Given the recent write-up I did a few days ago on ‘5 signs that you may belong to a dangerous cult’, I figure that many of you might be interested to know that Lynette ‘Squeaky’ Fromme was released from jail after having served almost 40 years in prison for the “attempted assassination” of US President Gerald Ford in 1975. Lynette Fromme was a disciple of Charles Manson, who still remains behind bars along with six other members who were found guilty of involvement in the infamous Sharon Tate ‘Helter Skelter’ murders.
The release is bringing up discussion again as to whether or not those involved in the brutal killings should ever see parole, particularly those who might have a case that Manson had manipulated them through various methods of thought reform. The line between responsibility and coercion is an almost impossible one to pinpoint, and the Manson Family is often used to highlight the most heinous of consequences of belonging to a group with nefarious intentions and unstable leadership.
It is an important discussion to be had, can somebody ever be a victim of thought reform and manipulation to such an extent that they should not have to hold responsibility for their subsequent actions? If you believe in the power of thought reform techniques, then the answer certainly isn’t just black and white. The video shown here highlights the complete devotion and adoration that Fromme has for Manson, and one has to wonder how this state of worship was attained amongst those who followed him. Fromme was 38 in the video, and upon her release she is almost 61 years old. A woman who – like many of Manson’s followers – was seen as well educated and generally well adjusted, gave up most of her life to an individual who claimed to have the answers of meaning that she was craving.
One of Charles Manson’s earliest followers, Fromme has remained a steadfast believer despite her incarceration; even managing to escape from a previous prison for two days in 1987 (just a short while after shooting the above interview) in an attempt to be closer to him once more.
Manson remains in prison after repeated rejections of any parole. Although he did not physically take part in the murders he has been held responsible because of his persuasive powers over his disciples and his ordering of the murders in an attempt to start a race war. Manson and his followers have been held up as examples of the dark side of new religious movements and, together with Jim Jones and Vernon Howell (a.k.a. David Koresh), have demonised all self-styled spiritual leaders throughout much of Western society.
In the end, they should be held up as examples; but not examples of what happens when people come together to form new spiritual ideologies – as if all such new movements are to be considered suspicious and dangerous – but rather of the destructive forces that can result from such ideologies existing upon a basis of power, control, and sociopathic egotism.