Jonestown Massacre

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  • Topic: Jim Jones, Jonestown, Leo Ryan
  • Pages : 8 (3067 words )
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  • Published : January 20, 2011
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The Jonestown Massacre

When the world first heard about the events of "Jonestown," there were constant cries of many families pleading for their relatives. The media flooded with the over-publication of videos and images of the massacre. The whole event came as a surprise, and the willing suicide of the members came as even a larger shock. The Jonestown massacre is hard to accept in many people's mind. Jonestown was supposed to be a perfect place; everything about it portrayed a picture of the perfect society. When everyone saw pictures of numerous dead bodies, they realized Jonestown was not a perfect place. With all of the grieving, our nation tries to figure out if it could have been prevented. The truth is that it could have been prevented and it should have been. If everyone had not been so brainwashed by Jones and paid attention to the overuse of abuse and drugs by Jones, it would have been possible for the nation as a whole to stop a tyrant.

In the society of Jonestown, abuse and punishment was a regular action. Beatings were regularly dealt out to keep control of the society. In the book the Children of Jonestown, Kenneth Wooden explains how Tracy Arterberry, a five year old girl, gets punished at Jonestown. The reason why she was punished was because she misbehaved in one of her classes. Since she misbehaved, Jones blindfolded her in the middle of the night and took her to a remote location away from the society. He then lowered Tracy deep into a well, so no living signs could be established by the young child. Once she was in the well, Jones would lower a wet rope onto her shoulder. This was to be the monster that would haunt her for the rest of her life. After Tracy was already scared, Jones would have elder members of the society hide in bushes around the well and make monster noises. This was to make Tracy think that the rope being lowered onto her shoulder was a "monster." In the story, Tracy's screams were said to be heard back at the camp (Wooden 7). This was one of the ways for Jones to implant fear into his victims' minds. There was no way that anyone could have any freedom in his society. He instilled the fact that he was Father Divine and make sure that every adult, child, or elder would follow his guidance. Other punishments that Jones used included regular beatings, the stretching of limbs, and being contained in a 6x3x4 foot box for weeks. Children or adults would be held in a box and only have a bucket for a toilet. They would go without food or water for days (Wooden 7-8). Jones wanted all of this pain to be inflicted on his members. Torture was his punishment; he wanted discipline for all.

When the children were being abused, many people asked why the parents of the children allowed Jones to do all of the abusing. "Parent's or guardians of children under eighteen were forced to sign a notarized release, prepared by Temple lawyers, which gave Jones legal permission to punish and terrorize their children or wards" (Wooden 13). Since Jones was the leader of their church, people went to extremes to please him. This act was one that he demanded. Once the children were in the custody of Jones, he was able to do anything to them that he wanted. The parents no longer had any say on what happened to their children. Once they signed the forms, they were forced to deal with the agony of what would happen to their children. The only hope left for the parents would be the possibility that their child would not be consistently abused or raped.

One way that Jones was able to distance his society from the world was by distancing members from their families. Jones told every member of his society, "It's time for you to cut your family ties. This church is your family now. Blood ties are dangerous because they prevent people from being totally dedicated to the cause" (Wooden 40). He wanted them to believe that their parents or relatives did not love them anymore. He...
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