To the editor: The only thing that made Charles Manson “human” is the fact that, like other people, he possessed arms, legs and everything else that makes him a member of our species. Internally, he was a hopelessly flawed and dangerous individual, a monster in human form. (“The human side of Charlie Manson,” Opinion, Nov. 20)
Author David L. Ulin’s statement that Manson was “perhaps not so utterly different from the rest of us” borders on insanity, a stark illustration of how far removed from reality a liberal ideology can be. If Manson was like the rest of us, then why was he imprisoned in the first place?
Jon Nelson, Panorama City
To the editor: We have for millenniums regarded evil, like gravity, as an independent force of nature. Now long past the age when that view was established in our culture, we still resist what Ulin is courageously willing to state: There are myriad social and clinical deficits that produce mass killers, and if we continue to merely exoticize evil, we retard our efforts to understand how sociopaths are produced.
Ulin tells us Manson was abused as a child. I would have been shocked to learn otherwise. The emotional, psychological and social capital required to cultivate a life is immense. Deficiencies often lead to aberrant and violent behaviors.
While our educational systems do an admirable job teaching technical skills, we perform less well — as the Dalai Lama recently observed in The Times — educating the heart. To ensure that every person is loved and affirmed may be our most important project.
To the editor: If I understand Ulin correctly, we should cut Manson some slack because he had a horrible childhood.
Well, boo hoo. So did a lot of people who’ve managed to get through life without developing the urge to see perfect strangers carved up like Thanksgiving turkeys.
To Ulin, who writes of Manson’s “humanity” by arguing “he was perhaps not so utterly different from the rest of us,” I say speak for yourself.
David Browning, Studio City
To the editor: Substitute the names “Adolf Hitler” or “Josef Stalin” for Manson’s, and listen for people to start saying that Manson didn’t kill that many people.
Paraphrasing Bette Davis, I was raised to say nothing but good about the dead. Manson is dead. Good.
Charles Harding, San Pedro