Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Tale of Three Cities


Los Angeles, California, United States of America. On the nights of August 9th and 10th, 1969, Charles Manson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, Tex Watson, and Leslie Van Houten brutally murder seven upscale Caucasians in the Benedict Canyon and Los Feliz sections of the city. Three months later, the five killers -- known as the Family -- are arrested and put on trial for their lives. The following year all are convicted and sentenced to death. The death sentences are commuted to life in prison without parole, due to the California Supreme Court's People v. Anderson decision invalidating all death sentences imposed in the state prior to 1972. Forty-five years later, Manson remains incarcerated at Corcoran State Prison; Tex Watson at Mule Creek State Prison; Patricia Krewinkel and Leslie Van Houten at the California Institute for Women at Frontera. At Frontera in 2009, Susan Atkins passed away of brain cancer.

My Lai and My Khe, Quang Ngai Province, Republic of Vietnam. On the day and night of March 16, 1968, in the peasant villages of My Lai and My Khe, over 500 men (mostly elderly), women, and children are killed and multilated; most of the women raped before death. The twenty-six murderers are part of an organization known as the United States Army -- more specifically Company C of the 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment. Only one of the killers serves any time, a Lieutenant by the name of William Calley, whose punishment is to be held under house arrest at Fort Benning, Georgia, pending appeal. Three years into this little vacation, Calley is pardoned by President Richard Milhous Nixon.