Vincent Bugliosi is arguably one of the most successful prosecutors in American history. Many will recall his prosecution of Charles Manson. In recent years, he might be best known for his 1650 page magnum opus, Reclaiming History: The Assassination of John F Kennedy. Bugliosi tells us Reclaiming History will be made into a series by Tom Hanks in the coming years.
Bugliosi called the United States Supreme Court to task, for their ruling in the 2000 Bush vs. Gore case in his book, The Betrayal of America: How the Supreme Court Undermined the Constitution and Chose Our President, as well as penning The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, which was published in 2008. Attorney Bugliosi is currently laboring to find a prosecutor to bring charges against former President Bush, for war crimes.
As far as what’s coming up for the famed attorney, Vincent’s latest book, Divinity of Doubt: The God Question, covers agnosticism. He calls it a very powerful read and he’s very excited about it. If religion and God are a big part of your life, he recommends you don’t read it. In a preview of the book, coming out in April, Bugliosi shares with us a few of his conclusions. Those conclusions are likely to stir debate and controversy.
He claims the Bible puts forth a strong argument for no free will. If that’s the case, Bugliosi asks, how does God punish you if everything is predetermined? Secondly, he came to the conclusion that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was not a virgin.
Vincent Bugliosi states that, when it comes to his opinions, his arguments and conclusions are based on where all the available information and evidence takes him.
We had the opportunity to discuss a variety of things with Vincent. Among them, we spoke with him, in detail, about the subject of talking heads in the media – the so called experts who might not be particularly informed about the subjects they speak about. Bugliosi sheds light on this phenomenon, using insights and information he gleaned from the murder trial of O.J. Simpson.
You can read and or listen to the entire 40 plus minute interview below.
Listen to the Vincent Bugliosi CYInterview:
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Chris Yandek: Before we get into everything, what’s going on in your life today?
Vincent Bugliosi: “Well, I have a book about to come out right now in April, Divinity of Doubt: The God Question. It’s about agnosticism. You know, on the spectrum of religious belief, there is atheism – these are people that don’t believe. There’s theism – these are the believers and agnostics say it’s beyond comprehension that the whole issue of God us unknowable. You might be interested to know that perhaps the greatest mind of the 20th century Einstein, the one time that he actually used one of these appellations was in a letter about five years before he died and he referred to himself as an agnostic. Darwin was an agnostic. I can say that I’m more excited about this book than any other book in my entire career.
I’m not saying it’s my magnum opus. That remains Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President Kennedy. Which by the way, Tom Hanks and his people are gonna be doing a eight hour mini series on in 2013, which is the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. So that’s my magnum opus. But the reason I’m more excited about this book and you’re asking what I’m doing now, it’s going through the copy editing phase right now is that we’re talking about a 2000 year old conversation here and no one has brought anything new to the table for a long time. Believe it or not, you’d have to look at the book; I bring a lot to the table. It’ll literally shake the very foundations of Christianity. Now that’s a very assertive all-encompassing statement, sounds very boastful, but the fact is it’s an incredible book. I’m just extremely excited about it.
I know you want to talk to me today about people thinking they know things when they don’t know anything at all. The one review of the book so far we’ve only sent it out to one person. It’s going to be sent out to the entire media, but the book hasn’t come out yet. So this was an early draft. It was sent out to Frank Schaffer, who’s written many books on religion. His best selling book was called Crazy for God. He says something that pertains to what we’re going to be talking about today. He said, ‘I wish I’d written this deeply moving antidote to the false certainties both religious and irreligious that have divided our society into warring camps, yammering at each other about things no one understands.’
So that’s the thing that I’m on now, Divinity of Doubt, but it is amazing Chris, at least to me, that people can be so passionate and argue so vehemently on things they know so little about. That’s just a part of human nature. It doesn’t have to be that way. To be candid, I’m not that way. Lot of times I’ll speak on a college campus and afterwards or before, I’ll have lunch with the faculty and they start asking me questions. What’s your opinion on this? What’s your opinion on that? I say, well you know, I really don’t know. I haven’t done that much thinking about it.
Then there’s a point and time where there is a quizzical look on their faces. Isn’t this the guy that I see on TV so aggressively stating things that he knows this and he knows that. Well, the reality is that you could find very fewer people in this country who have fewer opinions than I do. However, I’m very opinionated. Meaning that, when I do form an opinion, I’m very aggressive about it. But I don’t form that opinion until I’ve done a tremendous amount of work. Like I wrote a book on drugs years ago. I took two years out of my life to study the drug problem. Reclaiming History on the Kennedy case, I worked on that book for 20 years. So, short of that, my position is that I don’t have, when people have such a strong opinion about global warming, immigration, years ago NAFTA, stuff like that, I feel that to form a strong opinion, you have to be knowledgeable about the subject. You have to have access to all the relevant information. You gotta be literally an expert.
Short of that, I just don’t form any strong opinions, but then when I do, I have to admit, I’m extremely opinionated. The greatest thinker of all or supposedly the philosopher by which most philosophers are measured, he’s the standard, Socrates, he supposedly said, you know, Socrates never put anything in writing that we know of, nothing has survived. We know about Socrates through Plato said, ‘The only thing that I know is that I don’t know anything.’ I haven’t gotten that far to say that, but I measure my opinions; I only form an opinion when I feel that I’ve done sufficient research and have sufficient access to information. So I gave you a very long answer to your question of what I’m doing now, but it’s Divinity of Doubt.
The thing that is uppermost in my mind however believe it or not is not Divinity of Doubt although that’s the book that I’m the most excited about of any book I’ve ever put out. But the thing that’s most uppermost in my mind and will continue to be until I hit a brick wall is that I am dead serious, dead serious about going after George Bush, trying to get him into an American courtroom and prosecute him for what happened in Iraq. You know I wrote a book on that, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, it was blacked out by the mainstream media.
I’ll say this about the New York Times, pretty big article about it, it wasn’t about the case or what I say in my book, but they were puzzled that a book that was being blacked out including by the New York Times, their book section, was nonetheless a New York Times Bestseller. Well, the reason it was is I got tremendous word of mouth and I did appear in the alternative media, but the mainstream media essentially blacked me out.
The evidence in the case is overwhelming and I presented some of it when I testified before the House Judiciary Committee in 2008 in Washington. The evidence is overwhelming that Bush took this nation to war on a lie under false pretenses and therefore under the law Chris, he’s guilty of murder for the deaths of over 4000 young American soldiers who have died in the Iraqi war.
We shouldn’t forget Chris about the over 100,000, in fact some estimates place it in excess of one million, the over 100,000 innocent Iraqi men, women and children and babies who’ve died horrible violent deaths because of George Bush’s war. So as were talking right now Chris, there’s over 100,000 precious human beings in their cold graves right now as I’m talking to you because of George Bush. Yet Bush up to now, has gotten away with all of this. Meaning, he’s gotten away with murder, with thousands of murders. No one is doing anything about it. He’s enjoying life as he was throughout this entire ordeal.
The evidence is very clear that young American soldiers, we’re talking about 18, 19 year old kids who never had a chance to live out their dreams were being blown to pieces by roadside bombs in Iraq. Bush was having a lot of fun, enjoying life to the fullest. Right now, to the very moment that we’re talking about, he was interviewed recently for Parade Magazine, he says he’s happy, he’s enjoying life to the fullest. The purpose of my book is not an exercise in utility. I’m looking for a prosecutor to go after him and dead serious about it. I will be offering my services in any way that any prosecutor sees fit, which would be as a consultant, all the way up to and including being appointed a special prosecutor. In fact in 2008, you may or not be aware of this Chris, but in Vermont.”
VB: “A candidate for the attorney general’s office up there entered the race late and lost against a very strong incumbent, a Democratic incumbent. That was a strong year for Democrats of course. Anyway, I was with her in Burlington, Vermont and at the press conference she announced that if she won, she was gonna appoint me special prosecutor to seek a criminal indictment against Bush, Cheney, Rice and whoever else the grand jury evidence pointed to. I have to measure my words. All I can tell you is and I can’t say anything more is that I’m making progress.
I’m not gonna say anything else. I’m making progress in my effort to find a prosecutor who has the courage to step forward and say wait, while this is the United States of America, no one’s above the law. No man is above the law and if the evidence is there, this guy’s gotta be prosecuted for murder. So that’s the thing that remains with me, but in the interim, I’m completing, just about completing my book Divinity of Doubt.”
CY: As we’re gonna talk about, the state of the media, talking heads, you have the ability to just represent the truth, get the facts, put them out there and that’s it. I wonder what you think about the talking heads in the legal forums, that are on the media and the media in general today?
VB: “Well, we had talked earlier when you called to get into the classic example of talking heads knowing nothing about what they’re talking about and that’s the Simpson case, which we can talk about for a moment, but I think it’s equally applicable that there are too many people on TV that really don’t have sufficient information speaking so affirmatively about things. The one thing that’s enabled me to write books like Outrage and Helter Skelter and stuff like that and state things that are kind of shocking to people even though they’re not that perceptive, it’s just that I was able to see it.
It’s not because of any special intelligence that I have. I don’t view myself as a particularly intelligent people, but I do have one ability that I’ve demonstrated over and over again, that’s helped me see things that other people for whatever reason have not seen. That’s that most people Chris see what they expect to see, what they want to see, what conventional wisdom tells them to see. I guess it could be stated that most people only hear the music, not the lyrics of human events. In Divinity of Doubt, I ask a question, I’m not gonna ask you, although while I’m saying this, you can be thinking”
CY: Yeah. Sure.
VB: “about what your answer would be. Just see if I can find it here. It’s on Winston Churchill. Here’s a question I ask because I’m telling the reader that when they read Divinity of Doubt, look at what’s in front of you, not what you’ve been told or what you expect or what you want to see, but what’s in front of you and that’s guided my entire career as a prosecutor. My only master, my only mistress are the facts and the evidence. So if I reach a conclusion, it’s only because the evidence took me there.
So whenever you hear me talk about anything, you never know what I’m going to say until the words come out of my mouth. I’m not one of these Rush Limbaugh individuals, you know what he’s going to say before it comes out of his mouth. Whatever the Democrats say, not 99 percent of the time, 100 percent of the time, he’s on the opposite side. That’s not the way I am. You just don’t what I’m going to say until I say it and that’s because I’m only looking at the facts and the evidence. Here’s a hypothetical question that I posed to the readers in the preface to Divinity of Doubt; I write ‘If you were told that Winston Churchill said something about World War 2 and a bum in a bowery gutter said something quite the opposite, who would you believe?’
And I say there’s only one answer to that question and it’s not the one that 99 percent of the people would reflexively give, Winston Churchill. The only proper answer to that question is , ‘I’d have to hear what they’d have to say.’ This is obviously true because we know just as a wise man can say something foolish, a fool can say something wise. Now if neither Churchill nor the bum had weighed in on the issue yet and you were asked who is more likely to say something intelligent?”
CY: About it?
VB: “About the matter, the obvious answer would be.”
CY: Winston Churchill.
VB: “Churchill, yeah. He’s written volumes on the Second World War. But once he’s weighed in and once the bum has weighed in, there’s only one intelligent answer. Well, I’d have to hear what they had to say.”
CY: And then maybe you’d have to research what they had to say.
VB: “Yeah, yeah, right. Most people would say, are you joking me? Of course, Winston Churchill. So you have to look at what’s in front of you. Now, I think the classic example of people talking about things they knew nothing about and in Reclaiming History by the way, you got over 70 percent of the American public who believe that there was a conspiracy in the assassination and to Tom Hank’s credit, he wants to turn those numbers around. He’s an extremely well, well respected person. Not just as an actor, but intellectually and his character and everything about him. I have to compliment him for taking on something like this and he wants to turn those numbers around.
Over 70 percent of the American public actually believes that there’s a conspiracy, but what I do in Reclaiming History, I prove literally beyond all doubt that there was no conspiracy in the Kennedy Assassination. Many people have said that Reclaiming History is the last word on the case. It’s a book, 1650 pages of course. But here you have all of these people thinking they know about the Kennedy Assassination, for instance, the magic bullet. They say that the Warren Commission used that to prove that the one shot that went through Kennedy went on to hit [John] Connally and it’s just a fabricated bullet. I’m not gonna get into it now, but if you read the book, you find out there’s only one group that has a magic bullet. It’s not the Warren Commission. It’s the conspiracy theorists cause if that bullet didn’t go on to hit Connally, what happened to it?
Did it vanish into thin air? There’s no evidence of any bullet going through Kennedy and damaging the interior of the limousine. The physical relationship of Connally vis-à-vis Kennedy was such that a bullet passing through soft tissue in Kennedy’s body had nowhere else to go, but to go on and hit Kennedy since Connally was seated to the left front of Kennedy. So who’s got the magic bullet here? If it didn’t hit Connally, what happened to that bullet? Anyway, that’s a classic example of people thinking they know what happened and they don’t know what happened at all. Now in the Simpson case, which is a classic case, that was the biggest murder case in terms of publicity.”
CY: And media circus, media circus, media circus.
VB: “Yeah, yeah. The only other case that would rank probably even above it in publicity, at least available publicity, was the Lindbergh murder case in New Jersey in 1935. Actually the murder and kidnapping took place in 1932. But in terms of”
VB: “not relative, but absolute number, the Simpson case was the biggest publicity case and the biggest media circus like you say Chris in American History. Talk about people thinking they know all about the subject. Let’s just briefly look at the outlandish.”
CY: Sure. Go in any direction you want, go in any direction you want.
VB: “Well, let’s look at the outlandish spectacle the TV talking heads of the Simpson case, who actually by the way Chris, may have had an influence”
CY: On the Jury.
VB: “on the verdict. In that, if their insipid remarks reached the jury as they almost assuredly did to a certain extent by way of osmosis, conjugal visits at the hotel where they were staying, it could only be harmful to the prosecution. The reason I say this is because really all these silly commentators were always talking about the enormous problems that the prosecution was having frequently suggesting that their case was falling apart.
But Chris, if you look at things objectively, how could the D.A.’s case be falling apart, which means I guess that the prosecution couldn’t win, doesn’t it? When the evidence as you know puts Simpson’s blood at the murder scene and the victim’s blood inside his car and home, unless the defense was able to remove that blood, which it never did, objectively speaking, you have the strongest case in the world. Like I always said at the time, when your blood is found at the murder scene, that’s the end of the ball game, there’s nothing more to say.
Moreover, the notion of using these particular talking heads for legal analysis on the Simpson case was ludicrous on its face. When we have analysts today for any newsworthy event, normally the analysts are people at the top of their profession. I don’t follow professional football that much at all, but who are the analysts Chris? You probably know better than I do.”
CY: Jim Nantz.
VB: “People like Terry Bradshaw.”
CY: Terry Bradshaw, Jim Nantz, Troy Aikman, Joe Buck, Dan Dierdorf.
VB: “Dan Marino.”
CY: Dan Dierdorf. Dan Marino. Correct.
VB: ‘But these are some of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play the game.”
CY: Coaches and quarterbacks.
VB: “Yeah. Right. Not just quarterbacks, right. And tennis I do follow it at least.”
CY: The McEnroes obviously, Chris Everett.
VB: “Yeah. McEnroe, Martina Navratilova. These are tennis legends. Now let’s look at the qualifications Chris on the other hand of the talking heads in the Simpson trial. At least nine out of 10 I had never seen or heard of before in this case. Never heard of them. Most had never been on national television, many not even on local television yet suddenly they’re fixtures on the evening national news. People previously know many of them only to their immediate families. Although this was a great opportunity for them to get their faces on television night after night and their friends, neighbors recognized them and say, ‘Hey! I saw you on Larry King last night.’”
CY: They lacked the credentials. They lacked the credentials.
VB: “Right. The problem was the majority of them didn’t know what the heck they were talking about. Now, the incongruous sideshow of these so called experts pontificating on how to try a criminal case was laughable Chris. Listen to this and I verified this, many had never tried a murder case in their entire career and it’s gets worse, several of them, believe it or not, were not even criminal lawyers. They were civil lawyers. Never handled any kind of a criminal case in their entire life. You’d think that under the circumstances they would’ve been embarrassed to serve as analysts, but to the contrary, this didn’t inhibit them at all from trying to come across like Delphic oracles to millions of people. Yet they couldn’t go more than two or three minutes, I’d watch them now and then, without saying something completely ridiculous, but how would a listener, how would they ever know?
I just want to give you a couple of examples because they’re in my book Outrage, which again here is another situation of, I don’t know if you’re aware of this, you may or may not be aware of this, but after the trial, the conventional wisdom as Newsweek said, conventional wisdom is that this case was lost the moment the predominantly black jury was seated. In other words, it wasn’t the prosecutors fault at all. They did an excellent job. Dominick Dunne did a documentary and said that, ‘Marcia Clark was just brilliant, just brilliant.’ Gil Garcetti, the D.A., gave Clark and Darden bonuses, bonuses. Clark got a 4.2 million dollar advance of her book. The consensus everywhere was that it was all the fault of the jury. Millions of people saw that. Okay? Now again I’m not boasting. I’m just talking about the facts.
VB: “I call it Outrage. And, for the first time I say, wait a while folks. You know, the jury was bad in this case, major big time bad jury, but the prosecution was even worse, was even worse. It was so bad that – and by the way – I’m pro-prosecution all the way. I mean I even sent these people a telegram in the morning of their summation saying, go get ‘em, urging them on. So I was pro-prosecution all the way, but I was talked into writing the book by my editor at Norton. I said, ‘I gotta finish my book on the Kennedy case’ and I said no.’ Then they called back and said you gotta do it. So I ended up doing the book.
I had a choice, either tell the truth, write the book or don’t write the book at all. So I write the book, it comes out, immediately shoots up to number one New York Times Hardcover Bestseller. Page after page, example after example I point out that the prosecution was unbelievably incompetent almost to the point of being unprecedented. The consensus everywhere was why didn’t we see these things? Well, people get tied up in the hoopla, the reputation, the what’s the word?”
CY: Not the ability to analyze something.
VB: “Yeah. Propaganda and not see what’s right in front of them in its pristine condition. So, ‘cause I got the book in front of me here, what happened, Liz Smith, she wrote a review of the book, of Outrage for Newsday and she said words to the effect if I recall them correctly, is everyone in this country wrong, except Vincent Bugliosi? Then she goes on to say, well, he makes a very strong case that this is so. The New York Times talking about the fact that I blamed the prosecution said, ‘Bugliosi puts the blame where it belongs.’ The Los Angeles Times said, ‘No one who reads this book will ever again believe that the most publicized acquittal in the history of American jurisprudence was solely the result of juror prejudice or the machinations of unscrupulous defense attorneys. In Outrage, the D.A. and the prosecutors have been called before the bar of justice.’
Now the reason I was able to do that is just to look at what was in front of my eyes and not think, well, there’s 1000 prosecutors down there, the D.A’s office, Garcetti picked these two, they must be great. Well, maybe they were great in the past, but that’s irrelevant. I looked at what was in front of me and I saw staggering, staggering incompetence. But I just want to give you a couple examples.”
CY: Yeah sure.
“from the book of these silly talking heads. Here’s one right here, I’m not gonna give you the name. Actually the name is not even in the book. ‘The prosecution has no case without the domestic violence evidence.’ (Laughs) So in other words, just forget about all the blood at the murder scene that belongs to Simpson and victims’ blood inside his car and home. They have no case unless they can put on domestic violence evidence. They didn’t put on as much as they had, but that’s helpful, but that’s extremely peripheral. Just because you beat your wife up does not mean that you murdered her and her male companion, but here’s this silly talking head saying the prosecution has no case without the domestic violence evidence. Here’s another one, ‘Johnny Cochran bringing out that the L.A.P.D hadn’t found the murder weapon was just superb cross examination.”
CY: Well what do you expect him to do?
VB: “A two year old could bring that out Chris. The murder weapon’s very, very important in a criminal case. The prosecution would like to have it whether it’s a gun or knife or what have you so they can try to connect it with the defendant, but frequently.”
CY: It doesn’t happen.
VB: “Yeah. Frequently doesn’t happen. If it doesn’t, a two year could ask the detectives if he found the murder weapon, which they did and he said no. By the way, that should’ve been brought up by the prosecution. You always should preempt. In fact, I’m gonna be speaking down at Camp Pendleton next month to Marine prosecutors on the West Coast and that’s one of the points that I’ll be making to them that when you have something that is potentially negative to your side, you bring it out yourself, you don’t wait on cross examination for them to say, ‘So you don’t have the murder weapon in this case right?’ You bring it out in a matter of fact way. You preempt. It prevents a left hook into a left jab.
One of the points I’ll be making. I’ll be talking for about two and a half hours down there. So here, Cochran asked the LAPD detectives do you have the murder weapon? They say no and this silly talking head says this is superb cross-examination. Listen to this one Chris, you’re gonna get a kick out of this one. ‘OJ’s elderly mother is sitting in the courtroom and I doubt the prosecution’s evidence will be able to overcome that type of emotional pull with the jury towards OJ.’ Translation, even if he’s guilty and the jury thinks he’s guily, they’re not gonna be able to do it because his mother is in the courtroom and she’s sympathetic. So these people had a sweet tooth for silliness, night in and night out.”
CY: Gotta fill the airtime, gotta fill the airtime one way or another. You gotta fill the airtime.
VB: “Yeah I know. Would people know this is all silly Chris?”
CY: Leaving that topic, before we leave that topic, that’s what cable news has become today.
VB: “Yes. Yeah. Well, I have to tell you this, I’m not against TV. I think it’s wonderful. I’m not one of these people who says, ‘I don’t watch TV much.’ Or looks down their nose at TV and they watch it for 20, 30 hours a week. I’m so busy. I work seven days a week that I just don’t watch TV. So I’m someone that says that it’s great and when I say it’s great Chris, there’s all types of garbage on TV. On the other hand, it’s pretty great. A President speaks and you’re right there, you’re hearing his speech. You want to watch Wimbledon, Wimbledon is in your living room.
You turn the channel and they’re taking you to Egypt and they’re showing the protest. So it takes you all over the world. You can be the wealthiest man in the world, you’d never be able to be to see what television shows you. So I can’t really comment on it too much because I hardly ever watch it. About the only TV I watch, Wimbledon finals, US Open, French Open finals. Then I’ll watch a presidential debate. I hardly ever watch TV, but I just want to make one more point on the Simpson case.”
CY: Sure. Why not.
VB: “Why would I care Chris about these silly talking heads? Like you say, they fill up airtime. Why would I care about them babbling and ranting on TV almost around the clock? Actually, I wouldn’t have cared that much if Simpson had been convicted.”
CY: They influenced the jury.
VB: “I think they may have Chris and I can’t be positive about this, but I think they may have contributed even if not in a major way to the not guilty verdict. The reason I say this, is that the majority of them were criminal defense attorneys. You follow? Who whenever possible Chris, they’d offer a pro Simpson, pro defense interpretation of what was happening in court, magnifying defense points far beyond their worth and muting important points made by the prosecution.
Like the print media, they were constantly finding problems and weakness with the prosecution’s evidence that either did not exist or they exaggerated it. These negative interpretations Chris, of the prosecution’s case, were as I described in Outrage, in the air, everyday and every night. So they became kind of the conventional wisdom, the party line as it were. If the jury somehow inferred by conjugal visits or osmosis, I say osmosis because you know it’s, when something’s in the air, even if you’re being isolated, to a certain extent, you may hear.”
CY: You can still hear it from someone, from somebody. Someone blabs.
VB: “Yeah. If the jury inferred that the consensus of the community was that the prosecution’s case was full of holes and falling apart, how could this not at least help or certainly there’s a possibility of it helping to push them consciously or otherwise in the direction of reasonable doubt and hence the not guilty verdict. So I’ve spent a lot of time on Outrage. I know you wanted me to comment on talking heads.”
CY: You gave the best examples that these people were uniformed. It’s as simple as that. They were uninformed.
CY: A lot of people, of course, ask you about the Manson trials. What do you reflect upon on most from that time when people ask you about it?
VB: “Oh boy. Well, it, when I think back upon it, a couple of things come into my mind. Number one by the way, prior to the Simpson Case, it was the biggest publicity murder case that we’d ever had here in L.A.. The Simpson case, of course, almost dwarfed the Manson case. The Manson case would’ve been bigger if they had television cameras in the courtroom, which they didn’t, but it still wouldn’t have been as big as the Simpson case. I also think obviously about the nightmarish nature of these murders, 169 stabbed wounds, the fact that if you’re not safe in your own home, where are you safe?
Young girls and men dressed in black entering the homes of total strangers in the middle of the night, mercilessly stabbing them to death is such a horrible thought you can’t even keep it in your mind for a couple of moments. So I think of the nightmarish nature of these murders, the fact that it was an incredibly big publicity case. Talking about osmosis, the jury, like in the Simpson case, was sequestered at a hotel. When they were driven in the bus from the Hall of Justice to the hotel at the Ambassador Hotel where they were staying, the windows of the bus were soaped up or whatever they put on them, I forget.”
CY: Tainted. (Tinted) Like tainted.
VB: “Yeah. Tainted. So they couldn’t look at the window and see headlines on street corners. I think about that. I think about Manson, this unbelievably evil guru, who if he had an opportunity was gonna murder everyone he could, murder as many people as he could. I also think about the fact that, these are some of the things that enter my mind, but I try not to talk about the case. People ask me about it all the time, but otherwise, I just never think about the Mansion case. But most people forgotten Manson and his co-defendants were sentenced to death.
But they’ll ask me, why weren’t the executed? Well, I did seek the death penalty. I told the jury that if this was not a proper case for the imposition of the death penalty, no case ever would be. That was in 1971. Then in ‘72, the California and the US Supreme Court, US Supreme Court Case Furman vs. Georgia, ruled that the death penalty was unconstitutional, not per say, but the way it was being implemented by the states, they made the ruling retroactive and everyone on death row at that time Chris, there were about 600 people on death row including Manson and his co-defendants, all of their death penalties were reduced from.”
CY: To life in prison?
VB: “Down to life prison. So now they’re serving life sentences, although Susan Atkins died recently.”
CY: Yeah. She did.
VB: “But that’s something that a lot of people forget about. But I also think that among other things, you asked me a tough question and there’s just a blizzard of things that come into my mind. It probably, I think that’s the reason for the continuing fascination in this case at such a late date. Probably was the most bizarre mass murder case ever in American history. If these murders hadn’t happened Chris and someone had written a novel with the same set of facts and circumstances, you’d probably put it down after a couple of pages.
Because as I understand it, to be good fiction, it’s gotta be somewhat believable. In this case, it’s just too far out, extremely bizarre case. You got the Bible, the Beatles, stuff like that and this little guru who they think is Jesus and the devil all wrapped up into one person, just incredibly bizarre motive, Helter Skelter. So those are many, many things that come into my mind. I think about it, but I’ve gone on to other things.”
CY: In closing, we look forward to the book coming out in April, we really do. In closing, what do you want the readers to take away from it or give us a little preview?
VB: “You’re gonna be surprised to know I’ve been living with the Bible for a year and I’ve done research on it before. The Bible, contrary to what people think, actually puts forth a strong case for no free will, no free will. Ok? Now that’s gonna be shocking, but one thing about me, I never, never ever make a charge without supporting it. You may not agree with me, but I always offer tremendous amount of support. So the Bible puts forth a strong case for no free will and that’s a real problem you know, because the justification for supposedly being punished after death is that you had free will. If you didn’t have free will and you did what God predetermined, then how can he punish you?”
CY: All of our actions would be predetermined.
VB: “Yeah. I also present evidence, hard to believe, but you’d have to read the book that from the Bible itself, from the Bible itself, Jesus was not born of a virgin. Now you have to look at the New Testament, Book of Matthew and go all the way back to Isaiah in the Old Testament, which Matthew based his opinion on that he was not born of a virgin. You know what that does. If you knock that out, then you knock out the position of Christianity that he was son of God and that God had him die on the cross for our sins, that literally ravages Christianity. I’ll be interested to see what the Vatican responds to this.
My view is they’d rather stare into the noon-day sun than address themself to this issue. I also point out that there’s no scriptural basis for the immortality of the soul. These are really, really heavy things. When books come out on religion today, what are they about, well, Noah’s Ark or when we go to heaven, does our body or soul go to heaven? What was the name of the book? The? The code, something about a code.”
CY: The Da Vinci Code.
VB: “The Da Vinci Code. Yeah. The Da Vinci Code. Who is seated at the last supper? Well, as brilliant as Da Vinci was, he didn’t know anymore about who was seated at the last super if there ever was a last super than you or I or Yogi Berra. Well, no one is bringing anything new to the table and here I’m pointing out that for instance, there’s no immortality of the soul that you can infer from the Bible. Now here’s the importance of that, we know when the body dies, that’s it.
If Christianity cannot present evidence that the soul is immortal, then they have nothing to offer the masses, eternity in heaven with God or hold over their heads suffering forever in hell. So they need the immortality of the soul. Well, it turns out and I did my research, it’s not in the Bible, so what do they do? Well, they relied on Judaism. Judaism has always believed in the immortality of the soul. So I start checking on that and I look in the Judaica Encyclopedia and what do I find? Their remark that Judaism probably got, probably the immortality of the soul from the Greeks, so I go back further, where it all started was with Plato. Plato has four presuppositions, four presuppositions that led to his conclusion that the soul was immortal, but you know, like I say in the book, if somebody presupposes that I have wings, maybe I can fly. You follow?
VB: “So when you look at the basis for the immortality of the soul, you have these foundationless speculations and really, no intelligent reason for believing that there’s life after death. These are just some of the things I talk about in the book. It’s very, very powerful. So powerful in fact and I’m not exaggerating this, that my daughter said, ‘Dad.’ Because she kind of believes in Jesus and God. She said, ‘Dad, I don’t want you to hurt anyone by this book ‘cause people, so many people believe in Jesus and God’ And I don’t disbelieve.
An agnostic says, hey, there may be Jesus and God. I believe that a man named Jesus did it exist and I kind of speculate in the book precisely who he is, but I don’t say there is no God. But she said, ‘There’s so many people, their entire life is built around religion.’ I’m gonna say this when I go out on the road and I mean it, whether people believe me or not, I don’t know, but I’m sincere. It’s not one of these, what do they call it, forbidden fruit things. You tell people not to do something, that’s the exact thing that they do.
It’s most applicable to children. I’m gonna be absolutely sincere in telling people that if Christianity and religion is a very, very big part of their lives and it means everything to them, it’s kind of an anchor in their life, do not read the book. Now if people think I’m just trying to get people to buy the book, fine. I can’t. But I’m telling you and I’m dead serious, this book is so powerful and the guy, Frank Schaffer that looked at the book, his father was a theologian. He grew up in a family where they were talking about religion and God all the time. He’s written several books on religion. He looks at one of the early drafts of the book and he said, ‘I found myself following my wife around the house reading passages from the book to her. You follow?”
VB: “It’s amazing that I’ve come up with that stuff, but that’s reality. If people think I’m bragging or boasting fine, but I’m more excited about this book than any other book that I’ve ever written, although as I say, my magnum opus remains Reclaiming History.”
You can find out more information and purchase a copy of Divinity of Doubt: The God Question Clicking here