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20 April 2009 @ 01:14 am
Jonestown & the Peoples Temple (I didn't know)  
There was a reference to Jonestown in the Harvey Milk documentary I watched today, and I realized that while I had a vague notion that Jonestown's keywords were "cult" and "mass suicide", I actually didn't know any of the particulars. I'd been around for 20 months when all of this went down at the end of 1978, and that pre-dates my first memories. I knew that it was too big a deal for me to not know about, and that I should correct that ignorance.

When I got home late tonight, sleepy, I curled up to read about it.

Bone-headed move in retrospect, right? Not the best bedtime reading material.

This whole thing is just so far beyond creepy. And I keep running across one more thing I don't know about, so I read about that.

I now know a little about the Gallup poll, Jim Jones, Harvey Milk, George Moscone, the Peoples Temple, Jonestown, Flavor Aid and Guyana. An educational day, I suppose.

Yargh. o.0 I'm not entirely sure there is a point at which I will have enough data to even begin to comprehend this internally (and I think maybe that's A-Ok with me).

At one point, Jim Jones was a director of the Indiana Human Rights Commission. He was active in the racial integration / desegregation of churches, businesses and a hospital in Indiana in the 1960s.

Jones and his wife, Marceline Jones, were the first white couple in Indiana to adopt a black child. They also adopted three children of Korean and one of Native American descent, as well as a white son. They had one biological child (Stephan, June 1959). 7 children total - only 2 died at Jonestown. One adopted daughter, Stephanie, died the month before Stephan was born in a car accident.

Jonestown was located in Guyana, which is in north-central South America. Prior, the Peoples Temple was mostly located in California.

U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan (California) was murdered in the line of duty at the conclusion of an investigation at Jonestown hours before the mass suicide.

The death toll was 918 people - 9 at nearby Georgetown, and the rest in Jonestown. 9 people survived for various reasons.

November 18, 1978 - Jonestown mass suicide
November 27, 1978 - Harvey Milk and George Moscone murdered by Dan White

I can't even imagine what it felt like to be a Californian in November of 1978.

See, and then I read one more thing, like this on Wikipedia:
Because the Peoples Temple leader, Jim Jones, was politically powerful in San Francisco (and supported both candidates), Milk allowed Temple members to work his phones, and later spoke at the Temple and defended Jones. But to his volunteers, he said, "Make sure you're always nice to the Peoples Temple. If they ask you to do something, do it, and then send them a note thanking them for asking you to do it. They're weird and they're dangerous, and you never want to be on their bad side."

I just need to stop reading, and try to sleep, and now it's after 2am.

Creepy creepy creepy. And I certainly see now why Jonestown conspiracy theories are so tempting ...
nplusmnplusm on April 20th, 2009 04:29 pm (UTC)
I find Jonestown fascinating, but have never researched it much.

I wonder how they compare to the Heaven's Gate people.
Cantakerous troubadoursonder on April 20th, 2009 04:44 pm (UTC)
As far as cults go there's no real comparison. The heaven's gate leader set himself up as a person posessed of an alien intelligence and it was ALWAYS understood that they would kill themselves when the comet came by.

Jones didn;t start off down that path - I think in his deluded mind, he thought he was genuinely trying to make a new social order with jonestown, but like most megalomaniacs, when he was removed to a place where he was the ONLY law, things went south pretty quickly.