As some of you may have heard, the beginning of the end did NOT occur this past Saturday. In preparation for a return to posting I'm stretching my legs a bit with this story. Since everyone else in the blog-world is writing about it I figure I might as well join in. What does Harold Camping have to do with the Midwest Axe Murders? You have to humor me to get there.
When a good speaker believes what he's saying strongly enough, it's quite easy to convince others of the truth of their words. For the most part, we hear only of those who use their conviction and voice for bad things, like starting World War II. Indeed the term "Drinking the Kool-Aid" derives from one such infamous event carried out at the behest of a charismatic madman. Now Mr. Camping doesn't deserve the same condemnation as the two examples above, but he clearly believed in his own words and those words led to bad decisions being made by others, as well as significant windfalls to his organization. James N. Wilkerson was such a fellow as well. He was a firm believer in conspiracies and weaved together a story of business rivalry, lust and money so compelling it divides a town nearly 100 years later. All the major players in the drama have long since been buried but the arguments persist. Wilkerson condemned one innocent man in the court of Public Opinion and derailed a promising political career. At the same time he may have helped exonerate a guilty man and allowed a serial mass murderer to go free; or maybe allowed the exoneration of an innocent man being railroaded by investigators desperate for a conviction. Who knows?