When I get to the bottom, I go back to the top of the slide.
It's a topic we’ve discussed 1000 times, and let’s face it, we’ll never reach a consensus.
Some folks believe the entire notion was fabricated by Vincent Bugliosi… and from there, he simply jammed it down everyone’s throat.
Other folks, like my good friend Kimchi, believe it all started with Paul Watkins and Brooks Poston.
As Kimchi said to me via email: “The HS thing appears to have emerged from the drug-fueled over-imagination of Paul Watkins and Brooks Poston“.
Some folks believe Charles Manson actually preached “HS” at the ranch… others don’t.
If it WAS preached at the ranch… did Manson actually believe it? Did the kids actually believe it?
This is a discussion that will never end… unless of course, a different motive is “solved” to everyone’s satisfaction. And trust me folks, that’s not gonna happen.
Manson utilized "Helter Skelter" as a means to an end. Bugliosi also utilized "Helter Skelter" as a means to an end. Both men fully understood that "Helter Skelter" was nothing more than a tall tale… but both men cultivated the story, because it was beneficial to them. It’s really that simple.
Below are my thoughts on “Helter Skelter” for what it’s worth. I’ll begin by discussing the significance of “HS” from Charles Manson’s perspective. I’ll then discuss the topic, as it pertains to Vincent Bugliosi. Lastly, I’ll conclude by explaining what this all means to us… the “researcher”.
Charlie: The diary of a two-bit entertainer, manipulator, opportunist, with a bitter streak.
Charlie had to keep the kids entertained. He used several methods to accomplish that goal. He sang, he played guitar, he told stories, he provided drugs, he provided sex… etc. etc.
A stand-up comic hones his act nightly, by utilizing audience feedback. If a joke goes over big (with the audience)… he continues to use that joke. In fact, if possible, he expands upon it. Conversely, if a joke bombs, he shit-cans it.
Charles Manson was an entertainer of sorts. He had to be. There were a boatload of places for a young kid to have fun in the 60’s… especially in California. If Manson was a boring old fart, they would have left.
I believe Manson had dozens of "raps" (i.e., stories) that he used to entertain the kids. “HS” was simply one of them. One of dozens, in fact.
But for whatever the reason, the “HS story” caught-on with the kids. And Manson, (like any good entertainer), took note of this, and went with it. He expanded upon the “act“. And somewhere along the line, Manson realized that he could use this “HS angle” to manipulate.
In a nutshell, that’s my honest opinion of “HS” (in regards to Charlie specifically). I think it probably started as nothing more than a “yarn” Charlie spun around the campfire (to entertain the kids), and it morphed into a convenient manipulation tool.
"HS" wasn't even very original. There were lots of folks talking "revolution" in California at that time.
Bugliosi: The diary of a success-driven man, who had no boundaries, when it came to winning.
If Bugliosi could have proven another motive, he would have.
I’m sure Bugliosi was presented with several possible motives (just as we are). And just like the rest of us, Bugliosi was unable to prove another motive (without having major loopholes to contend with). To quote Dilligaf from 2 years ago: “This case had more loose ends, than tassels on a rug”.
You can't stand-up to prosecute multiple defendants simultaneously, and say to the jury:
"Truth be told, the motive could be this... this.... or this... and likely, two of those combined. Heck, I'm not quite sure myself. I’ll probably never know for sure. Thanks for your time". That doesn't win a case.
For all its shortcomings, “HS” is a fairly tidy package, which is somewhat easy to present (compared to the other possible motive theories). To prove “drugs” as the motive (for instance), you have to string together several intricate timelines and details. There are loopholes that are hard to fill.
You don’t have to “prove” a whole lot of tiny “details” with “HS“. For the most part, you just have to convince the jury that #1) Manson is completely “bat-shit crazy“, and #2) he was in-charge of the other loonies. (i.e., bat-shit crazy enough to concoct and implement a really bizarre scheme). And let’s face it folks… with several butchered bodies left behind, AND the actions of Manson and his minions (inside the courtroom and out), those concepts weren't difficult to sell.
Bugliosi knew these folks were going to act crazy. And moreover, he knew these kids were going to paint Manson as their leader. Clang-Bang goes the iron door.
The "HS package" implicated Manson... the "big tuna". I’m sure that was a big selling point for Bugliosi. Bugliosi wanted Manson, and he wasn't going to present a case that excluded him.
Let me make one thing clear:
Bugliosi knew “HS” was bullshit.
Bugliosi was asked in an interview (right around the time Susan was petitioning for "compassionate release“): "Do you still believe the motive was “Helter Skelter“?
His response: "It seems the motives were several and disparate".
Also, years earlier, Bugliosi said on a talk show (paraphrasing):
“Charles Manson probably didn’t even believe the HS story himself.”
Bugliosi chose the one motive (he was presented with), that would implicate Manson AND be successful through the corroboration of the defendants themselves (and the “Family” collectively).
Lacking enough evidence to “sell” a more traditional motive, Bugliosi rolled his dice on “HS”… and thankfully for society, it worked. It worked, because Manson and his minions did all the work for him… as Bugliosi predicted they would.
Here’s a few reasons why I think “HS” was not the true motive:
The Manson men took care of Shorty Shea quite handily... and that had nothing to do with a race war (HS).
Manson and TJ left Bernard Crowe for dead, and that had nothing to do with a race war (HS), either.
The Manson men clearly demonstrated that they were capable of committing crimes (up to, and including murder) for practical reasons (i.e., reasons they perceived as practical). They didn't need "HS" as a motive.
In keeping, I don’t believe the Cielo and Waverly locations were chosen randomly either.
They went to Crowe's place intentionally. They went to Hinman's place intentionally. They killed Shorty Shea intentionally. Heck... you can add the Willetts to the list, if you want. None of those victims were complete random strangers. They knew Crowe... they knew Hinman... and they knew Shorty... and they knew where to find them.
These perpetrators went to locations intentionally... and killed people they knew... for a reason. (Albeit really shitty reasons... but for a “reason” nonetheless.) They weren't random serial killers, with a race war in mind. That wasn’t their MO.
HS was a piece of this puzzle... but, it wasn't the entire enchilada. Tex Watson, Charles Manson (and the "upper management" LOL) had their sights set on Cielo Drive and Waverly for reasons beyond HS.
HS was a manipulation tool Manson used (among many manipulation tools) to execute TLB, but it wasn't the underlying motive.
Here’s something else to chew on:
If Manson was completely sold on an Armageddon race war, why did he stop killing after just 48 hours?
If Manson really believed that the end of the world (as we know it) was at hand... and moreover, he was going to emerge victorious... why would he throw-in the towel so quickly???
Ya gotta admit:
For an idea that Manson was supposed to be completely consumed with... he certainly gave-up pretty easily.