Tag Archives: Mother Jones

“Jonestown’s Victims Have a Lesson to Teach Us, So I Listened”

Jim Jones and nearly all of his inner circle of leaders were white, but much of his cult was black. Writer Jamilah King has a family connection to the tragedy, and explores its history giving community and assistance to black Americans who had nowhere else to go:

The vast majority of … popular accounts center predominately on Jones, who was white, and the perspectives of white survivors. Each anniversary of the massacre, though, brings a more sober look at how race functioned within the church, like Sikivu Hutchinson’s 2015 novel White Nights, Black Paradise. More than 90 percent of Peoples Temple members were African American. Jones even modeled the cadences and substance of his preaching on those of a black spiritual leader named Father Divine, a sort of T.D. Jakes of the early 20th century. Of the roughly 1,000 Peoples Temple members who moved to Guyana before its tragic end there, 70 percent were black and almost half were black women. A number of those were black women over the age of 61; the burgeoning community relied in part on the $36,000 per month in Social Security benefits that these women brought in….

The Jonestown mass suicide was “the largest single loss of American civilian life outside of 9/11.”

Jonestown’s Victims Have a Lesson to Teach Us, So I Listened

You can cheer about Gawker’s death while being troubled by how it happened

Philip Bump, The Washington Post, about the announcement that Gawker is shutting down:

Its final legacy will be the way in which it was destroyed, by a man with deep pockets and a lengthy grudge who backed not only [Hulk Hogan’s sex tape lawsuit] but several others, under the theory that if one failed to decapitate the site, another might succeed. For you or me, hiring a lawyer who can defend you in court for months on end is a cost-prohibitive idea. For Thiel and other members of the hyper-wealthy class, it’s not. There’s always going to be a price for saying something someone else disapproves of. Thiel ensured that the price was as costly as it could possibly be. The smart money says that the verdict against Gawker is overturned on appeal, but, oh well. Overturning capital punishment sentences can be buggy.

It’s interesting to consider Gawker’s fate today. The Department of Justice announced that it would stop housing federal inmates at for-profit prisons, a decision that many credit to extensive reportingby Mother Jones, which spent hundreds of thousands of dollars revealing how the system worked. Mother Jones, too, was nearly destroyed financially by a billionaire who opposed their coverage, but they won. In the online media world, two makes a trend, and this trend isn’t cute.

It’s possible to cheer for Gawker’s demise while also being troubled by how it happened.

As Bump notes here, Gawker was the best and worst of online journalism. And when it was bad, it was horrible. There really is no excuse for outing gays and bisexuals the way they did. No excuse.

If you want to applaud Gawker dying, I won’t object.

On the other hand, Gawker websites have done great work, and launched the career of one journalist/technologist whom I respect highly.

Bump nails the problem with the way Thiel put Gawker down: He used his deep pockets to fund not one but several lawsuits, and lay in wait nearly a decade before the coup de grace came. You or I don’t have access to that kind of remedy. The same thing nearly happened at Mother Jones.

This is another example of the super-wealthy enjoying rights and privileges to set public policy, which you and I do not enjoy.