If Bay Area powers-that-be and other journalists at the time had listened to Les Kinsolving's reports about Jones and his temple, maybe those 900-plus lives could have been saved
Eureka Times Standard
March 4, 2005
This is the final preface to the series of eight shocking San Francisco Examiner exposes by my father that, had they been allowed to run in their entirety, would have blasted charlatan Jim Jones out of business. But those miserable Examiner editors, and the rest of the pathetic regional media, didn't have the backbone, so frightened by law suits from Peoples Temple enforcer Tim Stoen (who today they JUST don't care to mention, you'll notice). And so, THEY DID NOTHING. After running only four articles in September 17-20, 1972, and getting picketed by Temple cultists, the Examiner went into a fetal position and surrendered, for almost the next five years.
The sordid details of that scandal have been efficiently covered up until now, by the Examiner and the usual suspects, Tim Reiterman and Marshal Kilduff, who shamelessly attempt little fairy tale rewrites of this into a minor footnote.
If, on the other hand, you'll be watching for the first--or perhaps the second time--the History Channel's "Jonestown: Paradise Lost" docudrama tomorrow night, abandon any hope of having the record set straight there. The same goes for it's accompanying documentary on cults, in "Decoding the Past," which while a superb expose as a whole that puts cult apologists (NRM) on the run, still inexcusably neglects Top Jones Aide Stoen, who was the Co-Engineer of this cult nightmare until finally defecting close to the end. The "Decoding" producers decide instead to allow Kilduff run his twisted little spin on it throughout.
One of the other questions that people should ask directors Nelson and Wolochatiuk is WHY they squelched the story of the crisis over John Stoen, the little boy claimed to be fathered by both Jones and Stoen? What made this so compelling is that it nearly precipitated the mass killing over a year earlier-- "The September, 1977 Crisis."
All this, clearly explained in Debbie Layton's famous affidavit given to the U.S. State Department, now part of the historical record, now a part of the history that is standard to anyone versed in Jonestown history. I understand Nelson censoring it, because he has an apologist agenda to follow. It's easy for him to delude a universe of theatre goers and bloggers with his cinematic sleight of hand.
But Tim Wolochatiuk? The Producers of "Decoding History?"
Why did you do it?
That fun couple, Becky Moore and Mac McGhee, who serve up the grandest fish tales on earth at the "Jonestown Institute," did succeed wonderfully in working over their visitor, "Paradise" director Tim Wolochatiuk. In the end, they made sure he got all the "proper fact balance" he needed. And then there was that curious name--did Becky think that one up, per chance?! As one viewer comments in a Guyana-based blog, "I wonder why the 'Paradise Lost' portion of the title....What about it was 'Paradise'?" though not nearly to the brain-numbing level they achieved with Stanley Nelson. As Mac McGhee proudly boasted to me (with his usual panache):
“…..Would it interest you to know that your main punching bag these days cooperated as much with ‘Paradise Lost’ as we did with Stanley’s film? Check the closing credits, next time it comes round on your TV.
Your whipping boy, Mac."
Fielding M. McGhee III
The Jonestown Institute
At least, however, "Paradise Lost" didn't offer up some grotesque apologist tripe about Jonestown, like the kind you see on these "NRM" websites. Lamentably, however, it did miss the mark, like all the others. But no mind. Now you'll have a chance to "read all about it,"
In this editorial by the Times Standard, they focus on Tim Stoen and his published apology to my father, which first ran in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat (to be posted.) Interesting thing: The Examiner just didn't have any room for such a story!
And, like Orwell's Big Brother hard at work on "fixing history," our "Jonestown" director, Stanley Nelson, too, just didn't have any room for such a story.... Coincidence?? Somebody needs to call Stan, or Mrs. Nelson (his writer, Marcia Smith) and ask them why, don't you think?
The editorial is called:
"After three decades, Assistant District Attorney Tim Stoen wrote a letter of apology to the reporter whose life he helped make miserable in the early 1970s for stories written on the strangely violent and pseudo-messianic happenings at the People's Temple under Jim Jones.
Stoen, as is well known, was a top aide to Jones until about a year before the cult's infamous mass suicide. Before his break with the temple, he and other Jones supporters publicly flayed the reporter and protested the offices of the San Francisco Examiner for his unpopular accounts of the goings-on at the People's Temple.
While perhaps startling, the letter was a thoughtful gesture from Stoen to reporter Les Kinsolving, who had recently suffered a heart attack; Kinsolving released the letter to the press. Meant as a private communication, it seemed heartfelt and expressed a level of regret that Stoen hadn't said publicly over his involvement with the People's Temple.
That made it newsworthy to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, and to this newspaper as well.
But Stoen said he felt the Press Democrat reporter who wrote the story made too much out of something that Stoen said has been consistent all along: he has repented and apologized for his actions with the People's Temple and Jim Jones.
Stoen may not realize that in the letter he admits more wrongdoing than he has in the past; for the second-highest-ranking law enforcement officer in Humboldt County, that by itself makes it a big deal.
Remembering that more than 900 people died as the end result of Jones' ministry makes the letter's importance even more clear.
Since he became right-hand man to DA Paul Gallegos, Stoen has blazed a maverick and sometimes unusual trail of his own, including an odd three-day Senate campaign run and a personal style that has put him at odds with some in the local legal community.
Be that as it may: We applaud Stoen for writing the letter and for making the admissions he did -- it seems to show a mature man making a thoughtful amends for past bad judgments.
We hope the lessons expressed in the letter will not go unlearned: The media can still function as a safeguard for society. If Bay Area powers-that-be and other journalists at the time had listened to Les Kinsolving's reports about Jones and his temple, maybe those 900-plus lives could have been saved."
Surely could have. But weren't. The politicians, clergy, journalists, and others that aided and abetted Jones aren't yet ready to admit to this, or their role. The public needs to confront them. Call Cecil Williams. Send e-mails to Willie AND Jerry Brown and all the rest. Ask them WHY??
Moreover, even worse, are the cult apologists. These people suffer dangerous delusions regarding the parameters of freedom of religion. From flying saucer worshipers to child abusers, it seems everybody's welcome to come on over and join the fruitcake express train, "New Religious Movements"(NRM). Charter members include Becky Moore, Catherine Wessinger, Eileen Barker, Douglas Cowan, John Hall, and, easily the two most bizarre, J. Gordon Melton & Massimo Introvigne--who have a very strong affinity for vampires (Melton described one of their vampire society conventions as "a bunch of silly people dressing up and biting each other on the neck.")
Drop in on the next annual "CESNUR" (Center for Studies of New Religions) conference--last year's was held in San Diego--but you might want to take a couple of garlic cloves to ward off the attending vampires. (Some of the attendees went on "field trips" to pay their respects to the flying saucer worshipers and the 12 Tribes cult, a "family-oriented" bunch that preaches the benefits of child abuse.)
And San Diego Union-Tribune reporter Sandi Dolbee, who is assigned to cover the "religion and ethics" beat, just missed all that. She did, however, do a splendid job of whitewashing the 25th Anniversary of Jonestown, when she provided Becky Moore a Cult Apologist Sermon in her story. Moreover, at this CESNUR conference, Dolbee gave all these "scholars" free reign to cheer on the extravaganza's opening film, which was, but of course: Nelson's "Jonestown."
With this kind of "ethical" coverage, it makes one wonder if perhaps its time to move Dolbee to a different beat. Has she become "one of them"??
It's astounding the ease in which these so-called "scholars" make fabrications about the People's Temple. Interestingly enough, again, Nelson's choice of a "scholar" for his film, besides featuring Moore (sister of two of Jones's enforcers), was John Hall, of U.C. Davis, who publishes outrageous papers condoning the Temple's excesses and abuses (this is the cult that also tortured children as young as five, recall.)
Uncanny how Nelson was so hardpressed to find ANYONE with a contrasting view, say, that had experience with the cult in its "glory days" in Redwood valley, when they were happily picking crops, and singing, hugging, laughing, and "sharing lots of love," according to our director.
He could have interviewed Norman Clow, now living in Houston, who lived in Redwood Valley at the time and attended school with some of these cult captives. Norman wrote to me, shortly after reading the Stoen apology story over the Associated Press wire (made the AP, so the story went as far as Australia, ladies and gentlemen--yet, still NO ROOM FOR IT IN EITHER OF THOSE SPINELESS SAN FRANCISCO NEWSPAPERS....).
"Jim Jones taught in our schools in Anderson Valley in the 60's (Boonville, west of Ukiah/Redwood Valley) and in fall 1967 he brought a dozen or so Temple students to our high school. Three were in my senior class and two of them died (Anita Ijames and Judy Stahl-Ijames). One, Faith Worley-Kice, left before the move.
Dale Parks, who was one of the defectors during Ryan's visit and whose mother was killed at the airstrip was a friend for that year. We were good friends, as much as possible under the circumstances. I saw Dale in Ukiah a year later and he was "recovering". I met his dad, who I don't believe ever would. Ava Cobb was another great friend. Her brother Jim, who I knew, was one of the ones pushing for the investigation.
I always understood that she had left the movement with her brother but recently saw her name and a picture - could have been here - in a list of those who died. I know many of her family members did die there. I hope she didn't. They were all good kids, fun to be around even given their unhappiness over the Temple, and none of them deserved any of it.
I believe Jones was a madman practically from the day he was born. Many of us kids at the school thought the guy was a little wierd and maybe even dangerous in the 60's, but no one would listen, certainly not the school authorities.
You could tell the students he brought to the school were very uneasy, just always intimating some fear or regrets about their situation. But you couldn't get past a certain point with them - they still deferred to that loyalty he had built in them, called him Father, and there was an invisible wall that kept you always a certain unassailable length away.
Of course you realize Tim Stoen went back to Mendocino County as an assistant DA and is now in that capacity in Eureka, Humboldt County. He has publicly apologized several times for his involvement, recently admitting it was a terrible mistake and asking forgiveness. Fine, but I'd still just as soon not have him as the local DA.
As a lay pastor of the rare conservative stripe in the United Methodist Church, I often wonder what on earth was going on in the eyes of the various churches back then.
Your dad was a very brave man to do what he did. Many of us knew he was right all along and we all owe him a debt of gratitude for the part he played in getting all of this out. Thank him for me."
Now let's say we climb into that time machine and travel back to a misty Sunday morning. .....We've....arrived. There's still time. It's September 17th, 1972...San Francisco. A foghorn softly booms. There's a headline up ahead, in that Sunday edition newspaper:
"THE PROPHET WHO RAISES THE DEAD"
by Rev. Lester Kinsolving
Examiner Religion Writer
(TO BE CONTINUED...)