I find it curious that when the Chapter entitled “The Cult” begins, in the interview, (Click the Pic below for the entire interview!)
I not only find this curious, I find it dubious, as I, at only the age of six, knew all too well about the influx of cult groups within North American society at that time. All one had to do was be at any of the larger airports or city centres in those days to see and be bombarded by young people, dressed in similar clothing or robes, selling daisies for cash and flogging their extremist literature onto anyone who just gave them a glance.
Tex was 22 in the summer of ‘68 and although he had come from a small town, he had been in Los Angeles long enough to have been well aware of all the groups that blew into that city, that his take on the Manson Family as just a commune seems a wee bit off the mark.
The first night he met Charlie at Dennis Wilson’s house, Charlie made no secret of his religious/spiritual philosophies so to feign ignorance in what Charlie was flogging and what Tex was buying is just a very convenient excuse to me.
Tex talks in a passive-aggressive way when he says, “There was something very evil slowly capturing our souls.”, as do all the other killers when they choose to describe their time in the Family as a total subjugation and a total overtaking of their souls unto Charlie, never that they were willing or voluntarily chose to subjugate themselves. In other words, the evil captured them and not them chasing after the evil.
In the latter stages of The Family, yes, I can buy that there might have been a subconscious pull, but in the early stages, each one of these killers made a choice to stay with Charlie, made a choice to do what he said, made a choice to be what he wanted them to be, and made a choice to become part of the evil Charlie had designed for them.
How do I know this, you ask? Simply because not all of the youngsters who fell into Charlie’s lap stayed with Charlie.
Paul Watkins, for one, made a conscious effort to leave The Family after that last conversation with Manson, whereby he stated that Helter Skelter was to come down now, by way of The Family. Paul said he got some pretty bad pictures from what Charlie was saying that day so he chose to leave instead of being a party to whatever was to follow. Others in similar fashion fled The Family before or as soon as they became aware of the killings, as they too wanted no part of Manson’s latest plan.
The kids who chose to flee instead of stay were ingesting the same amount of drugs, attending the same LSD-fuelled orgies and listening to the same mind-altering oratories from Charlie as the killers had but when they realised that a moral line had been crossed, they chose to stick to their morals and abandon their “leader”.
Whenever, at whatever moment in time that took place, whether down by the creek during one of Charlie’s sermons, or during an LSD trip after dinner, or on one of The Family’s murder-school “dry runs”, a fork in the road was made evident to these future killers – to stay and kill for Charlie or to go and not to kill. Most took the moral choice; Tex and four girls did not. It’s really as simple as that.
Tex, to his credit at least, admits that it was his own laziness which prevented him from succeeding in society, that maybe his too-generous parents had made life so easy for him, by way of cars, clothes and college, that the idea of working for these things on his own was by then a distasteful proposition. Tex admits that his failure to succeed made him gravitate towards anyone of authority who said that to “Turn On, Tune In and Drop Out” was not only okay, it was the “in” thing to do.
Tex, like Sadie, Katie and Leslie, was just waiting for anyone to give him the go-ahead to continue to fail, to continue to be an under-achiever, to continue to escape reality through the world of drugs and have all that be socially acceptable. It could have been Charlie, it could have been the Cookie Monster, it could have been anyone Tex saw in authority who said dropping out and failing in traditional ways was what was really expected of their generation, whether it really was or not.
These ne’er-do-well kids were the spark and all Charlie had to do was come up with the flame, and POOF!, the inner-most Manson Family members were born to kill.
Q: When did you realize your beliefs were wrong?
I realized my beliefs were wrong when it was too late. After the murders, my mind was racing, not knowing if what Charlie was saying was true or false. It didn't seem to be unfolding like he said it would. We'd moved to the desert and were unable to find the bottomless pit. I then began to question Manson's beliefs.
All the killers, at one time or another, have given the exact same response, which, if you read between the lines, is extremely telling.
The killers only decided that what they had done was wrong after Charlie’s version of the afterlife wasn’t materializing, NOT because what they had done was so personally disgusting but because what they had done had not been a means to an end. Incredible, isn’t it?!
Soooo, if I’m reading this scenario right, IF Charlie and the gang had found the Bottomless Pit, the Blacks had annihilated the Whites and Charlie had ended up King of the World after The Family had grown to 144,000, then the killing of these innocent people would have been hunky-dory fine with Tex et al.
It was not the killing that Tex and the girls objected to; it was that their reward for the killings never materialized! All they had done, all the human slaughter would have been A-OK if Charlie’s plan had come to pass.
It was only after the plan’s failure did these sociopaths sit down and decide that if they were ever to see the light of day again without cells bar shadows cast upon their faces, they had better admit the wrong in their actions and become contrite and remorseful even if that wasn’t the first natural, instinctual reaction they had experienced.
What blows MsBurb’s mind is the miraculous circumstance of events which allowed for a conflagration of a handful of like-minded would-be killers in the exact locale at the exact time period needed to pull off this nightmare. I’m not sure Charlie could have done any better if he had taken an ad out in the L.A. Times saying, “Cold-hearted knife-wielding killers wanted. Apply at Spahn Ranch”!
Tex goes on to say in this chapter, that in his experience, he never heard Manson expound on Adolf Hitler, on Friedrich Nietzsche, on Scientology or The Process Church or on any connection between Helter Skelter and the aforementioned. In this admission, I tend to think that Tex is telling the truth here. Not to say that others in The Family had not heard Manson expound on such philosophers/philosophies but just that in Tex’s experience nothing had been said to that effect in front of him. This is not surprising given the testimony evidence we have that Charlie had a penchant for telling each person what he thought they needed or wanted to hear from him.
Charlie was a Father to some, a Lover to others and no doubt could easily have been a Nazi leader to someone else if that was the type of leader they needed Manson to be.
This multiple personality prison parlour trick came in nice and handy for the girls in my opinion, giving each of them their own reason/excuse/authority to kill for a “Cause”, whatever that may have been for each one.
- For Katie, the concept of “Helter Skelter” was textbook.
- For Sadie, it was just another opportunity to do something far-out and wicked for her Man.
- For Leslie, it was most likely the plan was to cover for Bobby.
- And for Linda, a chance to “Make her bones” in a group of which she so desperately wanted to be apart.
These individual reasons would NOT have had to be verbally instructed to each girl on the night of Tate as Charlie would have made sure these girls had their reasons cemented well before a Buck knife slid into their hands. I imagine the reasons were formulated and reinforced from just before the Hinman murder right up to the night of Tate. All that would have been required of Charlie on the eve of Tate was the “Go!” signal, and off they went, no further explanation required.
For Tex, the reason seems far more ambiguous to me. I really think after Paul left the clan, Tex either fell into being Charlie’s Right Hand Man or Tex wanted to be Charlie’s Right Hand Man. Whichever the case, I believe Tex willingly committed the murders because he felt he was in that hallowed position with Bobby being in jail and Clem totally incapable of performing in a lead roll.
The question that has lingered in my mind for years has been why Bruce was not chosen to lead the killers on the night of Tate?
It could have been just because he a) refused the order; or b) Charlie purposely kept him out of the mix as he had already had a peripheral role in Hinman or that he was just too valuable a member – being The Family Comptroller – to be sacrificed. Bruce could have been more strong-willed or had less of an interest in achieving a higher position of power within The Family that he consciously chose to be associated with certain crimes and not with others. Bruce wasn’t even present in the Ford on the night of LaBianca yet by all outward appearances Bruce had the brains, the physical capacity and the moral fibre to commit murder as was evident in the brutal slaying of Shorty.
Bruce’s participation in Shorty’s murder could have been because by that time, all the men in The Family had got blood on their hands, literally or figuratively, including Charlie, and Manson was in no mood to hear Bruce’s objections when it came time to eliminate Shorty from the scene.
I truly believe that for Tex it was a power play and an obligation to be there for his Brother when his Brother had been there for him with regard to Bernard Crowe. Once a human being abandons his moral code, one infringement seems no more evil than the next I guess, and to go from the Crowe drug burn to the knifing of strangers wasn’t such a stretch at that point. It seems like a cavernous leap to me but I have have no sociopathic monster behind my psyche like Tex.
Tex gives himself another “out” by saying that if he had heard of Manson espousing such philosophies, Tex would have fled The Family for good just like Brooks Poston and Paul Watkins had.
This is a difficult scenario to prove or disprove from what we know of Tex and his life with The Family at this point in time. I have no problem believing that Tex would have been familiar with the evils of Hitler’s regime from grade school and no doubt from his parents as he himself was a post WWII baby. Possibly if Tex had heard such adoration of Hitler from Manson, that would have been enough of a signal to leave. But when Paul and Brooks did leave Manson for Crockett, it seems like Tex never really asked himself the question “Why?”. Why did such fervent members decide to leave the man they had long ago chosen to follow into Hell if necessary?
I imagine this question still rolls around in Tex’s mind as he lays in bed at night, even to this very day.
I imagine the Monster in Tex knows the answer if even the Man in Tex does not.
To be continued…