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Reactions: Charles Manson dies in prison

Cult+leader+Charles+Manson+in+1969.
Cult leader Charles Manson in 1969.

Cult leader Charles Manson in 1969.

Photo by BBC

Photo by BBC

Cult leader Charles Manson in 1969.

By Lucy Kiefert, Round Table entertainment managing editor

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On Nov. 19, cult leader Charles Manson, who rose to fame in 1969 when convicted of the Tate-Labianca murders, died of natural causes at the age of 83. Though Manson did not technically commit the crimes that his Californian cult gained acclaim for, he continues to be known as one of the most vicious and infamous murderers of all time.

Manson is remembered as utilizing the popular “free love” lifestyle of the late ‘60s while still demonstrating the darker facets of the disenfranchised youth of the time. Moving his group of followers between stretches of desert while preaching stories of “Helter Skelter” race wars and the takedown of the wealthy and famous, Charles Manson’s prominence coincided with a major cultural shift that spilled over into the 1970s and remains a topic focused on by many.

“It’s odd,” says Middletown High School social studies teacher, Jerry Donald. “He’s a celebrity murderer, and probably the most famous celebrity murderer.”

When asked to contemplate the causation behind Manson’s notoriety, Donald and MHS freshman Kadin Fisher point to two different sources, both of which boosted the leader’s twisted power trip.

“During that time period,” says Donald, “the country was in a great deal of turmoil, and Charles Manson seemed to indicate everything that, for some Americans, had been going wrong with the country, and that made him a celebrity.”

Fisher, however, says Manson’s power had to do with the magnitude of admirers he was able to draw. “People probably followed him because they wanted something to fight for,” he says. “He created a focus on people who weren’t rich movie stars.”

The majority of Manson’s cult consisted of young men and women without homes who were hopping between different areas of California and searching for somewhere to belong, eventually finding solace in Manson’s personal dedication, however warped. This companionship fostered a loyalty that ended in fatal outcomes not soon forgotten.

Though Manson has been “out of the public eye for years,” according to Donald, there is still a general consensus that can be reached among the students of MHS.

MHS sophomore Nico DeArcangelis notes the duality of Manson’s violent history. “He was a really bad person, but he did have a cultural impact.”

What this impact seems to be, in MHS senior Kendal Neel’s eyes, is the reminder to “not repeat the past and to be careful of what our actions are,” a thought worth remembering in the weeks following the long-awaited death of Charles Manson.

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