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So how does one break down the numbers? Out of the 913 people who died in Jonestown, I account for “those murdered” thusly:
• I know of no one who would argue that children don’t commit suicide, and were murdered. Using National Geographic’s count, that is 246.
The numbers of seniors (over 65) numbered approximately 180. Almost no one would argue that those unable to defend themselves would be anything other than “murdered.”
The numbers of people injected with poison: For the purposes of this debate, I will split the difference between 70 and 181, arriving at 125. If I saw so many individuals with abscesses in such a proscribed area, I feel the 125 number is a reasonable approximation.
We now have 246 children, 180 seniors over age 65, and approximately 125 injected with poison. That brings us to 551 out of 913, or 60 percent.
However, I assert there are other groups of people who should fall into the category of being murdered:
• Those who drank poison believing that they had only two choices: drink the poison, or be shot by armed guards. Is that “revolutionary suicide”? No, it is not. Their deaths were coerced. The pavilion was surrounded by armed guards. People witnessed others being pulled from their seats and forced to drink or being injected.
• Those who may have voluntarily drunk the poison based on the lies of Jim Jones as told that day. Jones asserted that the children would be taken from us, that the Guyanese Defense Force was on its way and it was armed and would be shooting, etc. If someone “voluntarily” takes their life based on the lies of another, is that really suicide? Wouldn’t the perpetrator of the lie be responsible?
• Those who voluntarily drank the poison through months/years of conditioning that created a state-of-siege mentality. Oftentimes, as many survivors have learned since, the “crises” we were experiencing were – literally – manufactured by Jones himself (e.g. gun shots being fired into the community in September of ‘77). If one commits “revolutionary suicide” based on years of experience, without the knowledge that the experiences themselves were created by the leader, is that suicide? I assert it is murder.
How does one assign a numerical total to the people who fall into the above categories? It is impossible. Perhaps one guideline would be this: During the so-called “September Siege” of 1977, Jones twice asked the approximately 700 people in Jonestown “Who wants to commit revolutionary suicide?” The first vote revealed a total of two who voted “for” (Maria Katsaris and Harriett Tropp). The following day the total rose to three (Carolyn Layton, along with Maria and Harriett).
That constitutes less than one percent of Jonestown’s population who felt revolutionary suicide was an option. Were the percentages higher on November 18, 1978? I say no, not discernibly. Those who were not in Jonestown on that day bolster that argument. Of the approximately 300 or so full-time members who were not in Jonestown, only two committed suicide (one after murdering her children). Again, we are left with a figure of around one percent.
Giving much room for debate, I will say that 75 per cent of those 361 in the above named categories did not commit suicide (though, personally, I feel it is higher). That is 278 people, which – when added to the children and seniors and those injected with poison – brings us to a total of 829 people murdered, or ninety percent.
Finally, I use Jim Jones’ own words, taken from the so-called “death” tape, to refute the assertion that the majority of people meekly acquiesced in their death: “Don’t lay it [your life] down with tears and agony. Stop this hysterics! This is not the way for [people] to die.”
Jones himself tells the world what was happening in Jonestown: Tears. Agony. Hysteria. I can attest that agony and tears and hysteria (and fear) were the operative emotions of that day. The screams heard on the so-called “death” tape were far louder than those which come through on the tape itself.
Mass suicide? Or mass murder? While some did commit suicide, the vast majority of those who perished in Jonestown were murdered. Jonestown should always be considered a mass murder, with some suicide
What REALLY Happened: The Truth Is In The Numbers
The first headlines the day of the massacre read: “Cult Dies in South American Jungle: 400 Die in Mass Suicide, 700 Flee into Jungle.” By all accounts in the press, as well as People’s Temple statements there were at least 1,100 people at Jonestown. There were 809 adult passports found there, and reports of 300 children (276 found among the dead, and 210 never identified). The headline figures from the first day add to the same number: 1,100.The original body count done by the Guyanese was 408, and this figure was initially agreed to by U.S. Army authorities on site. However, over the next few days, the total of reported dead began to rise quickly. The Army made a series of misleading and openly false statements about the discrepancy. The new total, which was the official final count, was given almost a week later by American authorities as 913. A total of 16 survivors were reported to have returned to the U.S.
Where were the others cult members?
At their first press conference, the Americans claimed that the Guyanese “could not count.” These local people had carried out the gruesome job of counting the bodies, and later assisted American troops in the process of poking holes in the flesh lest they explode from the gasses of decay. Then the Americans proposed another theory — they had missed seeing a pile of bodies at the back of the pavilion. The structure was the size of a small house, and they had been at the scene for days. Finally, we were given the official reason for the discrepancy — bodies had fallen on top of other bodies, adults covering children.It was a simple, if morbid, arithmetic that led to the first suspicions. The 408 bodies discovered at first count would have to be able to cover 505 bodies for a total of 913. In addition, those who first worked on the bodies would have been unlikely to miss bodies lying beneath each other since each body had to be punctured. Eighty-two of the bodies first found were those of children, reducing the number that could have been hidden below others. A search of nearly 150 photographs, aerial and close-up, fails to show even one body lying under another, much less 500.
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Originally posted by Donnie Darko
Jonestown was HUGE. it happened three times longer ago than 9/11, and killed only 1/3 as many people, but it gets like, less than 0.01% the coverage.
A tape designated by the FBI as Q 875 was found along with the hundreds of others at Jonestown. There was apparently nothing special about the location of the tape, or any differences in appearance to distinguish it from the others, or anything else. It was just there. As opposed to all the other tapes, though, this is the only tape made after the deaths.
Q 875 consists of four broadcast news stories recorded off the air on November 19, 1978, all concerning the deaths of Congressman Leo Ryan and members of his party "last night" at the Port Kaituma airstrip in Guyana. Two of the broadcasts are of Guyanese origin, and two are American, including an ABC broadcast. The first newscast includes "unconfirmed reports reaching Georgetown" of mass suicide at Jonestown. Later broadcasts said that Temple attorneys Charles Garry and Mark Lane are safe, although at the time there was still "nothing [confirmed] about reports of mass suicide in the commune."
This tape consists of four news stories recorded off the air on November 19, 1978, all concerning the deaths of Congressman Leo Ryan and members of his party “last night” at the Port Kaituma airstrip in Guyana. Two of the broadcasts are of Guyanese origin, and two are American, including an ABC broadcast.
The first newscast includes “unconfirmed reports reaching Georgetown” of mass suicide at Jonestown. Later reports said that Temple attorneys Charles Garry and Mark Lane are safe, although at the time there was still “nothing about reports of mass suicide in the commune.”
The reports are sketchy and somewhat inaccurate on detail. For example, Patty Parks, the only defecting Temple member who was killed at the airstrip, is identified as Patty Mark.
Throughout the broadcasts, there are unknown people moving about at the recording end. Doors open and close, chairs squeak, voices murmur, voices shush others, there is at least one electronic beep of some duration. More importantly, the stories coming out of the Northwest District are the only items on the tape. As a new story begins, someone tunes the radio to another station – ostensibly looking for more coverage? – then turns the recording equipment off.
Almost as important, the voices are American Even though most of the conversation is unintelligible, there are a couple of exceptions. When the ABC broadcast cuts to the interview with Autumn Ryan, the congressman’s mother, someone says quietly, “Oh boy.” During the third broadcast – which was the last on side one – someone says “#” following word that there will be autopsies done on the bodies at the airstrip. Whether the speaker was referring to the decision to perform the autopsies, or was upset about something else unrelated, there is no way of knowing.
1) Who made the tape? Most of the people at Jonestown were dead. The few known surviving members of the Jonestown community had left considerably earlier – some before the deaths actually started – or were stunned by what surrounded them when they returned after escaping to the bush. Yet the people who made this tape were calm, competent and even methodical in the recording.
On the other hand, there were no confirmed reports of the mass deaths when the recordings were made. That means it was much too early for the known Guyanese military or American State Department personnel to have arrived on the scene. Anyone representing a governmental agency on the ground at that time was there earlier by one or two days than any acknowledged presence.
2) Where was the tape made? It seems to have been made in the Jonestown radio room. The space is small with the echoes of an interior setting, there are sounds of metallic and/or heavy objects being shifted, and there is an electronic pulse near the end of the last segment. Moreover, the tape is similar in tone to many of the other tapes made at that location.
It could have been made in the Georgetown radio room – and if the recorded ABC broadcast was from a television instead of a radio, that might be more likely – but that adds an additional layer of questions about transporting the tape to the Jonestown settlement.
3) What were people doing as they made the tape? The Guyana military personnel who came into Jonestown on Monday found a contaminated crime scene. There had been some looting – attributed to Amerindians and Guyanese living in the area – and more looting followed. By the time American military personnel arrived to clean up the bodies, some buildings had been ransacked, and paper was strewn everywhere. Were the people who made the tape doing other things at the same time, cloaking it under the mess of simultaneous vandalism?
4) Why did anyone bother to make a tape? The other Jonestown tapes documented the history of Peoples Temple; they gave lessons, either instructional or institutional; they included loyalty oaths and statements that could be used against people who defected; they provided entertainment in the form of music or comedy. Even the so-called “death tape” can be considered part of the continuum, a final message of resistance, defiance and political outrage directed to the world outside.
This tape does none of the above. It is an obituary, written in first person, by the deceased, after death. The motivation for making the tape defies reasonable explanation.
5) Who left the tape behind, and why?
Newscaster: Tom Rushton said autopsies will be performed on the bodies before they’re brought back to the United States.
Person at recording end: (a bad word for poop).