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Opinion

50 years later, readers don’t want to relive the Manson killings

Police guarding murder scene
A police officer stands in the driveway of the Los Feliz house where Leno and Rosemary LaBianca were killed on Aug. 10, 1969, while other officers search in front.
(Bettmann / Getty Images)

Precisely 50 years ago, the following people were killed at private homes in Los Angeles: Sharon Tate, Jay Sebring, Abigail Folger, Voytek Frykowski, Steven Parent, Rosemary LaBianca and Leno LaBianca. Their names have faded from memory relative to those who brutally killed them, convicted murderers who continue to arouse our collective morbid curiosity.

It is this continued media coverage of murderous cult members who terrorized Los Angeles half a century ago that has prompted more than two dozen readers to express their displeasure with us over the last few weeks. This, combined with readers who say they’d rather not read even the names of accused mass shooters, fit in with a pattern: Our letter writers tend to get upset by reporting that focuses on the perpetrators of crime as much as their victims.

Sherman Oaks resident Alan Lohr believes the coverage is exploitative:

It is a true horror to visualize the massacres that Charles Manson’s so-called family perpetrated. Why do you put stories about a psychopath and his minions on your front page so frequently? It is sensationalist and exploitative in every sense of the word.

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I was 15 when those headlines first appeared. I feel the Los Angeles Times should stop publicizing anything to do with this family of killers.

Mary Sodomka of Santa Barbara would rather not relive the horror of 1969:

I do not appreciate your coverage of the despicable Charles Manson. I lived through that time as a young, pregnant woman and was horrified.

I do not understand your need to plow through all that horror and give more attention to the people who committed those awful crimes. Please stop.

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Tom Hilt of Sherman Oaks laments our desensitization to deadly crime:

I remember being in law school in the bucolic atmosphere of Lexington, Ky., when news of the horrific murders on two different nights alarmed the nation. Fifty years later, it appears that our alarms are broken.

Del Mar resident Herb Adelman was one of several readers to comment on an editorial decrying “Manson nostalgia”:

Your editorial said, “Manson’s victims deserve to be remembered, as do all murder victims, but Manson and his sorry followers do not.”

Then why did the L.A. Times give him and his followers huge front-page coverage on July 28 and once again on Aug. 8?

This is why readers who want to know about Brexit and Kashmir and what’s happening in Syria and Afghanistan and climate change and gun control and the other many current serious issues are dropping their subscriptions.

Chatsworth resident Bette Tang also agreed with the editorial:

I couldn’t agree more with your editorial on Manson -- enough reminiscing. We don’t need to remember him. I’m glad he’s dead.

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But isn’t it a bit odd of you to have his photo with his sickening smirk on the front page of your newspaper on the same day?


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