Drinking the Kool-Aid 2016

The expression “drinking the Kool-Aid” is now deeply embedded into American slang – often as throwaway and/or commonly-understood lines in sports, business, and popular culture – with upwards of a dozen references appearing on news feeds every day. Especially in political arena, the saying has become increasingly weaponized, as partisans on all sides use it to disparage the intellectual capacity and discernment of their opponents.

Nevertheless, there have been several serious considerations of the phrase in several commentaries during the past year, including:

Both sides drink the Kool-Aid
by Peter Lemiska, Renew America, August 13, 2016

While appearing on a conservative website, this column acknowledges that partisans on both sides of debates – including in presidential choices – often form opinions based on “raw emotion,” rather than thoughtful analysis.

“Invariably during political arguments today, someone is accused of ‘drinking the Kool-Aid.’ It refers to blind loyalty, based on emotion, not reason, and originated from the 1978 murder/suicide of 900 people living in a commune in Guyana. They were all fiercely loyal to their cult leader, Jim Jones, and on his orders, took their own lives by drinking a fruit beverage laced with cyanide. That incident showed how blind loyalty can deprive otherwise rational individuals of free will and common sense.”

A crazy lunatic and the deadly story behind drinking the Kool-Aid
by Tom Peracchio, The World of Questly, February 25, 2016
http://questy.com/content/crazy-lunatic-and-deadly-story-behind-drinking-kool-aid [Editor’s note: This URL was found to be defunct in December 2022.]

This column considers whether people who use the phrase “drinking the Kool-Aid” know anything about “the very ugly event” associated it. After giving a brief history of Peoples Temple and the Jonestown tragedy, the column concludes “Maybe as you learn more about the origin of the phrase, and the gruesome details of the event, you will think of coming up with a new phrase to describe a mindless follower of an idea.”

Drink Your Own Kool-Aid
by Jeffrey Hazlett, “The Blog,” Huffington Post, November 30, 2015

As opposed to almost every other analysis or use of the phrase that appears in print or online, this column puts the expression in a positive light, arguing that you should take stock of yourself and recognize your talents.

Don’t Drink The Kool-aid
by Jeff Drinan, No Room at the Inn, November 2, 2015
http://noroomintheinn.org/wp/2015/11/dont-drink-the-kool-aid/ [Editor’s note: This URL was found to be defunct in May 2020.]

This column considers Jim Jones as an extension of the “decadent… nihilistic” 1960’s and 70’s – when popular culture seemed to turn away from God and toward cults – and describes Jonestown as the “perfect example [i]f people don’t follow the true, unadulterated Word of God [and] don’t have solid values.”