Admiring Manson

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Ideas have consequences and bad ideas have bad ones. I’m often reminded of that when I have a conversation that broaches the subject of human evil. As most of my readers already know, the denial of human evil is a very real problem among younger generations of Americans. Just last week, however, I had a conversation with a college student that really stopped me in my tracks. I have reproduced it below but not for anyone’s entertainment. I have some observations that follow. I hope you’ll give them careful consideration after you read the following exchange:

UNC-Wilmington Student: What courses do you teach at UNCW?

Me: Right now, I’m teaching Law of Evidence and Trials of the Century, a course that focuses on famous American criminal trials.
Student: What case are you covering now?

Me: We’re discussing Charles Manson.

Student: I sort of admire Charles Manson.

Me: What do you mean by that? Is it the murderer part or the racist part you admire most in Manson?

Student: Well, he didn’t actually murder anyone.

Me: Actually he did. Under the vicarious liability rule of criminal conspiracy, the act of entering a conspiracy substitutes in place of the act of killing in order to fulfill the actus reus requirement. Add the intent or mens rea elements and we have the two major ingredients necessary for a crime.

Student: That’s just a technicality.

Me: The same thing applies to Hitler. Certainly, you would have no reservations calling Hitler a murderer in a purely moral sense. Calling Hitler a murderer doesn’t rest on a technicality just because he had others carry out the acts.

Student: Well, the Manson family was different. They didn’t follow Manson’s instructions. He just wanted people killed. He didn’t want them butchered.

Me: I won’t concede that you are right about that but I want to better understand your position. Are you saying that gratuitous murder is reprehensible but that clean and efficient murder is admirable? Help me out, here.

Student: Manson dabbled in Buddhism and I think that put him at peace with what he did. If he’s fine with it then that’s all that matters.

Me: Once again, I’m not going to accept your factual premises but I want to get something straight. Are you referring to the Buddhist principle that evil is an illusion? Is that what you believe?

Student: (Silence).

Me: Well, let me put it another way. Since it is Veteran’s Day, let me ask you to imagine the following. An American soldier goes to liberate a Nazi concentration camp. He sees piles of bodies lying around everywhere. He smells the stench of death all around him. Are those sights and smells mere illusions or would someone visiting the same camp at the same time see and smell the very same things?

Student: Well, I’m not going to deny the Holocaust. It certainly wasn’t an illusion.

Me: Then what does Manson’s subsequent state of mind have to do with anything?

Student: I’m not following you.

Me: Well then let me help you. Just imagine that you and I get really drunk and I decide to rape you. In the morning, I can’t remember anything that happened. I was just too drunk to remember anything. Since I don’t remember the rape, I’m totally at peace with it. I can’t be upset out about it if I don’t remember that it happened. But didn’t it really happen?

Student: Yes. In the scenario you described there was a rape.

Me: Just remember that whenever you make Manson’s peace of mind an issue you insult the murder victims and their families just as you would be insulted by someone denying your rape with similar logic.

Student: Okay, I don’t admire Charles Manson.

This kind of twisted moral reasoning isn’t totally new among America’s youth. Were it so there never would have been a Manson family in the first place. As a new ex-con, Charles Manson went to Haight Asbury in 1967 because he knew it was a place where morally confused young people gathered. He knew he could find runaways who were victims of abuse or who had fallen prey to addiction. He also knew he could find youths caught up in rebellion against everything their parents had taught them.

The ideas Manson taught were not welcomed on college campuses in the 1960s. There were protests to be sure. But the campuses were not yet steeped in moral relativism. Our universities were still classically liberal. That liberalism was built on a foundation of tolerance. And, by definition, true tolerance presupposes a moral judgment. Relativism simply did not fit into the equation.

Of course, the universities have changed a lot within the last twenty years. Multicultural centers started to pop up on campuses everywhere during the early 90s. Unfortunately, the multicultural worldview (read: cultural relativism) is no longer confined to those centers. New majors have popped up with strange names, which usually begin with the name of a particular cultural group and end with the word “studies.” Basic studies requirements in areas such as “life sciences,” “natural sciences,” and “social sciences” are being replaced with strange new categories. For example, my university now has a basic studies concentration requirement called “living in a diverse world.”

We all need to be prepared for where this is going. If you think debating the question “is abortion murder?” is frustrating then imagine debating the question “is murder is really wrong?” You won’t have to imagine much longer. This is the direction in which we are headed. But those debates won’t be with strung out teenaged drug addicts on the streets of San Francisco. They will be with young adults who have college degrees. And with their multicultural education will come some degree of cultural influence.

A general rule of thumb is that the trends taking place on our campuses today will be taking place in the broader culture in twenty years. The question as always is how the church will respond. It has merely reacted to the culture for far too long. That is good news for the high priests of multi-cultural diversity.


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Mike Adams
Mike S. Adams was born in Columbus, Mississippi on October 30, 1964. While a student at Clear Lake High School in Houston, TX, his team won the state 5A soccer championship. Adams graduated from C.L.H.S. in 1983 with a 1.8 GPA. He was ranked 734 among a class of 740, largely as a result of flunking English all four years of high school.

After obtaining an Associate's degree in psychology from San Jacinto College, Mike Adams moved on to Mississippi State University where he joined the Sigma Chi Fraternity. While living in the fraternity house, his GPA rose to 3.4, allowing him to finish his B.A., and then to pursue a Master's in Psychology.

In 1990, Adams turned down a chance to pursue a PhD in psychology from the University of Georgia, opting instead to remain at Mississippi State to study Sociology/Criminology. This decision was made entirely on the basis of his reluctance to quit his night job as member of a musical duo. Playing music in bars and at fraternity parties and weddings financed his education. He also played for free beer.

Upon getting his doctorate in 1993, Mike Adams, then an atheist and a Democrat, was hired by UNC-Wilmington to teach in the criminal justice program. A few years later, Adams abandoned his atheism and also became a Republican. He also nearly abandoned teaching when he took a one-year leave of absence to study law at UNC-Chapel Hill in 1998.

After returning to teach at UNC-Wilmington, Mike Adams won the Faculty Member of the Year award (issued by the Office of the Dean of Students) for the second time in 2000.

After his involvement in a well publicized free speech controversy in the wake of the 911 terror attacks, Mike Adams became a vocal critic of the diversity movement in academia. He has since made appearances on shows like Hannity and Colmes, the O'Reilly Factor, and Glenn Beck. His column on has earned him countless hate mails - often from radical feminists who hate males.

Mike Adams published his first book, Welcome to the Ivory Tower of Babel, in 2004. His second book, Feminists Say the Darndest Things: A Politically Incorrect Professor Confronts "Womyn" On Campus, was published in 2008. Later that year, Adams joined the faculty of Summit Ministries in Colorado where he spends his summers lecturing against abortion and in favor of First Amendment rights on college campuses.

In addition to lecturing on the First Amendment, Mike Adams is actively involved in legal challenges to campus censorship. Represented by the ADF, he won a landmark First Amendment case before the 4th Circuit in Richmond, VA. Decided in 2011, Adams v UNCW held that professors publishing columns and giving speeches have the full protection of the First Amendment when discussing matters of public concern. Hence, when professors report such activities as part of their annual review, tenure, or promotion materials the university does not have license to discriminate on the basis of the professor's viewpoint.

Dr. Adams next book, Letters to a Young Progressive, was published in April of 2013. He plans to spend the profits on new guns made by Browning and old guitars made by Fender.