Saturday, 24 March 2018

The big hole in the middle of the Kelly Myth

The Royal Commission into the Kelly Outbreak found that the conduct of the Chief Commissioner of Police, Captain Standish ‘was not characterised by good judgement’ and ‘that many of the charges made by Captain Standish in his evidence’ …  ‘were disproved by the evidence of other witnesses’. It also found that the four constables ‘who formed the party on the night of Aaron Sherrit’s murder ….  were guilty of disobedience of orders and gross cowardice’ and the Commissioners recommended they be dismissed from the service ( one had already resigned by this time)  A detective was censured and had his grade reduced, several police of senior rank were recommended for immediate retirement, a teacher who gave evidence before the commission was sacked from the education department, and Sargent Steele was ‘reduced to the ranks’ for not pursuing a lead that the commission believed would have resulted in the Gang being arrested  at an early date if he ‘had gone immediately in pursuit’

These facts absolutely delight the Kelly sympathisers and they love to point them out. Sometimes they think they can win an argument just by saying "So what about the Royal Commission?"

They think that bad judgment, disobedience, cowardice, laziness and even incompetence, and all the other nasty things that the Commission discovered, proves their point about Ned Kelly, that the Cops were the baddies and he was the Hero.

But, as usual they've got it all wrong.

The absolutely crucial element of Ned Kellys complaint about Police, the thing that he and all his followers over and over again said was at the heart of the Outbreak and his need to rebel, to stand up for his family,  to go on a rampage of theft and killing, to go to Glenrowan for the Last Heroic Stand  - the central truth against which he was rebelling was that the police were corrupt, that he and his family were the victims of police persecution and harassment and enough was enough. That claim is the vital core element of the Kelly claim. Without Police corruption and persecution there is no justification, other than pure criminality, for his outrageous behaviour.

So what else did the Commission find :

“ It may also be mentioned that the charge of persecution of the family by the members of the police force has been frequently urged in extenuation of the crimes of the outlaws; but, after careful examination, your Commissioners have arrived at the conclusion that the police, in their dealings with the Kellys and their relations, were simply desirous of discharging their duty conscientiously; and that no evidence has been adduced to support the allegation that either the outlaws or their friends were subjected to persecution or unnecessary annoyance at the hands of the police.”

I wonder if the significance of this finding for the Kelly myth has ever been properly understood by anyone? The reality of Ned Kellys behaviour, which everyone agrees included theft, hostage taking, and murder, is that if it could ever be justified and the perpetrator regarded as a hero, the only possible way for that to happen would be if it was in some way a reaction to an outrage of equal monstrosity, the persecution and corruption Kelly alleged was directed at him and his family.

But, if you believe the Commission, there wasn't any corruption and persecution. Which means Kellys complaint was just the same tired and boring complaint of crooks everywhere, that the Cops were to blame. 

Nobody goes around  killing police because they're lazy, or cowards or disobedient. Unless they’re a psycho of course.....

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Ned Kellys versions of anything cannot be trusted.

It would be unexceptional to expect that murdering three policemen in the space of a couple of hours would result in unanimous condemnation of the perpetrators. Yet, in the bizarre case of Ned Kelly, a triple police murderer, we have the criminal being upheld as an Australian hero and icon, though as we know from a published survey there aren’t that many such people. But even so, the fact that anyone at all can regard such a person as  a hero requires explaining, or so I would have thought. The point I am going to make in this post is that one reason some people think Ned Kelly is a hero is because the story they have been told about him is a gross misrepresentation of the truth about him. They've been fed a line by the Kelly apologists and have swallowed it. They've been fed Ned Kellys lines but his versions of anything cant be trusted, because as even the great Ian Jones said, and I quote "he lied"

Take the killing of those three policemen at Stringybark Creek as an example. Its common to read that atrocity described as a ‘fair fight’ and a ‘gunbattle’

“When Kennedy and Scanlan returned to the camp Ned called to them to “Bail up”. Instead the troopers opened fire. A gunfight followed with the policemen dodging from tree to tree”

This description from the recently published “Ned Kelly the Iron Outlaw” is a typical example, written by one of the leading Kelly fanatics, but is factually grossly misleading. For anyone unfamiliar with the facts, it reads, as Ned Kelly himself, and the Kelly apologist who wrote this would have wanted, as if the police brought the so called ‘gunfight’ on themselves. The vibe is that the idiot  police tried to take on the Kelly Gang instead of sensibly surrendering, but it was Ned Kelly who opened fire on the police and only one of  the police was ever 'dodging from tree to tree'. 

On Facebook pages for Kelly followers one often reads things like ‘They got what they deserved’.

Now, there were only two witnesses who wrote about what happened that evening – Ned Kelly and Constable Thomas McIntyre, but for some reason, its always Ned Kellys view that predominates in the literature describing it all. Thus, though McIntyre very clearly stated that Lonigan was shot within a few seconds of being ordered to ‘bail up’ , and wouldn't have had time to get his gun out, the story that everyone tells, from Kenneally in 1929 to now, is Ned Kellys version that Lonigan ran six or seven yards to some logs, got behind them and then was shot in the head as he came up to shoot at Ned Kelly. Ned Kelly thus maintained he killed in self-defence.

Likewise in describing the second half of this debacle, McIntyre clearly states that he was given almost no time to explain to Kennedy and Scanlan what was going on – in fact he stated that Kelly shouted “Bail up” before he had said a word to Kennedy:

“I stepped towards Kennedy and was about to explain the position to him when Kelly sang out ‘Bail up, hold up your hands.’ Kennedy smiled and playfully put his hand upon his revolver case. Judging from the expression on his face he thought that Lonigan and I were jesting with him. Immediately he put his hand down he was fired at by Ned Kelly.” (My underlining ) (Reminiscences of a Victorian Mounted Constable)

The bullet went over his head, but Kennedy, suddenly realising it wasn’t a joke, rolled off the horse and drew his revolver just as the rest of the gang broke cover and advanced, firing. Scanlon also tried to throw himself off his horse, and in his panic, he fell.

“.. in his efforts to scramble to his feet and at the same time disentangle himself from his rifle he fell again and both his hands and knees were on the ground when he was shot under the right arm. I saw a large spot of blood appear on his coat” (Reminiscences)

Its accepted now I think that Kelly’s description of how Lonigan died was bullshit. The forensic evidence clearly shows that Lonigan was out in the open when he was shot, and supports McIntyre’s recollection. So, isn’t it time we also called ‘bullshit’ on Kelly’s description of what happened when Kennedy and Scanlan returned?

Kelly blamed McIntyre for not getting them to surrender but McIntyre’s testimony shows that  Kelly gave him almost no chance to do it. Kelly should have shut his mouth and stayed hidden and given McIntyre a real chance to persuade Kennedy and Scanlan to disarm and surrender, but instead, exactly as when Lonigan was killed, Kelly panicked  at the crucial moment, and he started shouting and shooting almost straight away. Its interesting to notice that Kellys first written version of these events more or less agrees with McIntyre’s version, there being no mention of McIntyre actually speaking to Kennedy:

McIntyre went up to Kennedy, Scanlan being behind with a rifle and revolver. I called on them to throw up their hands. Scanlan slewed his horse around to gallop away but turned again and as quick as thought fired at me with the rifle, and was in the act of firing again when I shot him” (Cameron Letter)

In his second version however, he says something quite different. He now says McIntyre spoke to Kennedy who then reached for his revolver, got off his horse and “got behind a tree when I called on them to throw up their arms’(Jerilderie Letter)

So, in the Cameron letter, while the Police are still mounted Kelly calls on them to Bail up and then Scanlan and Kennedy react. In the second version, the Jerilderie Letter,  they react not  to Kellys words but to McIntyres word and only after Kennedy is behind a tree does Kelly call on them to “bail up”. So was Kellys call to ‘ bail up’ made while Kennedy was on his horse or behind a tree? McIntyre said Scanlan didn’t fire his rifle, Kelly said he did.

My question is why would we believe Kelly’s versions of Scanlan and Kennedys deaths when we know his version of Lonigans death was a self-serving lie? Why wouldn’t his versions of Scanlan’s and Kennedys deaths also be self-serving lies ? They have every appearance of being exactly that, especially when you look at the changes he made in the second version.

My next question then is why is it always the Kelly version that gets repeated and promoted and written into the texts time and time again, in preference to McIntyres? My own answer to that question is that people haven't yet fully realised what an outrageous liar Kelly was.

And one other thing : this garbage about a fair fight – on what planet is it a fair fight when three or four armed men confront two men, only one of whom carries a weapon? And the fight with Kennedy : Kennedy retreating from tree to tree was armed with a revolver that took six cartridges.  The Kelly gang of four, pursuing him for almost a mile through the bush, was now armed with the police shotgun, the Spencer Carbine carried by Scanlon, McIntyre’s revolver, Lonigan’s revolver, Scanlon’s revolver, dozens of rounds of ammunition taken from the Police tent, and of course the guns they brought with them to the police camp at the outset: Neds ‘rickety old carbine, a cheap shotgun and a pocket revolver’ (Ian Jones: A Short Life Hachette Edition p157). What kind of lunatic could ever imagine that could be a fair fight?

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Tell that to Lonigans widow

Ive been too busy to write a Post for the Blog this weekend. Heres some music for you instead, and the Lyrics below, of a song that was part of the soundtrack for the Kelly movie from 1970. 
The best line?  "Bury the truth as you bury the dead"

Now four jolly troopers from Mansfield town
Were sent out to hunt all them Kelly boys down
They searched through the wombat for most of a week
And they camped on the banks of the Stringybark creek
But Lonigan's widow, she's a singing no songs
She walks these red hills and she cries all night long

They say that Ned Kelly had never done wrong
Tell that to Lonigan's widow

Early that morning amid laughter and shouting
Kennedy and Scanlon, they rode out a scouting
And left McIntyre to cook up the grub
While Lonigan sang at the old washing tub
They were cleaning the camp, boiling some tea
When up jumped Ned Kelly with his comrades three
With a shout and a cry and a crack of a gun
Lonigan staggers and Lonigan's done
But Lonigan's widow, she's singin' no songs
She walks these red hills and she cries all night long

They say that Ned Kelly ain't never done wrong
But tell that to Lonigan's widow

He's crawling, he's crying, he's clawing the ground
His voice makes a pleading and pitiful sound
Of the way that he's dying, nobody will speak
When they tell of the glory's on Stringybark creek
But Lonigan's widow, she sang him no songs
She walks these red hills, she cries all night long

They say that Ned Kelly ain't never done wrong
But tell that to Lonigan's widow

So sing of Ned Kelly, the lad of renown
The pride of Australia, the scourge of the crown
Sing of his bravery and God bless his head
And bury the truth as you bury the dead
But Lonigan's widow, she's singing no songs
She walks these red hills and she cries all night long

They say that Ned Kelly ain't never done wrong
Ned Kelly, ain't never done wrong
Ned Kelly's never done wrong
But tell that to Lonigan's widow