The cliché that everyone’s death diminishes us does not apply to Charles Manson. The career criminal, a Cult Leader, failed musician, and mass murderer finally died at the age of 83 at Kern County Hospital. Manson had been serving nine consecutive life sentences for multiple murders he instigated in late 1969. He initially received the death penalty, but that punishment was overturned briefly by the United States Supreme Court in 1972, commuting it to life in prison.

What did Manson do?

Manson, who was the leader of a hippie cult leading a hand to mouth existence at the Spahn Ranch, an abandoned movie set, directed his followers to invade the home shared by actress Sharon Tate and her husband director Roman Polanski, who was abroad at the time shooting a movie.

The cultists slaughtered her, her unborn baby, and her guests. The next night they invaded the home of Leon LaBianca and his wife Rosemary and murdered them as well.

Manson’s cult, a mishmash of LSD, sex orgies, and racist philosophy worthy of anything modern white nationalists would articulate, maintained that the end of the world could be sparked by these murders which would then be blamed on the Black Panthers, sparking a race war. Manson was also put out that his musical career never took off, despite his association with such groups as the Mamas and the Poppas and the Beach Boys. He had decent enough talent, but his volatile personality ruined his first big break. He was another example of a failed artist who, like Hitler, turned violent.

The cultural effect of Manson.

The Manson murders, along with the infamous rock concert at the Altamont Speedway, brought the sixties to a close with an appropriate backdrop of bloodletting and screaming. Yet, many sixties radicals, such as Bernardine Dohrn, a good friend of Barack and Michelle Obama, praised what Manson and his followers did as a kind of performance art with a political subtext.

In a way, Manson was a perfect metaphor for the seamy side of the sixties, drugs, sex orgies, and rock and roll devolving into chaotic violence.

John Douglas, the FBI profiler who was the inspiration for Jack Crawford in “The Silence of the Lambs,” suggests that Manson did not fil the model of a serial killer, but he had the uncanny ability to inspire others to commit heinous acts.

He was too squeamish to perform the actions himself. He was someone who was too dangerous to be allowed at liberty due to his effect on others. In any case, Manson is now dead, several decades too late.