Why do dirty hippies act like John Lennon was a saint
He physically abused both his wives, emotionally abused his son, was openly homophobic and antisemetic, was controlling and misogynist, he literally made yoko ono write a list of all the men she’d been with…
Numero uno. Were you there during the time?
Numero dos. Not all hippies were dirty. The media of the time loved to depict them that way and depict the ones who were because they actually sold to the white middle and upper class that was terrified of hippies who were anti the Vietnam War, pro anti poverty programs, and free sex. There was a joke at the time, from the point of view of a middle class man: I object to this free sex for three reasons: it’s immoral, it’s ungodly, and I ain’t gettin any. The white middle and upper classes were terrified of the hippies, and the media was paid well to make sure they were.
Numero tres. Most of the young people—not just hippies—knew none of this about John Lennon. He was singing the ideas that they cared about. The “Woman” song was trying to tap into two oppressions as people saw it: oppression of the blacks (the n word), which was ongoing, and the oppression of women, which was ongoing. No one protested the song because both groups agreed with it. You may want to read some of the history of the women’s movement and of the rise of the Black Panther Party and the SNCC for this to make sense—the n-word was unspeakable for us liberals, but for the SNCC and the Panthers it was the truth, and to the liberals of the 60s-70s that’s what Lennon was talking about.
Numero quatro. I can’t speak to his personal life. I wasn’t a worshiper or even a fan, not of his, not of the Beatles. In that time I was a strange person. Forced to a choice I picked neither Beatles nor Rolling Stones but the Doors, and o, they were flawed, so don’t even. But my closest friend was in tears when John Lennon was shot, and he stood vigil outside the Dakota that night. I have seen the tourists taking pictures of the building and the nearby Strawberry Fields mosaic.
Pablo Picasso was a brute to his women. Gaugin ditched his family and headed to Tahiti. Jim Morrison—don’t get me started. Janis Joplin screwed around and was miserable. Too many idols are lice in their personal lives. They say Martin Luther King was unfaithful to his wife repeatedly.
You may choose the personal life or the message, it’s up to you. So many people needed Lennon’s message for courage in the fight against the war in Vietnam, and they didn’t know the rest until later. You should make up your own mind. But one more thing.
There were a number of those “dirty hippie” collectives who took in people who came to San Francisco for the hippie experience—for the Summer of Love and the discovery of a free way to live—and they fed them, they housed them, they made certain they got medical care. They took in the teenaged runaways and looked after them, helping them to make their choices and often saving their lives after drug overdoses or people who were not so benevolently inclined. And they didn’t just do it in San Francisco. In city after city those people looked after each other, and they looked after the youngsters. They did far more for the lost and the lonely and the scared and the runaways and the mentally ill than the middle classes and the upper classes ever did for them. So, really—how dirty were they?