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I’m With Stupid – November 21, 2014

by Todd Hartley

Todd Hartley-smallHave you heard about this woman who’s going to marry Charles Manson? No, seriously, some 26-year-old woman originally from Illinois got a marriage license and is reportedly all set to marry one of America’s most infamous criminals in December. I don’t know the woman personally, so I don’t want to come right out and call her stupid, but let’s be realistic: Few people have ever done anything stupider.

The woman, whose given name is Afton Burton, claims she became smitten with Manson 10 years ago after reading about his environmental leanings. I’m guessing she must have skimmed the first part of his bio — the part that talks about all the murders and whatnot — and did a poor job of gleaning information from it. It’s pretty impressive that anyone could read up on Manson and come away thinking, “Oh, he’s an environmentalist.”

But for whatever reason, Burton liked what she read, prompting her to move at age 19 to Corcoran, California, to be closer to Manson, who is incarcerated at Corcoran State Prison. Once there, she changed her name to Star (the name Squeaky having already been taken), carved an X into her forehead at Manson’s behest and started operating a handful of websites that claim Manson is innocent and should be released from prison.

OK, then. Good luck with that, Star.

Just the thought of anyone imbecilic enough to want to marry a guy serving a life sentence for multiple murders got me thinking about reasons why the marriage probably won’t quite work out the way Burton hopes. The following are my top five:

No. 1: The age gap is likely insurmountable. Manson just turned 80, making him 54 years older than his bride-to-be. A recent study by researchers at Emory University and Michigan State University found that married couples with a 10-year age difference are 39 percent more likely to get divorced than those with a one-year difference. That number rises to 95 percent for those with a 20-year age difference.

By extrapolation, that means Manson and Burton are something like 270 percent more likely to get divorced than most same-age couples. That would be fine if Burton were as smart as, say, Anna Nicole Smith, who married a wealthy old guy, but I’m guessing Manson has very little to give Burton in a divorce settlement. Also, he’s probably smart enough to make her sign a prenuptial agreement to protect his cache of cigarettes and other prison contraband.

No. 2: Intimacy is important in a marriage, and there will be none between Manson and Burton. There are few things creepier to me than the thought of a 26-year-old woman having sex with an 80-year-old man. Fortunately, we don’t have to think about that in the case of Manson and Burton. The two are only allowed to hug briefly at the beginning and end of each meeting, and according to prison rules, they won’t be allowed to have conjugal visits because Manson is serving a life sentence.

Actually, as much as she claims to love Manson, I imagine Burton is pretty relieved about that rule.

No. 3: He’s using her, and she’s too dense to see it. Asked about his plan to wed Burton, Manson told Rolling Stone magazine in 2013, “That’s a bunch of garbage. You know that, man. That’s trash. We’re just playing that for public consumption.”

Critics also believe that Manson’s environmental philosophy (air, trees, water, animals), which so attracted Burton in the first place, is merely a ploy to get young, impressionable morons to pay attention to him.

Of course, in Burton’s case, the ploy has worked perfectly. “He’s nice to everyone,” Burton said. “I’ve never seen him try to be manipulative.”

Excuse me? We are talking about Charles Manson, the guy who famously convinced a bunch of people to commit murders for him, right? No, he’s not manipulative at all.

No. 4: No one as dumb as Burton seems to be should be allowed to marry anyone. I consider this truth to be self-evident. I also believe that she should have her tubes tied to ensure her clearly defective genetic material can’t be passed on to children.

No. 5: “Helter Skelter” would be a horrible song for any bride to walk down the aisle to. Thematically, there’s nothing wrong with the song as long as you don’t think about its association with the Manson family, but it’s kind of jarring. Might I suggest “The Fool on the Hill” instead?

Todd Hartley was once engaged to Lizzie Borden, but she died in 1927 before they could tie the knot. 


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