William Carlos Williams wrote, “The pure products of America go crazy.” Charles Manson is a fine example. At the Access Manson Web site (www.atwa.com) one can measure the depths of the killer’s deviant soul. Collected here are numerous Manson interviews, parole-hearing statements, general reflections, and paintings (terrifying abstracts populated by ghoulish figures and sprinkled with swastikas). Together these documents and images paint an intimate portrait of Manson, who is scary not just because he’s insane, but because he articulates his visions of the most elemental human instincts and behaviors unflinchingly.
Not to say that his larger philosophy is at all decipherable — ATWA, which stands for air, trees, water, animals, is a kind of subversive environmentalism based on extreme Darwinism — but smaller pieces of Manson’s writings are exhilarating, downright revolutionary and Dylanesque: “Ain’t nobody there, man. Just the air we breathe. It’s the trees, it’s the water, and the animals. If we don’t save the air, water, trees, and animals we can’t have this love anymore. If our love is real and our love is true and our love is right, (why) do we want to run after someone and put it on somebody for? I don’t want to put anything on anyone that don’t want it. If you don’t want it then fuck you. I’m not gonna run after you or chase you. If you’re here, that’s cool. I’ll serve you. I’ll be your best friend. I’ll never lie to you. I’ll give you all the food I got. I’ll go hungry for you. I’ll work for you. I’ll serve you. I’ll shine you, I’ll comb your hair — anything I can help you with. I’ll look out for everybody that you want me to look out for. I’ll do anything you want me to do for you. I’ll fight for you. I’ll go to war for you. I’m in your will completely and if you can’t love me that’s on you. I’m already in the heart, but I’m not no weak motherfuckin’ punk that's gonna laydown and do what I don’t have to do.”
The stated purpose of Access Manson is “to lift the shroud of lies and distortions that have for 27 years been used by self-serving individuals, the mass media, and certain California state departments and offices to cover the reality that is Charles Manson.” George Stimson, the site’s creator, is nothing more than a loser disciple, however; he can barely reiterate Manson’s ideology. In an interview with Richard Metzger, Stimson said, “Well, he [Manson] has said that 50 million people have to go, but I don’t see where that would be enough. As to how they go, we’ve had some discussions on that, but not real specific planning. We haven’t started figuring logistics or anything.” Not exactly a convincing mission statement.
The site’s defense of Manson hinges on one fact: that he was denied the constitutional right to defend himself during his trial. Manson himself made the most convincing plea for justice on this matter. On December 17, 1969, Manson made a formal request in the courtroom of Judge William Keene. “Your Honor,” Manson said, “there is no way I can give up my voice in this matter. If I can’t speak, then our whole thing is done. If I can’t speak in my own defense and converse freely in this courtroom, then it ties my hands behind my back, and if I have no voice, then there is no sense in having a defense. Lawyers play with people, and I am a person and I don’t want to be played with in this matter. The news media has already executed and buried me.... If anyone is hypnotized, the people are being hypnotized by the lies being told them.... There is no attorney in the world who can represent me as a person. I have to do it myself.”
Metzger, who is the editor of Disinformation (www.disinfo.com), gets at Manson’s endurance as a cultural icon: “...Underneath it all, beyond the hype of the most evil man alive,’ Charles Manson has a pivotal role...as a teller of unpleasant truths...a warped witch doctor, a hillbilly exorcist, a white trash shaman.” Again, in pieces Manson’s thought shines — “Your society is so distorted,” he says, “that a sane person would appear like a madman." But he cannot maintain such rhetoric at length; his mind is prone to quick deviation and his crimes remain unexplained.
At his 1997 parole hearing, for instance, Manson mused, “I’ve been raised in the stomach of this beast. And I’ve been living and I’ve been doing whatever I have to do. If I can live in peace I’ll run. If I can get along with people. I’ll get along. I’ll do my best to do everything I can. But when they mess with my music, they fuck with my family, bother my dogs, steal my cows, mistreat my horses — I’ll do whatever I feel is necessary to do whatever I feel is necessary. I believe in George Washington, I believe in the Constitution of George Washington, I believe in the United States Government. I don’t believe in Abraham Lincoln. I never did. I don’t like him at all. That’s the truth.”
We hate Manson because he is sure of himself, because he follows his instincts and is happier than we are. “Prison’s in the mind...can’t you see I’m free?” he asked at his November 19, 1970, sentencing. The Web, according to Manson, Is just another liberating medium: “...The Web is my mind...the Web is my church.”