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Friday, December 28, 2007

Grieving Relative of Jonestown Victim Wants Those Responsible To "Pay For Their Treacherous Ways"


Of all the Big Media, the most noxious right-wing ideologues are those talking blockheads at "Faux" News. After their amazing partisan performance in 2000's Presidential Installment Circus, there was absolutely no doubting it: Rupert Murdoch's raging Republican mouthpiece had won the crown as The American BBC ("Bush Broadcasting Corporation".)

Such is--in the words of that supreme faux, Blathering Bill O'Reilly--the talking point of the above portrait of an ersatz "Live" report of the massacre taking place on their watch.

Sensational, false, and harmful; this is the "entertainment/ratings at ANY COST" nature of news that so much of our mainstream media has degenerated today. But the past, it turned out, was merely the calm before this storm. At that time, the problem was too often lazy, slipshod, or sleeping-on-the-job journalism. All of this helped produce Jonestown, a tragedy of epic proportions, the accountability (of silence) from which nearly all these media groups run.

But leave it to Fox News to be probably the only Big Media group to actually offer any coverage on the 29th anniversary this year. Of course, they stuck to the typical formula glimpse at the People's Temple cult. Their "Line Up" show host asked Jonestown survivor Thom Bogue about the "changes in Jim Jones", which he might have noticed "in Guyana".

In Guyana?? So, in other words, St. James really actually wasn't all that bad in those years preceding his escape to Guyana in 1977? Interesting, how easily Big Media has developed amnesia over Jones's fraud, extortion, unsolved killings, and child torture that went on all those years in California. They're real adept, though, when it comes to hammering politicians running away from other large and small private & public scandals, aren't they?

Bogue did manage to tell Fox about the "punishments" at Jonestown, which he said became "more intense" (which should have prompted the reporter to ask about all the others in the past.) He talked about what the cult called the "Green Eyed Monster", an electro-shock treatment machine used to torture children, one of which was as young as four years.

Too bad Fox lacked the integrity to ask about the "Blue Eyed Monster" torture, a ghastly practice carried out on the cult's children during its California years. This one involved sending terrified small children into dark rooms, where Jones's thugs would convulse them with cattle prods. No, reporters like Marshall Kilduff and others were too busy pursuing Jones "early and often" at City Hall to be bothered with such "unsubstantiated" matters.

This, then, is the first of the Top Ten Talking Points to present in the spirit of the ritual end-of-the-year round up. But there's something very important that belongs with with Point #10.

It is an appeal for the still long overdue accountability. By someone who understandably still suffers for the terrible, senseless loss of her loved one at Jonestown. For others, it might be two, five, or even twenty-five lost relatives.

While I don't agree with everything Lela Howard says in this letter sent to my father last November, there is much that touches me, much that rings true. Yes, there were many well-meaning people that were a part of People's Temple, that were lured in by Jim Jones's call for "spiritual redemption" and "social justice." Many of them, I'm sure, did not outright participate in the crimes ordered by Jones's little politburo, but rather were victims of it.

Victims of thought reform. Mind control. Brain washing. Call it what you will. Cult apologists like Becky Moore and Mac McGhee desperately want to dismiss this, by perverting reality and revising history. They won't succeed.

The Greek statesman Demosthenes once said: "Nothing is easier than self-deceit. For what each man wishes, that he also believes to be true."

Here, then, is the voice of one of the many, many grieving. She'd like, among other things, to confront all those that aided and abetted Jim Jones while he marched over 900 men, women, and children into the hell of cult captivity, and slaughter.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Mr Les Kinsolving:

My aunt died that horrible day in Jonestown and last year I found her picture on the 'Who Died' list on Mac and Becky's website. They have allowed me to voice my thoughts about growing up listening to the awful comments about my aunt, which no other format exists to do so. I decided to contact you after reading your son's blog, speaking harshly about them. The frown on my face won't disappear until I hit the send button. I can't understand how or why the good they've done is being twisted.

I am not contacting you to debate, but simply to be a voice for my aunt. She did not deserve to die. Her name does not deserve to be defined as one of those 'drinking the Kool-aide' crazy people.

Yes, there are many who should step forward and explain their roles in the deaths, but as you know, that's not going to happen. Yes, I would like to know the names of those responsible. Yes, I would like to confront them and ask 'Why?' Yes, I would like them to pay for their treacherous ways.

But most important to me is to let the world(i.e., you, your son, the media,
educators, etc.) know that Mary Pearl Willis was my aunt. She deserves to be here today living her life, having Sunday dinners with her family, getting old and gray.

Unfortunately, she lays six feet under a sealed lead casket, identified as 'Body #71-E and a Member of the People's Temple' by the State Department. Her identity has has been taken from her and it is used to take jabs at others, not giving thought to how her family feels as we approach another year marking the day she ascended into heaven.

Why not write about how survivors and families have been made to feel ashamed? How we've been treated as their lives didn't matter? Forced to see biased movies, showing our loved ones as anything other than human? Stanley and Tim's movies are the closest it comes to showing them as individuals, see it from that point of view. I can't make you do it, but for one moment think how good it felt to see a project showing my aunt as a human being and not a robot.

If you or your son are willing to hear a different perspective, contact me. I would love to end the 'Hatfields vs. McCoys' type of blogging and explain how it feels to not have the massacre taught in schools as a part of history. Personally, I have contacted schools asking to have it added and will continue to pursue this until it's done.

Every interview I've given before the cameras roll, I make the reporters promise not to say 'suicide,' because it was murder! The latest projects are the first to show that, don't you think that's great? It's educating people about facts, instead of the spoon-fed fiction for nearly 30 years. With your voice, help educate, getting the facts out about that horrible day.

How much longer can fingers be pointed? Let's get on the same page. You've called out the ones who did wrong--now let's talk about getting the media to spread the truth.

Sincerely,

Lela Howard



Agreed, Lela: Let those responsible for backing Jim Jones step forward and face the music. If they don't, then we'll just give 'em a bugle blast warning and charge right in. I understand the part about Stanley Nelson's film humanizing the members of the Temple, which it certainly does and should. The problem with Nelson is his appalling dishonesty in telling the WHOLE story of the People's Temple. He deliberately rearranged, embellished, and outright deleted so many facts that it devolved into an insidious patchwork of cult apologist half-truths.

Of course, it surely exceeded the wildest dreams of our friends at the "Jonestown Institute", didn't it, Mac and Becky??

Okay, okay....you can stop applauding now.

In the next post, the year's Talking Point #9 will feature the exclusive story told of a former cult member who'll describe what it was like to be a child in the People's Temple during its Redwood Valley, California years, a time where Nelson was quoted claiming the Temple "shared a lot of love."

A "lot of love"? More importantly for this boy, and his sisters, was the probability that cult operatives had murdered his mother.

Now try and guess just exactly how much screen time Scrupulous Stanley offered for this little tidbit of background on that "loving, activist" period of Rev. Jones's Apostolic Socialist Experiment.

Stay tuned.

4 comments:

Robin Shelley said...

I'm going to assume that your next article is about the murder of Maxine Harpe. I don't know her children but I do know other members of her family - wonderful, loving, quiet people who have experienced the "shame" Lela talks about in her letter but, even worse to my way of thinking, is how badly Mendocino Co. let this innocent & deserving family down. This is one story that clearly illustrates the powerful influence Jones, Tim Stoen & their people had at just about all levels of county government at that time.

Tom Kinsolving said...

Absolutely, Robin, on all counts. And this, unquestionably, is the very reason WHY the "powers-that-be" (media, government, clergy) want to keep a lid on the real story of how they either outright supported or simply did NOTHING while Jones ran his criminal enterprise.
One day, the public just won't be satisfied with facades such as slick apologist propaganda films and shameless wonders, like San Francisco's Cecil Williams and those Mendocino County officials, will have nowhere else to hide.
Truth, as they say, is often painful--and takes time to sink in.

Rose said...

I hope she sent a similar letter to your Mac and Becky.

The full story should certainly be told. And people should indeed be held accountable (though it is a little too late); people like Tim Stoen should not be allowed to continue to be able to practice law, much less serve as an Assistant District Attorney anywhere in this nation.

Tom Kinsolving said...

Surely. Isn't it understood when someone is granted the power to practice law, that he or she is accountable for violation of a defined set of ethics? I guess, though, Tim Stoen really believes he's exempt from such criteria, even with the horrendous role he played in turbo-charging Jim Jones to power. Crime of the Century erupts, and then Timmy can just go run along (like the rest of the former "Friends of Jim") and return to the very same Mendocino County Asst. D.A. office he worked while overseeing a welfare fraud racket and pondering a murder plan for a reporter.
Where was any contrition mentioned for THAT in his official apology to my father?