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Languages of Murder

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 September 2018

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In early 1971, national attention was focused on two trials, the court-martial of Lieutenant William Calley for involvement in the Mylai massacre, and the trial of Charles Manson and associates for the Tate/LaBianca murders. Both trials were widely perceived as paradigmatic, though different people had different paradigms in mind. In the paradigm of the "Left," it was precisely American society that was on trial in Fort Benning. In the paradigm of the "Right," the Manson trial became the trial of the counter-culture. For some, those convinced of the imminent demise of American society, both trials together were paradigmatic of America's descent into a jungle of murderous irrationality (this last paradigm was especially prominent in foreign commentary, as, for example, in that of the German news magazine Der Spiegel).

Copyright © Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs 1972

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