On today's anniversary of Jonestown, here is a moving music video using footage from the Peoples Temple

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/11/18/on-todays-anniversary-of-jonestown-here-is-a-moving-music-video-using-footage-from-the-peoples-temple.html


The final 44 minute audio recording that the People’s Temple made at the end was something I listened to a decade ago and it still gives me chills just thinking about it. It’s obvious from the tape a lot of the people weren’t too keen on doing taking their lives, even tried to talk a little sense into Jim Jones, but the peer pressure was too strong… It’s sad but also revealing.


And now instead of pastors who encourage social justice we have mega-pastors who encourage the “gospel of prosperity” and how god will make you rich.

I guess because Jesus wasn’t in the tomb when the angel rolled the stone away, then He can’t be “rolling in his grave.”


A good reminder that “drank the kool-aid” really meant “forced to do so.”


Right. The more I learned about Jonestown many years ago, the more I realized that we really shouldn’t be using that phrase in casual conversation like that.


This is a nice take on the issue [soft paywall]:



As some of these articles explain even a lot of people who did “drink the Kool-Aid” of their own accord didn’t necessarily intend to die; Jones regularly did ritual “poisonings” in which people were told they were imbibing or had imbibed poison as a sadistic kind of loyalty test.

By the time of the massacre most people probably had no idea whether the drink was really poisoned until it was too late.

“Mass murder” is really the best way to understand the Jonestown massacre.


Only thing missing are the red hats…

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I guess we could replace “Drank the Kool-Aid” with something more PC like “They were easily led to take an action that ultimately cost them their lives.” or further mumbo jumbo …

It isn’t so much about the individual drinker, it speaks more as a warning about the frightening power and influence of the person pouring the drink.


I grew up with the phrase “hook, line, and sinker”, which seems to carry a lot of the same meaning of “drank the Kool-Aid”. It’s not exact, of course.

Maybe in the future we could say, “wore the red hat”, or “voted for Thanksgiving”, which brings the sense of willful, deliberate agency into the concept of being deceived.




I think that’s a conflation of two separate things. Drinking the Kool Aid existed a a phrase relating to the 60s acid tests (see the Electric Kool Aid Acid Test), they put it in Flavour Aid (so? Not American here) in Jonestown and the two things kind of sutured together. Obviously taking the red pill is also mining that seam of legend too. One of the meanings of legend is that a person or event becomes so important that other events and people become attached to it.

See also: Waco. They murdered their own children while burning the place down cos they were such heroes nobody could take them alive.

Those details are less clear. The FBI spent years telling the public that they had no role in the fires at Waco but in 1999 they were forced to admit that they did indeed use incendiary canisters that quite likely ignited the blaze. I doubt the Branch Davidian compound was built in accordance with local fire codes but it’s not entirely clear they intended to burn themselves to death.


Arseholes. FBI/BAT I mean.

My closest encounter with Waco/ Oklahoma City types is ancient history (and I accidentally triggered an international news story and a bunch of local scandals which were shamelessly used to the extent that we will probably never know some truths). Am I still right in thinking that they did shoot their own though?


I remember when BB first posted this a few years ago it really freaked me out.

This year I’ve been thinking and talking with a friend quite a bit about Jonestown, especially in relation to the death cult the GOP has created. Of course I watched this video again. This time it just made me really sad. The people are so earnest and believe so deeply in the Project when they are in fact being duped by a madman and they’re all going to end up dead. 2020 should have paid closer attention to 1978.


Most people in the compound died of smoke inhalation. Koresh and his deputy were found with fatal wounds suggesting suicide or murder-suicide. It’s still a matter of intense debate whether the cult intended a mass suicide or not, though it was clearly in the Feds’ interests to characterize the deaths that way.

It’s hard to parse the complete story because so much of the information comes from the FBI—which repeatedly lied to the public and congress about what had transpired. They even lied to Janet Reno, falsely telling her that children were being abused in the compound (or at least mischaracterizing the nature of said abuse) in order to convince her to authorize more aggressive action.

PBS Frontline did a pretty good documentary on the whole ordeal a couple years ago. Nobody involved comes away looking especially good. https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/waco/


There’s an absolutely ragingly good Jonestown podcast series just completed By Darryl Cooper at Martyr Made called God’s Socialist - contextual take on the entire 60s/70s, it’s ace (and deeeeeep)

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Okay, I want it on my tombstone that David Pescovitz called one of my comments, “genius”. I feel like I’ve received a gold watch for my retirement!

Also, I’m going to start using “wear / wore the red hat” now in place of that other phrase. Help me make it a thing, Internet!