schools to our 'secular' govt. is one of atheism, and atheism says there is no absolute Good nor Evil, what actually happens is that people look for alternative sources for the Good and Evil absolutes people are born needing.

This kind of abomination will continue to be common until we can re-assert our First Amenment Right to teach true religion and absolute right and wrong in the schools again.

Relativism works ok in physics (for now) but it has no place in human affairs!

"No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God."- George H.W. Bush
[ Parent ]

Nonsense (none / 2) (#71)
by teece on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 05:36:51 PM EST

This post is absolute, total nonsense. Your mind is amazingly closed.

Good and evil are set out in the Bible -- great! Guess what, the Bible was written by men. Men are very imperfect. Any man that claims to be telling you the word of God is either a) lying, b) insane, c) confused, or some combination thereof. It is that simple. Even if there is an absolute truth from God, man can not know it. The idea that we know exactly what God defined for us is the most arrogant thing I've ever heard.

Your insistance that Christianity is the only acceptable definition of good and evil is the basis of what a cult is. Your favorite religion, whatever Christian sect that is, IS A CULT! Just like the Jonestown people. The only difference is yours is better at not telling people to kill themselves (I presume). But is still a game based on mind-control, and some absolute truth that can not be questioned, of rigid dogma.

If your Christian God is really up there in the heavens, he would be rather ashamed of your stupendous arrogance.

Sorry of this is coming of very harsh, but if you had your way life would be worse than it was at Jonestown.

-- Hello_World.c, 17 Errors, 31 Warnings...
[ Parent ]

Beliefs. (none / 2) (#74)
by Francis on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 06:34:18 PM EST

Guess what, the Bible was written by men.

Most Christian denominations believe that the Bible was divinely inspired; that is, while it was physically penned by men, it was not they, in fact, who authored it--the Bible is "the Word of God." Normally the credit is given to the Holy Spirit. This allows for strict adherence to scripture without questioning the fallibility of the authors. And it really is necessary if you consider it carefully: the Bible would become impotent if just anyone could question its veracity based on its authorship.

Any man that claims to be telling you the word of God is either a) lying, b) insane, c) confused, or some combination thereof.

In which category would you place Christ?

Even if there is an absolute truth from God, man can not know it.

This is a tough one, I think. I think the answers to moral questions exist within us, and some of us are able to act on our conscience (find those answers) more easily than others. Those moral questions that fall outside the specific guidance of the Scriptures are not unanswerable by men, they are simply unanswerable by men at this time. A Christian, however, believes that there will come a time when all will be revealed.

I certainly don't want to turn this into a fruitless debate about the validity of Christianity or religion in general. But any discussion or disagreement about the nature of good and evil is necessarily going to solicit commentary regarding religion.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Insults are the first and last arguments of fools. -- Unknown
[ Parent ]

Good Points (none / 1) (#77)
by teece on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 07:30:01 PM EST

Most Christian denominations believe that the Bible was divinely inspired; that is, while it was physically penned by men, it was not they, in fact, who authored it--the Bible is "the Word of God." Normally the credit is given to the Holy Spirit. This allows for strict adherence to scripture without questioning the fallibility of the authors. And it really is necessary if you consider it carefully: the Bible would become impotent if just anyone could question its veracity based on its authorship.

I realize this, but we only have that from the mouths and hands of men. I think it is very, very dangerous to assume anyone can be believed to be speaking on behalf of God. One can not question God -- but one must be able to question men. But any man/woman who is acting on behalf of God is elevated by proxy to his level, which is very bad. The people that wrote the Bible, even if divinely inspired, have to be seen as fallible people. The alternatives are just too dangerous, otherwise. I mean, the Bible tells us it is a sin to mix fibers. Are we all going to hell because of our poly/cotton blend shirts? Seems down right ridiculous. But if the Bible is infallibe, then that is the case.

In which category would you place Christ?

I myself don't think of Christ as anything but another man, probably in the confused category. But I realize that many think of him as the son of God, which to me removes him from the category of men, and thus that statement, if you believe such.

A Christian, however, believes that there will come a time when all will be revealed.

I am fine with that. It is not my belief, but it is not my job to tell people what to think. But unless and until one is standing before God at the pearly gates, I think it is extremely unwise, even for the most devout of Christians, to assume one knows all of what God intened to be good and evil. I think that is the primary sin of Jones. His idea of good was quite obviously out of whack with the Bible's. But all Christian sects, as an example, assume they know what God intented to be good and evil. Yet they can't all be right. And there is no way to figure out which one is. So that is why I think needed to hold back from think of good and evil as absolute.

-- Hello_World.c, 17 Errors, 31 Warnings...
[ Parent ]

Ditto... (none / 1) (#98)
by Francis on Thu Nov 20, 2003 at 01:25:17 PM EST

I think it is very, very dangerous to assume anyone can be believed to be speaking on behalf of God. One can not question God -- but one must be able to question men.

I agree that we should be suspect when hearing testimony claiming to be that of God, but I also think that as a believer it is imperative to recognize the reality that God can and does act through men to accomplish objectives. You're right to point out that this creates a dangerous setting--Jones gave us all the proof of this that we need. But I'm sorry to say that there is no recourse for the believer but to solicit help from above and from the Word in deciding who really speaks for God and who is self-serving. We are never to worship men (even the Pope, for you RCs out there), but we (believers) should always ask for wisdom from God in evaluating men.

The people that wrote the Bible, even if divinely inspired, have to be seen as fallible people.

Of course, Paul was one of the most self-deprecating sinners in the Bible, and yet he authored most of the New Testament. But if the words of the Bible were breathed into Paul from God, it matters very little how fallible he might have been. It is, of course, a matter of faith that the Bible is infallible. But it is very dangerous, I think, to uphold those portions that you like and disregard those that you do not. That is how organizations like the KKK came into being (and the People's Temple).

I mean, the Bible tells us it is a sin to mix fibers. Are we all going to hell because of our poly/cotton blend shirts?

Well, there is no sense here in getting into a theological debate about Christian obligations to Old Testament Law. Here is a paper on the subject that I found on a quick google search. Feel free to check it out. It is complicated, and I don't have the answers. But as I was saying before, this does not mean that there aren't answers...

...that is why I think needed to hold back from think of good and evil as absolute.

I pretty much agree with most of your last paragraph. We should reserve judgment in all but those instances that are clearly in contradiction with Christian values (I know, this is begging the question). But just because we should hold back from "thinking" of good and evil as absolute does not, in itself, suggest that it is not absolute.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Insults are the first and last arguments of fools. -- Unknown
[ Parent ]

The arrogant one (none / 2) (#81)
by sellison on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 09:23:12 PM EST

in this conversation is the one saying

Any man that claims to be telling you the word of God is either a) lying, b) insane, c) confused, or some combination thereof.

Well, we Christians don't have to rely on 'any man' the way cults do. We have the word of the Son of God.

Now you may fervently believe that Jesus is a lying man, you may be the most evangelistic atheist on the planet, but at the end you are the arrogant one: thinking that all the order we see around us came from some random process for no purpose you show your amazing arrogant beleif that man is the highest being there is.

Humble Christians know that the order and the wonder of the universe could only be due to the work of an amazing and benevolent supreme being.

And as proof, He sent us His only Son, who told us straight out what was going on.

And He never, ever, asks us to 'drink the koolaid'.

Nor does He leave us berift in this fallen world without clear signs of Good and Evil, He is there for the atheists and the cultist too, and if only we were allowed once again to teach the truth in the schools and from the bully pulpit of government, all this silly and suicidal wasted time and lives on cults would soon come to an end.

We are the Good ones, we go with God, and if you would just cease your arrogant striving to keep up your false beleif that there is no higher power than yourself, you could join us in making this world a far better place.


"No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God."- George H.W. Bush
[ Parent ]

subject (none / 1) (#84)
by relief on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 11:40:13 PM EST

Well, we Christians don't have to rely on 'any man' the way cults do. We have the word of the Son of God.

Son of God sounds like any man to me. Do you trust the person who claims that this Son of God is truly a "son" of "god"?

thinking that all the order we see around us came from some random process for no purpose you show your amazing arrogant beleif that man is the highest being there is.

No, since man is also an order, according to this view it makes man just as purposeless as any other order. This view is niether arrogant nor humble, it is actually very beyond those sort of terms.

Humble Christians know that the order and the wonder of the universe could only be due to the work of an amazing and benevolent supreme being.

And as proof, He sent us His only Son, who told us straight out what was going on.


amazing, yes. benevolent, i'm not so sure. Maybe he's like any kid who likes to torture ants. Plus, if I were the creator of a vast universe full of sentient beings, I'd go talk to my creations myself, not through my son. =)

And He never, ever, asks us to 'drink the koolaid'.

True, the koolaidman is not god.

all this silly and suicidal wasted time and lives on cults would soon come to an end.

That's exactly what i'm talking about.

if you would just cease your arrogant striving to keep up your false beleif that there is no higher power than yourself

I've shown that we have no arrogant striving. And of higher powers, i'm not sure whether this power you speak of is higher or lower. ie Are gravitational forces and electromagnetic forces smaller or larger forces than that of the human mind? I truly don't know which is Higher or Lower. I think one may be an effect of the other, but still independent powers.

And as for making the world a better place, how does that work? By serving your god? I fling poo at your arrogant and nonsensical figures.

----------------------------
If you're afraid of eating chicken wings with my dick cheese as a condiment, you're a wuss.
[ Parent ]
riight. (none / 1) (#99)
by Wah on Thu Nov 20, 2003 at 01:29:42 PM EST

Good and Evil are clearly and simply spelled out in the Bible.

Don't forget the Koran. They are MUCH more clearly and simply spelled out there.

Or does that not qualify, being from an 'idol' god.

Nice troll, BTW.
--
kewpie
[ Parent ]

As Rushdie pointed out (1.16 / 6) (#105)
by sellison on Thu Nov 20, 2003 at 08:15:17 PM EST

much of the Koran was inspired by Satan, not God.

Muhammed was the Michael Jackson of his time, hardly a moral example.

For all that, many Muslims are good and moral people who would be fine Christians if not for their historical circumstances and their repressive governments, at least their faith doesn't try to tell them that good and evil are unattainable fantasys the way moral relativism does!




"No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God."- George H.W. Bush
[ Parent ]

Stick with Falwell (none / 1) (#112)
by Wah on Fri Nov 21, 2003 at 10:43:23 AM EST

Muhammed was the Michael Jackson of his time, hardly a moral example.

Hehe.  You should stick with the 'terrorist' line.  It's much more inflammatory.

...at least their faith doesn't try to tell them that good and evil are unattainable fantasys the way moral relativism does!

Well, count me not surprised that you again demonstrate a pretty solid lack of knowledge concerning the words you use.  

Bravo, my good boy.
--
kewpie
[ Parent ]

Humanist definitions of good and evil (none / 2) (#86)
by stodd on Thu Nov 20, 2003 at 12:56:46 AM EST

If I do something without reward which benefits another person, is that something that is good? Likewise, if I do something which harms another person, isn't that evil? In simplest terms, good and evil are what other people do to each other. Whether you believe in God or not, I think most of us will agree on these definitions.

It's good to help my neighbor with yardwork. If we help each other, we may be able to work through both of our yards faster. If I give money to charity, that's good. If I volunteer my time to help the homeless, then that's good.

Killing people is evil. Stealing from them is evil. Flying airplanes into skyscrapers is evil.

You can make the argument that good and evil are inventions of man, but you'll still think I'm evil if I run over your dog. And if I help you in a tough situation, you might feel I've done good.

[ Parent ]
Nope (none / 0) (#119)
by zerblat on Mon Dec 01, 2003 at 06:31:24 AM EST

At least I don't agree. The words "good" and "evil" are used to hide the actual motives behind peoples actions. It's very convenient to call e.g. Usama Bin Laden "evil", because then you don't have to try to understand them.

Remember, Bin Laden justifies his actions because the US is "evil". In his views his intentions are "good". As for killing and stealing being evil, is bombing Irak evil? Some people consider collecting taxes to be stealing (I don't!), does that make it evil?

People who selflessly help other people do so because the feel that they will be better of by doing so -- because they hope they will be rewarded with gratitude, respect or a pleasant afterlife, or simply because their conscience would make them feel miserable if the didn't.

I should also note that there's a big difference between consider acts evil/good and considering people evil/good. What does it take for a person to be evil? One evil act? Consistent evil behavior? What about people whose action are sometimes good, sometimes evil?

[ Parent ]

well then (1.83 / 6) (#23)
by bankind on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 06:14:48 AM EST

can some one now at least give up a link for the entire Jonestown recordings?

A couple of years ago, NPR spent an entire saturday morning playing cuts from the broadcasts. Jones preaching like a fool, sounding like bald geezer in the Apostle.

"Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time -- but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics." -Krugman

request: comment from sellison. (1.11 / 9) (#25)
by it certainly is on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 06:54:10 AM EST

I want to know what a canonical RWN troll thinks about the Jonestown massacre.

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.

Term? (none / 0) (#78)
by teece on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 07:34:59 PM EST

I want to know what a canonical RWN troll thinks about the Jonestown massacre.

What does RWN stand for?

-- Hello_World.c, 17 Errors, 31 Warnings...
[ Parent ]

HA HA HA HA !! (none / 0) (#109)
by rmg on Fri Nov 21, 2003 at 02:10:59 AM EST

YOU ARE ON THE WAY TO DESTRUCTION !!

MAKE YOUR TIME.

Oh, and it stands for "Santa Cruz Operations."

_____ intellectual tiddlywinks
[ Parent ]

Nope (none / 0) (#113)
by baron samedi on Fri Nov 21, 2003 at 02:55:53 PM EST

It stands for Santa Cruz Organization.
"Hands that help are better by far than lips that pray."- Robert G. Ingersoll
[ Parent ]
I know it's tasteless (2.16 / 6) (#26)
by nebbish on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 06:58:50 AM EST

But it's funny.

---------
Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee

Tastless? (2.14 / 7) (#32)
by JonesBoy on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 09:05:12 AM EST

Tasteless? I thought it was grape flavored.
Speeding never killed anyone. Stopping did.
[ Parent ]
Woah (2.16 / 6) (#27)
by beredon on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 07:01:32 AM EST

I just read this article, then meandered over to The Onion, where I saw this: http://www.theonion.com/3945/history.html

Quite a coincidence considering I live so far away from the place and have never really known what the hell Jonestown even was.

Just thought I'd share that with everyone here. :)

Currently it's the Raelians (1.00 / 13) (#46)
by sellison on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 01:08:03 PM EST

Who are performing mass murders as we speak!

The founding fathers meant for various sects of the Christian religion to flourish, but I'm sure they never realized that this would make it harder to prosecute destructive cults like Jone's, the UFO suicide cult, the Raelians, etc, for their destrutive ideas.

At the very least we should be able to deny tax exempt status to cults, tax exemption should only be allowed for the major religions.

But as more and more insane cults pop up from the filth in these end times, what we really need to do is recognize them as terrorist organizations like the Raelians are terrorist who attack the unborn, and prosecute them as such!

Conspiring to kill dozens or hundreds should be treated as a terrorist act even if they are conspiring to kill them by fooling them with false prophecy and koolaid in the case of the suicide cults or killing them in the womb in the case of the Raelians!

These groups need to be heavily surveiled and our good police should be informed and ready to stop their terrorist acts. In the case of the Raelians, we need to identify them as the international terrorist organization they are, seize their assets, and put them out of the baby murdering business!

If the liberals would stop their pandering to the mad scientists and let us pass stiff anti-cloning laws, we would be on the right track to go after the Raelians, who are the current big cult performing mass murder as they kill the clones who don't measure up!

Further, the liberals need to let us pass anti-cult laws to keep our children out of the clutches of the next big suicide cult to come along!

Seems to me that these laws could be umbrelled in under the precedent of the PATRIOT ACT, as ways to stop murders before they happen, by surveilling groups who are preaching things that may lead to killings!


"No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God."- George H.W. Bush

Suicide cults are good. (none / 0) (#93)
by gordonjcp on Thu Nov 20, 2003 at 06:37:57 AM EST

They get stupid people who blindly follow leaders without asking where they are going out of the gene pool. This is a Good Thing (tm).

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
My Gawwwd you are Pyschotic (none / 0) (#117)
by Gravity Dancer on Sun Nov 23, 2003 at 09:46:27 PM EST

Your "I knew my god was bigger than his. I knew that my god was a real god and his was an idol." Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin" Comment? You think this kind of crap is going to help quell terrorism? He, by the single comment, probably ensured thousands more American deaths in the next few years. Total psycho-brain. I KNOW that people of many faiths just *KNOW* just as well that "their god is a real god and the others are idols" . . . its just how humans are. You are hateful scum.

[ Parent ]
Oh, come ON people. . ! (1.09 / 11) (#67)
by Fantastic Lad on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 05:05:18 PM EST

I didn't realize so many people still believed this story!

When is everybody going to realize that NOTHING the Big Media prints should be taken at face value?

Do some more looking, please, before propagating this kind of marmalade.

Based on everything I've learned, I think it almost certain that Jones was a victim and that the people in Jonestown were murdered by spooks because Jim Jones was a powerful figure who threatened to become a force in politics with the possibility of undermining the status quo.

The spectacular growth of the People's Temple saw Jim Jones emerge as an outspoken, uncompromising foe of U.S. imperialism. Through evangelistic rallies and radio broadcasts Jones addressed literally hundreds of thousands of people in cities all over the United States. In simple, yet forcefull anguage, Jim Jones exposed the smug corruption, the blatant hypocrisy, the abuses, disgraces, and contradictions of American capitalism. The vast congregation of People's Temple helped plan and attended en masse countless demonstrations in support of freedom movements, peace, and human rightscauses around the world.
Here's a fairly well written, and I think more accurate version of the story (from which the above quote was taken), that you might want to consider before throwing your weight behind the big media account. --You can't seriously believe that the media only started slithering like a snake last year when Shrub wanted to take out Iraq!

Please also consider the the MASSIVE emotional buttons which have been programmed into people; read the K5 poster's story again to see just how deep it goes, and how it works. Mind control experts know that people are a growing target; plant the messages when people are young and chances are they will hold on to them for the rest of their lives despite their own logical wiring.

-FL

+1: Funny (2.00 / 3) (#69)
by srn on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 05:16:21 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Yeah, I saw that crap... (none / 0) (#76)
by baron samedi on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 07:13:53 PM EST

What makes you think I'm not familiar with that tripe? Yeah, yeah, yeah. They were all killed by the CIA. What a bunch of hooey.

I can think of a million ways to oppose racism and capitalist exploitation than what these people did.


"Hands that help are better by far than lips that pray."- Robert G. Ingersoll
[ Parent ]

I'm listening. (none / 1) (#83)
by Fantastic Lad on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 10:40:59 PM EST

What a bunch of hooey.

Why is it 'hooey'?

And don't give me a crap-flood. If you're going to judge, you'd better be able to back it up with some firm logic. Oh, and please read the link, because it's painfully obvious from your response that you didn't bother to do that first.

Think before you type. That's the core problem here.

-FL

[ Parent ]

No, I did, and others as well... (none / 0) (#91)
by baron samedi on Thu Nov 20, 2003 at 04:30:07 AM EST

Here's the breakdown:

The site you provide explains how the entire Jonestown experiment was deemed unacceptable by the U.S. government, because somehow, 1100 people in South America living on an agricultural commune that rejected capitalism and racial inequality were so much of a major threat to the entire U.S. system that they had to be eliminated.

And so the CIA came in there, shot all the leaders, and then forced the rest to commit suicide at gunpoint.

Then there's this business about how they were going to move to the USSR to continue their movement, and all this third-hand info about what kinds of weapons they did and didn't have, and how the Russian doctors didn't see any cyanide in their pharmacy. Look, Jones was nuts long before the Jonestown thing happened. People who tried to leave the "church" wound up dead under extremely suspicious circumstances.

Fucking duh. First of all, Jones hired a bunch of AK-toting thugs to police the compound. People who were there all report armed guards in the compound. They left and went home after all this happened. You could probably go down to Guyana and find some of them.

The Jonestown head honchos put on the best face possible to any outsiders visiting their compound. They had the Guyanans completely snowed, so what makes it any different for the Soviets, or the U.S.? What were they going to do? Show them their stockpile of cyanide and say "Well, this is in case the CIA tries to get us?"


"Hands that help are better by far than lips that pray."- Robert G. Ingersoll
[ Parent ]

Humble-Pie and Crow eating time for me! (none / 3) (#94)
by Fantastic Lad on Thu Nov 20, 2003 at 10:07:51 AM EST

I owe you an apology. I'd only read accounts and arguments. But I'd not listened to the infamous tapes.

I found this radio documentary, which was purportedly made from a collection of tapes found at the site of the Jonestown massacre. Apparently, Jones had recorded everything he did or said through the seventies for posterity.

The documentary is certainly a very convincing piece of work. Is it real? Hard to say, and if so, then does it portray the full picture? Again, hard to say.

I will however say that I should have reviewed this information before commenting on your post. I am inclined to think now that I should have given more credence to several nagging doubts.

I tend to "judge the tree by the fruit it bears", and found myself impressed by the fact that Jones had given a great deal of money to charitable organizations in San Francisco. Further, I've personally seen the social dynamics in small communities where powerful figures with good intentions are destroyed through the jealousy of others and through unfair rumor. --And I still do not trust the media.

But I am guilty, however, of NOT listening to two nagging doubts which I think now were foolish to ignore. --The fact that Jones publicly claimed, early on, to be the dual reincarnation of Marx and Christ, and that he did faith healing which he admitted was a sham in order to open people to his real message.

I very much doubt that a real Christ would blow his own horn as such, or far worse, lie to people in order to gain other ends. This leaves only two other possibilities; that Jones was a liar or a delusional liar. It seems that this seed based on false pretenses and possible delusion, are what led eventually into much bigger problems.

It was an error for me to allow my bias against news media and governmental power, which make no mistake, I think is fully justified in many cases, to in this instance cloud my judgement. --And I thank you for providing me with the impetus to review and adjust my knowledge structure.

That is, please accept my apology for my earlier post. I've learned something today!

-FL

[ Parent ]

Oh yeah, one more thing... (none / 0) (#92)
by baron samedi on Thu Nov 20, 2003 at 04:37:40 AM EST

I don't crapflood.
"Hands that help are better by far than lips that pray."- Robert G. Ingersoll
[ Parent ]
You're full of it (3.00 / 5) (#85)
by stodd on Thu Nov 20, 2003 at 12:39:47 AM EST

Of course they were killed by spies. Those spies were of course dispatched by the Illuminati, at the direction of John F. Kennedy (who was still alive at the time.) in order to cover up Jim Jones' knowledge of the plot to kill Elvis.

[ Parent ]
Everybody grab your tinfoil hats! (none / 0) (#89)
by meldroc on Thu Nov 20, 2003 at 03:20:31 AM EST

Wow! Talk about drinking the Kool-aid... O_o

Sorry, I couldn't resist.

[ Parent ]

*****RETRACTION (none / 0) (#111)
by Fantastic Lad on Fri Nov 21, 2003 at 09:09:48 AM EST

I've changed my mind about this subject in a couple of ways since writing the above entry.

Please review all the thread material here before commenting or rating. Those who have already rated in the positive, please reconsider and if so inclined, alter your rating accordingly.

Thanks.

-Fl

[ Parent ]

You are hateful scum (none / 1) (#116)
by Gravity Dancer on Sun Nov 23, 2003 at 09:42:02 PM EST

My mother is one of the survivors of the experience - and was in Jim's "inner circle". Privy to all the practice drills and such. She knew he was about to order something horrible to happen, and escaped before it did. Which is why I even exist! I've heard EVERY DETAIL about the place over the years, and its pretty clear that your views fall in the "complete nutcase" area. Jim's cult was a more obvious example of what we are all experiencing today still - the result of religious fanatics swaying the opinion of the masses. Good luck, you'll need it.

[ Parent ]
NPR Interviews (none / 2) (#70)
by Gailin on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 05:23:00 PM EST

Here is a link to a search result listing that has numerous NPR articles involving the Jonestown massacre. It also includes links to the streaming audio files from the interviews.

G

I lived in Guyana.... (3.00 / 7) (#80)
by m0nkyman on Wed Nov 19, 2003 at 09:04:42 PM EST

I moved there the month after the mass suicide/murder. I lived about two blocks from the Georgetown headquarters of the People's temple. It always gave me the creeps when I walked by it.

My most vivid memory of the whole thing came that winter in early January. We were in the southern part of Guyana, and there was a strike by the workers at the airport. The regular planes were all grounded, but the military offered to fly us back to Georgetown(as a foreign worker, my Dad got some special treatment). The plane we were on was the same military transport plane that they used to take the bodies from Jonestown to Georgetown. The plane still stank of death, and we all got sick to our stomachs from the sitting in the stench for the four hour flight. I was eight years old at the time, and I will never forget that stench.
If I can't dance, then I won't join your revolution-- Emma Goldman

Recently (none / 1) (#106)
by LilDebbie on Thu Nov 20, 2003 at 09:30:57 PM EST

I met this weird homeless guy on the street where I go to school. He had a copy of Time Magazine with him. It was the issue about Jonestown. I have no idea why he had a 25 year old magazine with him, but it was kinda freaky to see the cover - the photo used had pictures of people lying face down, dead, around a fucking cauldron of purple kool-aid or whatever it was they drank.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

Jonestown: Armageddon Writ Small | 118 comments (113 topical, 5 editorial, 4 hidden)
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