What’s the reason you keep a monster alive and caged? A verifiable monster, that is, such as Charles Manson. That’s what we’re wondering about. There might be a few reasons for not executing convicted murderers, the only thing we can think of in Manson’s case is simply that execution wasn’t allowed. Not because of doubt; not because it seemed like he’d changed, not because we have risen above the idea of exacting vengeance.

What good did it do to keep him alive and imprisoned? (Maybe so we’d be reminded from time to time that something so dark and sadistic exists and we should never imagine otherwise?)

There have been  plenty of murderers who killed more people – even those who were more brazen, more bizarre, bloodier butchers.

But Manson was pretty bad, and partly by juxtaposition – it was the time of peace, love and harmony and it was cracked apart by Manson and his cult followers. They were ruthless and crazy and mean ... they took extra measures to infect our brains with the idea that safety and humanity could be wiped out by something crazy and cruel. 

We heard how he brain-washed and bullied his followers; we read about him hearing messages in Beatles music, he had the vacant sort of look of a madman, had a swastika scratched into his forehead, ordered the slaughter of people, including an obviously pregnant woman, ordered his minions to leave bloody messages.

He was sentenced to death, then the death penalty was struck down. And so he stayed alive, imprisoned as a reminder about how mean the world could actually be, until his death last week of natural causes.

He was a reminder... we honestly can’t think of any other reason for him to have been kept alive. 

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Thumbs Up: We love all the examples of goodness we’ve seen lately – including local business people who use their presence in the community to help out with good causes, such as David Holycross. He and associates annually run a two-day “Donation Station” collecting gear and funds for the homeless.

Holycross says they just want to make a little difference.

“I get the satisfaction of helping make things better and showing positive examples to other people in the community,” he said in a story in a recent edition.

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Thumbs Down: And just a note to the couple of callers who insisted we must be “owned by Sikhs” because of all the “publicity” we gave the Sikhs during their annual festival and parade. We’re not going to worry much about such criticism and we aren’t planning to change our strategy for the future when any event, sponsored by any cultural group in our community, involves tens of thousands of people. At that point, it’s not publicity; it’s news.

We believe event coverage is part of our bread and butter, and the more people involved, the greater investment we’ll make. We do a couple stories when Cinco de Mayo rolls around, we do several articles around Veterans Day, there will be coverage over a few days of the annual Stampede and of the annual county fair, front page stuff for Bok Kai and the Peach Festival ...

The Sikh parade and gathering? It’s a big deal. We’re not sure how anyone would think otherwise.

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Ugghhh: John’s grandfather died and he inherited the old man’s pet parrot. The bird had a terrible disposition and an even worse vocabulary. Every word out of the bird’s mouth was rude, obnoxious and laced with profanity.

John tried and tried to change the bird’s attitude by consistently saying only polite words, playing soft music and anything else he could think of to clean up the bird’s bad attitude and vocabulary.

Finally, John was fed up and he yelled at the parrot. The parrot yelled back. John shook the parrot’s cage and the parrot got angrier and even more rude. John, in desperation, grabbed the bird and on an impulse put him in the freezer. For a few minutes the parrot squawked and kicked and screamed.

Then there was total quiet. Not a peep was heard for over a minute.

Fearing that he’d hurt the parrot, John quickly opened the door to the freezer. The parrot calmly stepped out onto John’s arm and said “I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions. I’m sincerely remorseful for my inappropriate transgressions and I fully intend to do everything I can to correct my rude and unforgivable behavior.”

John was stunned at the change in the bird’s attitude. He was about to ask the parrot what had brought about the dramatic transition, when the parrot, in a timid whisper said:

“May I ask what the turkey did?”

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