#1  
Old 11-17-2018, 03:30 PM
dalej42 dalej42 is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Chicago
Posts: 13,436
40th anniversary of Jonestown tragedy

I’m sure many of us have seen the movie, but this article really hits home about how awful Jonestown was.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/20...e_iOSApp_Other

In college orientation, we had an cult awareness presentation among the many presentations we were required to attend. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but I’m glad it was required.
  #2  
Old 11-17-2018, 04:32 PM
Stuntman Mike's Avatar
Stuntman Mike Stuntman Mike is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 78
Jim Jones is by far the most fascinating American mass murderer of all time.

Last edited by Stuntman Mike; 11-17-2018 at 04:35 PM.
  #3  
Old 11-17-2018, 07:51 PM
Loach's Avatar
Loach Loach is offline
The Central Scrutinizer
Moderator
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Pork Roll/Taylor Ham
Posts: 24,557
My old boss was stationed in Panama at the time and was one of those tasked to go down and recover the bodies. As a fellow soldier I think I was the only one at work he mentioned it to and he didn't say much. It was obvious it haunted him.
  #4  
Old 11-17-2018, 09:25 PM
PastTense PastTense is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 7,001
I was surprised that 70% of the victims were Black:
https://jonestown.sdsu.edu/?page_id=70495
  #5  
Old 11-18-2018, 08:16 AM
JKellyMap's Avatar
JKellyMap JKellyMap is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 9,099
Wow...a lot of important material at that website. Most of it is directly about soecific victims and survivors, but I also recommend this recent essay by a Caltech grad reflecting on the tragedy and linking it to his own hazing experience (and to the current US political climate): https://jonestown.sdsu.edu/?page_id=81378

A few years ago, I read an excellent biography of the 1850s anti-slavery activist John Brown. For me the paradox of Jonestown is embodied in how it both resembled Brown’s utopian community in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State — a (failed) agricultural project in the wilderness, with blacks and whites living and working together as equals, astoundingly radical for its time — AND it resembled an antebellum Southern US plantation, the very system that Brown was fighting so hard to abolish.

This latter resemblance was noted in an article in that website — yes, Jonestown was generally color-blind, and its attraction to African American women in particular was understandable — BUT whites were mainly in charge of things, and the rule against anyone leaving (black or white, that’s true) was reminiscent of slavery.
  #6  
Old 11-18-2018, 08:30 AM
MortSahlFan MortSahlFan is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: US
Posts: 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stuntman Mike View Post
Jim Jones is by far the most fascinating American mass murderer of all time.
Not Ted Kaczynski?
  #7  
Old 11-18-2018, 10:14 AM
John Mace's Avatar
John Mace John Mace is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: South Bay
Posts: 85,197
Quote:
Originally Posted by PastTense View Post
I was surprised that 70% of the victims were Black:
https://jonestown.sdsu.edu/?page_id=70495
Jim Jones started his cult in Indianapolis, among the poor. At the time, that city was highly segregated and he was a "champion" of integration and civil rights for blacks. The Jonestown tragedy happened in the late 70s, but he was at it from back in the 50s.

Last edited by John Mace; 11-18-2018 at 10:16 AM.
  #8  
Old 11-18-2018, 10:35 AM
Jonathan Chance Jonathan Chance is offline
Domo Arigato Mister Moderato
Moderator
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: On the run with Kilroy
Posts: 21,902
It also gave us the DC phrase - now in wider parlance - 'drinking the kool aid'.

Though, I'll admit that never quite sat right with me. Even beyond minimizing the tragedy, the phrase in DC speak means 'deciding to believe deeply' and not 'killing oneself for the cause'. It's inaccurate and it bugs me.
  #9  
Old 11-18-2018, 11:09 AM
Ulf the Unwashed Ulf the Unwashed is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 3,134
Also I believe it was Flavorade rather than Koolaid.

I was in college when the news broke. Couple days later some guy became briefly famous on campus for advertising and holding a Koolaid party in his dorm room.
  #10  
Old 11-18-2018, 12:34 PM
Two Many Cats Two Many Cats is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Chicago
Posts: 4,091
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Chance View Post
It also gave us the DC phrase - now in wider parlance - 'drinking the kool aid'.

Though, I'll admit that never quite sat right with me. Even beyond minimizing the tragedy, the phrase in DC speak means 'deciding to believe deeply' and not 'killing oneself for the cause'. It's inaccurate and it bugs me.
DC has it wrong then. Drinking the Koolaid means believing nonsense to one's own detriment, usually under an outside influence.
An example might be participating in a multi-level marketing scheme, or sticking with an abusive spouse because of their promises to reform.

Last edited by Two Many Cats; 11-18-2018 at 12:36 PM.
  #11  
Old 11-18-2018, 02:17 PM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: The snow is back.
Posts: 27,656
What is "DC speak"?
  #12  
Old 11-18-2018, 02:31 PM
IvoryTowerDenizen's Avatar
IvoryTowerDenizen IvoryTowerDenizen is offline
Nope! I said stop!
Moderator
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: North Shore of LI
Posts: 19,224
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Chance View Post
It also gave us the DC phrase - now in wider parlance - 'drinking the kool aid'.



Though, I'll admit that never quite sat right with me. Even beyond minimizing the tragedy, the phrase in DC speak means 'deciding to believe deeply' and not 'killing oneself for the cause'. It's inaccurate and it bugs me.


I never heard it to mean just believing deeply, but believing so deeply that critical thinking left the room. Brainwashed of sorts.
  #13  
Old 11-18-2018, 02:36 PM
JKellyMap's Avatar
JKellyMap JKellyMap is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 9,099
I noticed something interesting in the transcript of the infamous “death tape” (cassette recording just as the murder/suicide was about to start and then started):

Jim Jones cleverly played the “race card” to help convince the followers to get going with the dying — addressing an African American female follower, but also everyone in the room, he pointed out how the handful of “defectors” that had fled the village a few hours before were mostly white — “did you see how those white folks abandoned you/us to your/our fate?” (i.e., to be killed or enslaved by the coming enemies, rather than on our own terms).

Last edited by JKellyMap; 11-18-2018 at 02:39 PM.
  #14  
Old 11-18-2018, 04:05 PM
PastTense PastTense is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 7,001
Quote:
Originally Posted by Northern Piper View Post
What is "DC speak"?
Quote:
You know a native New Yorker when you hear one, but what about someone who grew up in [Washington] D.C.? Researchers say the city does have its own language, and a study of it is ongoing.

D.C. native and WTOP commentator Clinton Yates says there are three unique words in particular that people who grew up in the city use. The first is “bama,” a name for a person who is unstylish or unsophisticated. “The word ‘jont,’ which means pretty much anything you want it to — it’s a catchall word. And then ‘cised,’ which means ‘excited.’ It’s more synonymous with the word ‘psyched,'” said Yates.
https://wtop.com/news/2014/03/real-l...-dc-get-cised/

Last edited by PastTense; 11-18-2018 at 04:05 PM.
  #15  
Old 11-18-2018, 04:16 PM
Stuntman Mike's Avatar
Stuntman Mike Stuntman Mike is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by MortSahlFan View Post
Not Ted Kaczynski?
We could probably do a whole separate thread on prolific mass murderers, but for my money the psychology of both Jim Jones, and his legion of followers, is endlessly fascinating.
  #16  
Old 11-18-2018, 05:50 PM
ThelmaLou's Avatar
ThelmaLou ThelmaLou is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Neither here nor there
Posts: 14,389
I can't believe that was 40 years ago.

I saw a documentary about Jim Jones some years after it happened. I don't remember it clearly, but one thing really stuck out to me. Early in his public life, he was very attractive, and you could see it in the films. I don't mean good-looking exactly, but he had a lot of appeal and charisma. His face was radiant and friendly. At some point, I just remember seeing a change--his eyes had become dead and his facial expression flat. And then he started wearing the dark glasses all the time.

That change from a radiant, open face to the flat, dead face-- I swear it made you believe in people selling their souls to the devil.

I haven't looked for that film. but I have looked through many pictures of him on google, searching for that change in his face.
__________________
Barely good enough to do the job most of the time. (Thanks, guestchaz.)
  #17  
Old 11-18-2018, 06:52 PM
monstro monstro is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Richmond, VA
Posts: 19,795
Severaly years ago, I watched an old PBS documentary about the Jim Jones massacre and enjoyed it so much that I taped it so I could watch it again while my parents were visiting.

The first half of the documentary focused on Jim Jones's early history and his preaching. There was a lot of footage from his sermons, showing how easy he could whip the congregation up into a frenzy. While the footage played, my mother was nodding her head over in the amen corner of my living room couch like she was just seconds from catching the Holy Ghost. Even I was captivated by his message.

It dawned on me that I could totally see my parents dragging my siblings and me down to Guyana. I have no doubt in my mind we would have attended that church if we had lived in San Francisco. My parents would have been down for the racial and class utopia that Jim Jones was talking about. The documentary made me realize that none of us are immune to being taken by a charismatic con man. Those poor people weren't idiots. They weren't fools. They just succumbed to the very human tendency to go in for the penny, in for the pound. The audio footage of the woman questioning the righteousness of killing themselves as everyone's dying around her will always haunt me.
  #18  
Old 11-18-2018, 08:44 PM
snowthx's Avatar
snowthx snowthx is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Sacratomato area
Posts: 3,195
A childhood friend of mine and his family went to Jonestown and all died there. The story my father tells is that our families were friends and spent time together in the early-mid 70s in southern CA. The parents became increasingly distant and spent a lot of weekends going to San Francisco, and not really telling us what was going on. Eventually, they sold everything they owned and moved to San Francisco, giving everything to the People's Temple. I cannot imagine what the conversation was like between my friend and his parents that day. My parents were very angry with them when the news of the horror became known, knowing that the kids were gone.

The website above (the sdsu link) has a wealth of information and portrays victims as real people with regular lives before getting pulled into the cult and being part of the tragedy.
  #19  
Old 11-18-2018, 09:08 PM
ThelmaLou's Avatar
ThelmaLou ThelmaLou is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Neither here nor there
Posts: 14,389
Quote:
Originally Posted by snowthx View Post
A childhood friend of mine and his family went to Jonestown and all died there. ....
Oh my goodness. I am so sorry.
__________________
Barely good enough to do the job most of the time. (Thanks, guestchaz.)
  #20  
Old 11-18-2018, 10:08 PM
JKellyMap's Avatar
JKellyMap JKellyMap is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 9,099
Wow, snowthx, thank you for sharing that.

Somewhere in that website, someone makes the point that the flipside of “how could they kill their children?” is, well, once the dying started, “how could they cruelly let just one or a few survive?”. A reasonable point, I suppose, maybe.
  #21  
Old 11-18-2018, 11:28 PM
Gatopescado's Avatar
Gatopescado Gatopescado is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: on your last raw nerve
Posts: 20,675
I DVR'd the show that Sundance was running this week.
  #22  
Old 11-19-2018, 12:47 AM
Smapti Smapti is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Olympia, WA
Posts: 15,371
As an aside question; how well was Jones known to the general public before Jonestown?

The whole sad affair happened before my time, but reading about it, it seems like he was known and respected enough in liberal circles in San Francisco to the extent that people like Feinstein and Mondale and Jerry Brown and George Moscone and Rosalynn Carter associated with him. Would someone outside San Francisco have known his name if they saw it in the paper, or would he have been little more than an Alex Jones type?

Last edited by Smapti; 11-19-2018 at 12:48 AM.
  #23  
Old 11-19-2018, 01:58 AM
nearwildheaven nearwildheaven is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 11,375
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThelmaLou View Post
I can't believe that was 40 years ago.

I saw a documentary about Jim Jones some years after it happened. I don't remember it clearly, but one thing really stuck out to me. Early in his public life, he was very attractive, and you could see it in the films. I don't mean good-looking exactly, but he had a lot of appeal and charisma. His face was radiant and friendly. At some point, I just remember seeing a change--his eyes had become dead and his facial expression flat. And then he started wearing the dark glasses all the time.

That change from a radiant, open face to the flat, dead face-- I swear it made you believe in people selling their souls to the devil.

I haven't looked for that film. but I have looked through many pictures of him on google, searching for that change in his face.
He also became addicted to drugs, mostly amphetamines, and his sexual preferences seemed to switch over time from women to men. Some people have wondered if his paranoia and other behavioral changes towards the end of his life may have been due to AIDS, which hadn't been identified yet but do remember that he was engaging in promiscuous sex with other men in the San Francisco area. (I vaguely recall starting a thread about this a while back.) Of course, there's no way to know that now.

This very interesting book goes into considerable detail about Jones' life, from start to finish.

https://www.amazon.com/Road-Jonestow...rds=jeff+guinn

I was in 10th grade when it happened, and it didn't make as big an impression on me as it might have if it had when I was a few years older.
  #24  
Old 11-19-2018, 02:01 AM
nearwildheaven nearwildheaven is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 11,375
Found that thread.

https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb...d.php?t=827079
  #25  
Old 11-19-2018, 02:04 AM
nearwildheaven nearwildheaven is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 11,375
Quote:
Originally Posted by snowthx View Post
A childhood friend of mine and his family went to Jonestown and all died there. The story my father tells is that our families were friends and spent time together in the early-mid 70s in southern CA. The parents became increasingly distant and spent a lot of weekends going to San Francisco, and not really telling us what was going on. Eventually, they sold everything they owned and moved to San Francisco, giving everything to the People's Temple. I cannot imagine what the conversation was like between my friend and his parents that day. My parents were very angry with them when the news of the horror became known, knowing that the kids were gone.

The website above (the sdsu link) has a wealth of information and portrays victims as real people with regular lives before getting pulled into the cult and being part of the tragedy.
IIRC, that book told stories about people who did leave the cult before they went to Guyana, or even when they were still in Indiana. It wasn't as hard to leave as, say Scientology, but when you're living in an isolated group facility with no money or transportation, where and how do you start over?
  #26  
Old 11-19-2018, 10:01 AM
Annie-Xmas Annie-Xmas is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 50,184
Powers Boothe in the made for TV movie Guayna Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones is positively frightening , and deservedly won an Emmy.

And let's not forget the innocent victims, Leo Ryan who died, and the others who were shot. That is the real tragedy.

Last edited by Annie-Xmas; 11-19-2018 at 10:02 AM.
  #27  
Old 11-19-2018, 12:03 PM
JKellyMap's Avatar
JKellyMap JKellyMap is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 9,099
Quote:
Originally Posted by Annie-Xmas View Post
Powers Boothe in the made for TV movie Guayna Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones is positively frightening , and deservedly won an Emmy.
Can't have a scary-monsters-out-to-get-you movie without Veronica Cartwright!
  #28  
Old 11-19-2018, 07:32 PM
Ulf the Unwashed Ulf the Unwashed is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 3,134
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smapti View Post
As an aside question; how well was Jones known to the general public before Jonestown?

The whole sad affair happened before my time, but reading about it, it seems like he was known and respected enough in liberal circles in San Francisco to the extent that people like Feinstein and Mondale and Jerry Brown and George Moscone and Rosalynn Carter associated with him. Would someone outside San Francisco have known his name if they saw it in the paper, or would he have been little more than an Alex Jones type?
I can only speak for myself, and I was only a college student on the other side of the country from CA...but I’d never heard of him.
  #29  
Old 11-20-2018, 01:48 AM
China Guy China Guy is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Pacific Northwest
Posts: 11,395
Sheesh, I remember it. Senior in high school in northern California. A Congressman got killed in the whole shebang. The People's Temple was a venue for hardcore punk concerts in the very early 1980's (IIRC it was near Japan town, and near the Filmore West (aka the Elite Club) in the old Filmore District of San Francisco
  #30  
Old 11-20-2018, 01:56 AM
Gatopescado's Avatar
Gatopescado Gatopescado is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: on your last raw nerve
Posts: 20,675
Yeah, it was big news where I grew up, too. We used to get about 5 channels on TV. One of them was KTVU (Oakland, I think).

My mom was a big fan of that channel back then.
  #31  
Old 11-20-2018, 05:25 AM
UltraVires UltraVires is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Bridgeport, WV, US
Posts: 14,113
The Sundance Channel recently had a documentary (it could have been old, I'm not sure) but Jim Jones looked like the typical kooky preacher from across town that "regular" people would not want to belong to his church but those "religious fanatics" did.

At some point, and I couldn't tell when, he became absolutely insane.

What got me is that at Jonestown, Leo Ryan could have been his saving grace. They had nearly a thousand people and the ability to only properly feed near five hundred. This got the populace upset and starting to (very silently) grumble, which caused Jones to impose harsher labor and punishments to quell the uprising.

Ryan gave him the perfect out. Allow everyone who wanted to leave, just go ahead and leave, then have more food and be less brutal; all the while talking smack on those who left and continuing to be worshiped as a god.

Last edited by UltraVires; 11-20-2018 at 05:25 AM.
  #32  
Old 11-20-2018, 06:00 AM
nightshadea nightshadea is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: a condo in hell 10th lvl
Posts: 3,854
some people still say between him and manson they killed off a lot of the positives of the 60s...…...
  #33  
Old 11-20-2018, 07:44 AM
ThelmaLou's Avatar
ThelmaLou ThelmaLou is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Neither here nor there
Posts: 14,389
Quote:
Originally Posted by nightshadea View Post
some people still say between him and manson they killed off a lot of the positives of the 60s...…...
Manson yes, but I don't associate Jonestown with anything having to do with the 60s.
__________________
Barely good enough to do the job most of the time. (Thanks, guestchaz.)
  #34  
Old 11-20-2018, 07:48 AM
JKellyMap's Avatar
JKellyMap JKellyMap is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 9,099
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThelmaLou View Post
Manson yes, but I don't associate Jonestown with anything having to do with the 60s.
I see his/her point. Jim Jones’ putting into practice interracial cooperation, starting just as the sixties were ending, and eventually founding a rural utopian community...Heck, the pre-tragedy Jonestown photos look like Sly and the Family Stone album covers.

Last edited by JKellyMap; 11-20-2018 at 07:50 AM.
  #35  
Old 11-20-2018, 10:50 AM
TRC4941 TRC4941 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: NE Minnesota
Posts: 829
I was a teenager at the time. I remember the headlines, but never really paid that much attention to it. Now that I'm seeing clips and stories from back then, I realize that I really didn't know anything about it other than the whole kool-aid thing. I need to learn more about it.
  #36  
Old 11-20-2018, 01:11 PM
Hypno-Toad Hypno-Toad is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: By the Caloosahatchee
Posts: 11,615
Where did Jones get all the poison? Having enough cyanide on hand to kill all 900+ on the spur of the moment seems unlikely. So he must have planned for such a situation at least early enough to acquire sufficient quantities of cyanide.
__________________
This is my signature. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

Last edited by Hypno-Toad; 11-20-2018 at 01:12 PM.
  #37  
Old 11-20-2018, 01:44 PM
JKellyMap's Avatar
JKellyMap JKellyMap is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 9,099
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hypno-Toad View Post
Where did Jones get all the poison? Having enough cyanide on hand to kill all 900+ on the spur of the moment seems unlikely. So he must have planned for such a situation at least early enough to acquire sufficient quantities of cyanide.
Soon after the Jonestown "pioneers" started to build the vlllage, someone acquired a license to purchase cyanide, supposedly to purify mined gold. They then purchased a little at a time over a couple of years.
  #38  
Old 11-27-2018, 08:14 AM
Hypno-Toad Hypno-Toad is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: By the Caloosahatchee
Posts: 11,615
Quote:
Originally Posted by JKellyMap View Post
Soon after the Jonestown "pioneers" started to build the vlllage, someone acquired a license to purchase cyanide, supposedly to purify mined gold. They then purchased a little at a time over a couple of years.
That does make me wonder how long he may have had the mass suicide option in his mind.
__________________
This is my signature. There are many like it, but this one is mine.
  #39  
Old 11-27-2018, 10:42 AM
ThelmaLou's Avatar
ThelmaLou ThelmaLou is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Neither here nor there
Posts: 14,389
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hypno-Toad View Post
That does make me wonder how long he may have had the mass suicide option in his mind.
It was probably something he wanted to have in his back pocket just in case. What an evil man.
__________________
Barely good enough to do the job most of the time. (Thanks, guestchaz.)
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 02:45 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright © 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

 
Copyright © 2017