Thirty Year Anniversary of the Jonestown Massacre

Posted: November 22nd, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Brian | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

BoingBoing has posted an excellent selection of documentaries and recordings regarding the Jonestown Massacre in Guyana, which occurred thirty years ago on November 18th. I realize that this is a lot less light-hearted than your standard post, but this PBS documentary struck a chord with me. Yes, it’s long.

I knew so little about this tragic event, aside from (in retrospect, really fucked up) jokes about “drinking the Kool-Aid,” and an inaccurate urban legend about a huge mass-suicide. This documentary shows Jim Jones and his Peoples Temple for what they actually were: a racially and economically diverse group of idealists invested in creating a utopian rural community, led astray by a charismatic psychopath. Yeah, they were a weird cult, but that’s about all I knew about this whole event. This was not mass suicide, it was a massacre; 909 people, among them a US Congressman, were either shot dead or coerced into poisoning themselves with a cyanide cocktail. Only 5 escaped.

Maybe our well-read readers know more about this historic event than I do, but I am awestruck and feel compelled to pass this story along to whoever happens across this little blog of ours. This is not the place to read about all of the horrible things that happen in the world, but as someone who is interested in utopian projects and communities, this particular tragedy among tragedies was especially terrifying.