Season of the Assassins

Remembering the deaths of George Moscone and Harvey Milk


If you thought all those assassination anniversary posts would end after November 22 was over, think again: We're just moving on to another assassination. Look what happened 35 years ago today:

Moscone dead, Milk dead, Feinstein in power—a triple tragedy.

On November 27, 1978, the ninth day after Jonestown, Daniel James White, ex-cop, former paratrooper, and superjock, an All-American Boy from everybody's favorite city, strapped on his police special .38, loaded his pockets with extra hollow-point bullets that explode upon impact, and went to San Francisco City Hall to settle some political differences.

That's from Warren Hinckle's great piece "Dan White's San Francisco," published in the libertarian magazine Inquiry in the wake of White's murder of Mayor George Moscone and City Supervisor Harvey Milk. The double assassination would be followed by one of the most infamous psychiatric legal arguments of recent history—the "Twinkie defense," in Paul Krassner's famous phrase—and by a verdict of voluntary manslaughter rather than murder. And then there came the White Night riots, when the city's gay community reacted to the jury's decision.

The whole Hinckle article is worth a read. If you need a soundtrack while you peruse it, here is the Dead Kennedys' (*) response to the White verdict:

(* You just can't escape the JFK references.)