Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Jim Jones' followers drank the Kool-Aid

It is the birthday of cult leader Jim Jones (1931), who was best known for leading a mass suicide at Jonestown, Guyana, on November 18, 1978. The suicide, accomplished with cyanide-laced grape-flavored drink, followed the Jones-ordered murder of California Congressman Leo Ryan and others who had come to investigate Jones’ cult. Jones had been the founder and leader of the socialist Peoples Temple in San Francisco, and was politically well connected and prominent in the region, figuring in the mayoral election of George Moscone in 1975. However, in 1977, Jones abruptly left San Francisco for Guyana ahead of a pending exposé in New West magazine that contained allegations from former Temple members of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. The incident gave rise to the popular phrase “Drinking the Kool-Aid,” referring derisively to adherents to a philosophy without critical examination. Purists note that Jonestown victims drank Flavor Aid,  a less expensive powdered drink, not Kool-Aid.

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