The Summer of Love Breeds a Season of Hate:
The Effects of the Manson Murders on Public Perceptions of the Hippie Lifestyle
by Curt Rowlett
At the time of this writing, interesting recent press coverage hearkens back to two of 1969s most notorious events.
The first story concerns the new search for possible Manson family murder victims long rumored to have been buried in the desert near Manson’s old hideout at Barker Ranch in California’s Death Valley. This theory of unknown murder victims stems from a statement attributed to Manson family member Susan Atkins, who allegedly told a fellow inmate she was incarcerated with that there were "three people out in the desert that they done in," referring to other possible victims during the Manson family’s spree of killings during the summer of 1969. As reported by the press, a team of forensic scientists have traveled recently to Barker Ranch and used cadaver dogs, ground penetrating radar and other equipment in an attempt to locate these possible victims. According to the report, the scientists located “three large areas of interest.”
The story second concerns a BBC News report that details the revelation from the FBI’s own files that the Hell’s Angels may have actually tried to assassinate Mick Jagger at his rented home in Long Island, New York in retaliation for Jagger’s comments following the disastrous concert at Altamont in late 1969. The murder attempt supposedly failed after the boat carrying the would-be assassins foundered during a storm, almost drowning them.
That these two stories continue to resonate in modern times in not such a surprise. The article below discusses the detrimental effects that the Manson murders, the ill-fated concert at Altamont, and numerous other crimes that the press of the day dubbed “hippie murders,” had on the hippie image.
Note: Curt Rowlett is a researcher and writer with a penchant for the mystical, mysterious, and macabre.He is also: a serious student of the paranormal and unexplained, a former merchant marine who has traveled all over the world, an ex-rock musician, and an old-fashioned, southern gentleman. His work has appeared in the books Popular Paranoia, Labyrinth13: True Tales of the Occult, Crime & Conspiracy, and the magazines Fortean Times, Paranoia Magazine, Steamshovel Press and Strange Magazine. Labyrinth13: True Tales of the Occult, Crime & Conspiracy is available at Lulu.com:
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Curt’s website can be reached at:
“You play the game of money. As long as you can sell a newspaper, some sensationalism, and you can laugh at someone and joke at someone and look down at someone, you know. You just sell those newspapers for public opinion, just like you are all hung on public opinion, and none of you have any idea what you are doing. You are just doing what you are doing for the money, for a little bit of attention from someone.”
Statement made by Charles Manson, while testifying at the Tate-LaBianca murder trial
“This will be remembered as the first of the acid murders . . . we’re on the brink of a whole new concept of violence . . . perpetrated against society by people who have reached a different plateau of reality through LSD.”
Statement made by Manson family attorney Paul Fitzgerald, while discussing the Tate-LaBianca murders with the press
“Acid is groovy, kill the pigs.”
Words allegedly chanted by hippie thrill killers during the 1970 bludgeoning and stabbing murders of the Jeffrey MacDonald family
In much the same way as the “satanic panic” hit in the 1980’s, a wave of “hippie cult hysteria” flourished in the wake of the 1969 Manson murders. Subsequently, public perceptions of the hippies as a non-violent, peace-loving subculture began to shift dramatically.
Many hippies who were involved in the original “counterculture” during that time period had stories to tell about negative fallout from a public who had begun to associate the hippie lifestyle with a series of horrifyingly violent, drug-induced crimes that occurred across America toward the end of the 1960’s. As a result, the Manson murders, being only the first to be so publicized, later became linked to a greater cultural fear aided by numerous shocking and widely reported similar crimes. (Along with the Manson case, there were many other grisly and highly publicized murders and other crimes that had either been committed by or linked in the public mind to “hippie” elements or to so-called “drug crazed cultists” living in communal settings).
These events, played for full sensational effect in the media, would occur within such short time frames from each other that for awhile, the public was literally bombarded with a shocking portrait of the hippie community, one that shifted from the old view of hippies as the epitome of passive gentleness into a new, frighteningly savage image.
The fallout was swift and all-encompassing. And in much the same vein, this media-constructed image of the drug-crazed, murderous hippie was no different than the way veterans returning from the Vietnam War would also be stereotyped in the mid-1970’s, both by the press and Hollywood. That exploitation included fostering the image of Vietnam vets as war-traumatized, unstable individuals, likely to snap and go on a violent rampage at any given moment. (I can recall only too well how many television programs and B-movies of that era exploited not only the image of Vietnam vets, but also by catering to public fears about such things as roving bands of “psychopathic” biker gangs, angry black power “militants” with guns, and of course, exploitation films about sex-crazed, blood-thirsty hippies living in spaced-out drug communes)….
The rest of this article is available at steamshovelpress.com.