Monday 30 June 2014

Neducation is not Education

In the Border Mail a week or so back there was an article entitled “Ned and Ettie, a love story” and it featured a smiling photo of the goateed Mr Trent Cupid posing alongside a soft fabric doll with a Kelly style face mask, and in the background dozens of cheap models of Ned Kelly in armour, brandishing a shotgun. A warm fuzzy and cuddly image of the lovable Ned Kelly, and underneath a description of an upcoming lecture by Mr Paul O”Keefe in which it says “an untold love story involving Ned Kelly will be revealed”

(Never mind that he's been telling the story for at least a couple of years, or that Ian Jones would have a very different view of who Ned Kellys love was, or that from what Ive read, nowhere does Ettie Hart actually say that she and Ned kelly were lovers, or that even if she was infatuated with him that he even noticed her...but thats Mr OKeefes story...facts are not that important to kelly "educators")

All-in-all a very “touchy feely” sort of exercise it would seem, created by a man who uses the term “neducation” to describe his “business”  whose main objective  is to “cut through the misconceptions  and half truths about Kelly story ”
I have written about “Neducation” before. It was in the Forum that was deleted by the NKF Member running the anti-book site, so my careful thoughts have been destroyed  by these people who now profess concern about “misconceptions and half truths”. The question I raised then was why Neducation was aimed at school children, with the intent of making them understand what “really “ happened and I expressed my concern that an obvious partisan in the kelly gang story, a man who claims to be a “descendant” of the Kelly Gang is directing his obvious bias at impressionable school age children. It reminded me at the time of the Christian Child Evangelism organization, an organization like the Neducation one, which recognizes and deliberately exploits the naivety inexperience and ignorance of young innocent minds.

Given what I know about Trent Cupids role in administering the Ned Kelly Forum, of which Mr. O’Keefe is a member, and of the way in which they and another prominent member of that forum do everything in their power to suppress, deny, eliminate and censor any attempt to tell a different narrative, I couldn’t help but respond to that item, seeing it as a further example of the Kelly Propaganda machine in action, something that needs to be countered at every opportunity.  But I don’t believe, as they do, in countering opposing views by censoring them and trying to have them removed from the public domain as they do, and have done and are continuing to do to me. I am happy for them to say and do and believe whatever they like – this is an important principle of freedom of speech and a democratic principle.  Instead, I believe in countering “Neducation” with re-education, with fact, with reason and counter claim.

This was my response :

 I dont believe Mr Cupid or Mr O'Keefe are serious about cutting through misconceptions and half truths about Ned Kelly - these "Neducators" are pushing the modern airbrushed and photoshopped picture of Ned Kelly that is completely at odds with the facts. The facts show Ned Kelly was a dysfunctional antisocial stock thief who stole from the poor as often as from the rich, a bank robber who copied the style of other bushrangers of the time and a killer not just of police by a deadly ambush but of an old friend who he no longer trusted..If it hadnt been for Thomas Curnow, Kellys plan for 19th centruy terrorism - wrecking a train at Glenrowan would have resulted in slaughter of over 20 people, many of them innocent.
Neducation is about perpetuating the myths and half truths about Ned Kelly. Thomas Curnow is the man we should be celebrating, for being brave and for saving innocent lives.

Sunday 22 June 2014

The Making of Ned Kelly

Keith McMenomy, is the author of “Ned Kelly: the Authentic Illustrated History” a large and fascinating book described on the pro-kelly website “Ironoutlaw “ as:

 “…. solid gold. It presents the facts without taking sides and has one of the most comprehensive collections of illustrations of any Kelly book. Together with its exhaustive index, bibliography and footnotes, it is a must for any Kelly research” 

I borrowed this book from a local library, and on the site of mine that was maliciously deleted by the bully who has the hate FB page I quoted from it to make a point about the influences on the developing mind of Ned Kelly. It is worth repeating and enlarging on this idea as a means to gaining an understanding of how Ned Kelly came to be the man he was. 

“While the Kellys attended school at Avenel they were also absorbing other influences. Much has been said of the warped outlook pushed onto them by an ex-convict father and lawless maternal relatives but one influence often ignored was that of the general hero-worship for Bushrangers by the Australian working class during most o the 19th century. …Criminals were popular heroes of Bush Life in the Australian Colonies.

The exploits of these lawbreakers were largely viewed as admirable; Police were often considered to be the villains…..

They (the Bushrangers) usually robbed from the wealthy because it was more profitable, and they subsidized the poor who they relied on for shelter and survival.

With a show of gallantry, real or feigned they built up an aura of false romantic glamour around their hunted lives”
“Ned Kelly: the Authentic Illustrated History" P26

Highway Robbery
What is so interesting about this description of the popular views of people in the bush in the 19th century is that it is almost a blueprint for the Kelly Gang. Its easy to imagine a young boy from a poor and underprivileged background dreaming of one day becoming a hero like the feted Bushrangers, people with money, power and respect, things a young Ned Kelly could see his own extended family had almost none of, and whats more, to deal to the villainous Police, to get one back on the authorities who no doubt were blamed almost solely for the hardships in their lives.

Peter Fitzsimons also refers to the popularity and the esteem with which Bushrangers were regarded in the Bush, and mentions an article in the local newspaper, the Kilmore Free Press that “everyone is talking about “: the shooting of Ben Hall the bushranger. Hall was reputed to have committed more than 600 robberies without ever killing anyone, and was regarded as a popular hero for “bailing up the entire town of Canowindra, shepherding everyone into Robinsons Hotel and instructing them to eat and drink all they wished, at the gangs expense. “That party had gone on for three days”

Ian Jones says the Obituary in the Kilmore Press to “Brave Ben Hall” as he was known, was probably read by Ned Kelly. He would have read that 
“..he has never been accused of being bloodthirsty , nor did he directly kill any of the victims he robbed. It is claimed by his relatives and those who knew him best that he was affectionate and generous. It is said that the miniature found upon his person by the police after his death is that of a favourite sister…”:

The Corpse of Mad Dog Morgan
He may also have read or heard about the death of another Bush Ranger, Dan Morgan, a few months earlier.  Morgan was known as a sadistic and merciless thief and killer of two Policemen and once , to save his own skin  shot his then partner in crime. There was a 1000 pound reward on his head, so one can perhaps understand why Morgans remains were desecrated by jubilant Police after he was killed. However what the Police did was disgusting, and a further example of ill-discipline in the Ranks that further strengthened the hatred of police in the minds of the rural populace.

All this happened when Ned Kelly was 10 or 11. A few years later, another Bush Ranger, Harry Powell would be a very direct and powerful influence on Ned as he grew into adulthood but already, knowing what we know now about what subsequently happened we can clearly make out the origins of the “modus operandi” of the Kelly Gang. That these earlier events had impressed Ned Kelly and his gang at that young age is revealed by the reports that when holding up the town of Jerilderie 14 years later in 1879, they galloped up and down the main street shouting “ Hoorah for the good old times of Morgan and Ben Hall”

The gallant bushranger, holding up entire towns, carrying sentimental mementoes, feeding hostages with food and beer, providing assistance to a network of supporters , and frustrating the Police were all ideas that Ned Kelly took from the Bushrangers who went before – surprisingly little of what the Kelly Gang did was original, except for their two most brutal innovations – ambushing and killing police at Stringybark Creek, and trying to blow up and kill more Police on the Train at Glenrowan. These acts go way beyond anything the other Bushrangers attempted, and perhaps, realizing this after the Stringybark massacre, Ned attempted to justify his actions by the explanations contained in the Jerliderie letter. By then of course he also had a reward on his head, his hatred of Police and authority was an all consuming rage, and nothing was going to be allowed to get in his way.

Friday 20 June 2014

Part 4 : Covering up the Truth about Stringybark Creek

Aftermath of Ambush 
So lets back up a bit and look at the second sentence of this potted version of the Kelly Story, the sentence that relates to the events that took place at Stringybark Creek:

“Wrongly accused they survived a deadly shoot out with Police in 1878 that saw the Gang outlawed with the largest reward ever offered in the British Empire- dead or Alive.”

This is another cunning piece of propaganda – for one thing, what does it mean to be “wrongly” accused? If a person is found innocent of a charge – in this case of attempted police murder – then it might be fair to say the accusation was wrong, but to claim that the accusation is wrong BEFORE your day in Court? There was nothing "wrong" about being accused of murder - a policeman had been wounded and he claimed Ned kelly had shot at him - so it was perfectly legitimate for Kelly to be accused. It was for the Court to decide the truth or otherwise of the accusation - so lets not fall for this stupid  emotive trick that presupposes Kellys innocence before he had his day in Court. One wonders why he disappeared into the hills if he was  so certain that he was innocent!

There is in fact no basis for the presumption that even the accusation was wrong, but to frame it that way adds to the notion of innocence and blamelessness that the Pro-Kelly narrative likes to promote. It further muddies the picture by the implication that “the Gang” was wrongly accused – in fact Joe and Steve were not wanted – only Dan and Ned were accused.

“…they survived a deadly shoot out with Police” is the next and the most florid example of “spin” that you could ever hope to find. The euphemism “shoot out” hides the brutal truth about this episode which was in fact an ambush by the gang of four initially on two, and after killing one of them and disarming the other, a further ambush on the remaining two. To characterize their experience of this incident as “survival” creates the impression that it was a near thing, and that these “wrongly accused” mates were lucky to survive. It was nothing of the sort.

The truth is that the Gang had the advantage of timing,position and surprise in their ambush of the Police camp at the creek, and the moment any of the Police made a false move the Gang opened fire on them. Two were killed immediately and a third was CHASED through the bush, was then wounded and finally killed at point blank range once they caught up to him, with a gunshot to the chest. There was never any real doubt the Gang was going to survive this “deadly” shoot out – as they did almost all the shooting.  The truth is that it was never a “shoot out” –it was a deadly ambush. It beggars belief that Kelly apologists expect  intelligent adult human beings to swallow the notion that these killings were "self defence" - chasing and  killing a person running away cant possibly ever be defended as "self defence" - its preposterous. 

The modern day pro-Kelly spin on this entire violent and appalling set of killings by the Kelly Gang is extraordinary to read but what choice do they have if they are going to claim Ned Kelly was some sort of Robin Hood? Unless they maintain this ridiculous notion that these murders were "self defence" they would have to face the truth about the gang, which is that they can only be characterized as violent killers.

But they won't face the truth. They cover it up with propaganda and euphemisms like "shoot out"

Thursday 19 June 2014

Kelly Propaganda Part Three : Kelly Threatens to kill women and children

A Hold Up with Guns pointed at you is a terrifying experience
So lets stay with that first sentence and look at the notion that the Gang was on a crusade to change their world for the better.  To start with, consider the story of  “the Gang”, a group of mates made up of Ned Kelly and his younger brother Dan, along with Joe Byrne and Steve Hart, Dans best friend.

This gang of four came into existence in the Wombat Ranges where Ned and Dan Kelly had gone into hiding from the Police who had issued a warrant for their arrest for attempted murder. Ned and Dans mother and two others were also wanted on the same charges, and were arrested and sentenced but Dan and Ned remained hidden in the Ranges and survived there with the support of their friends who came and went bringing supplies and news.  Joe and Steve joined them there and for nearly six months, through a hard winter  and with the help of family and friends they survived by panning for gold and distilling whiskey.  Meanwhile the Police search was slowly closing in, and eventually there was a confrontation in the ranges, at Stringybark Creek. A Police search party of four was ambushed and three Policemen were killed – this was the moment when the Kelly Gang was created, born out of their participation in a multiple murder. Before that they were mates in the bush, only two of whom were wanted by police but now they were a gang with a price on their heads, wanted not for attempted murder but for mass murder.

Eighteen months later only Ned Kelly would still be alive, locked up in Melbourne waiting to be hanged. The other three had all died at the Siege in Glenrowan, the Gangs disastrous final act which brought an end to the gang and its “Crusade”.  So what is the evidence  that during that eighteen months the gang was on a crusade to change their world for the better?

Already its clear that the Gang didn’t form with these noble objectives in mind – the Gang  formed from their joint participation in one of Autralias most notorious crimes: multiple police killings.  Prior to that, they had been hiding out in the ranges distilling whisky, practicing their marksmanship by shooting at targets on a tree, and building a reinforced dwelling far away from mainstream society. There is no evidence or record or statement from anyone anywhere that before the SBC murders the Gang was engaged in any sort of Crusade to make their world a better place, unless of course this is merely a reference to their own personal world, their own security and that of their friends and family – but that is hardly the stuff of Crusades, looking after yourself and your own family! And if that is all it was that is not the stuff of legends.  

But, in any case this is not what  was meant by the word “Crusade” and the phrase “change the world for the better” What is meant by pro Kelly people when they mention these ideas is a grand scheme to change the fundamentals of  their entire society, to bring justice to the enemies of the downtrodden and the humble, to liberate from poverty the entire underclass of exploited poor, to empower and give a voice to the oppressed and the disempowered, to expose the corrupt Police. This is the vision that Kelly people want to bring to mind when they talk about the Robin Hood of Australia, and about changing the world for the better. It is no small vision but a huge and revolutionary transformation that they are claiming as the Gangs vision. But it is clear that before the SBC killings, no endeavours of any kind were made along those lines - there is simply no evidence for such a crusade at that time.

Bu what about after the SBC killings? Did something happen AFTER the killings that supported the notion that the gang was on “a crusade” during this time,  that Ned Kelly and his “gang” were the Robin Hood of Australia, taking from the rich and helping the poor, fighting for a just society and against corruption and scandal in high places? 

What happened, according to Bradley Webbs Promo was this : Over the next 18 months the Kelly Gang held up two country towns and robbed their banks – without firing a single shot; wrote numerous essays explaining their actions and became folk heroes to a generation

One would have to say as far as Grand Schemes and Crusdaes go, this description is somewhat underwhelming, but it is a version of events that supports the Robin Hood theory, suggesting that a hold up at Gunpoint was somehow not really all that bad because no shots were fired, and that their activities resulted in hero status. This fact that no shots were fired is often cited by Pro Kelly writers as some sort of testimonial to the decency of these Robin Hood characters. In fact, it really testifies to the overwhelming terror and fear that the hostages were in after having been warned in no uncertain terms they would be shot if they misbehaved. The hostages already knew the gang had mercilessly killed three policemen, and no doubt the hostages were in great fear of their lives. Rather than a testimony to the decency of the gang, the fact no shots were fired is a testimony to the good sense of the hostages and a pointer to the level of fear and intimidation that the Gang projected to maintain control of them. For most people these holdups would have been terrifying, intimidating and horrible. Such events in modern times often result in years of Post Traumatic stress, depression and suicide - it would have been no different then for most of them. The Truth is that an erroneous implication has been drawn from the fact that that no shots were fired, and this error has become part of the structure of the Robin Hood myth about Ned Kelly – it doesn’t hold up to any realistic analysis.

This is how Ian Jones describes the beginning of the hold-up at Jerilderie ( The Gang woke the two constables up in the middle of the night pretending to be coming to get Police help to control a drunken brawl at the local pub )
“…suddenly the mans horse was still. He drew a revolver and spoke very calmly after all the yelling
“ Move and I’ll shoot you. I’m Kelly. Put up your hands”
The gang quietly occupied the Police Station, gathering up two revolvers two carbines and ammunition. Mrs Devine appeared, hastily dressed and pleaded with Ned not to harm her husband for her sake and that of her little children. Aiming his reply at Devine and Richards Ned assured her that the two police were safe unless he saw “signs of hanky panky work” when he would “shoot them without a moments hesitation” adding “So long as they remain quiet, you and the children will be safe” Ned Kelly A Short Life pp225

Here, Ned was not only threatening to shoot two more Policeman without hesitation if he saw signs of “hanky panky”, but was also threatening harm to the wife and children of one of them should the Policemen not “remain quiet” . 

The Jerilderie robbery therefore began with violent credible threats from a known Police killer, to kill more police and harm women and children. This fact I am sure wont be highlighted in Brad Webbs Pictorial History of the Kelly Gang, or discussed on any pro-kelly website – the idea that Ned Kelly was a benign bushranger and a kind of Robin Hood can only be sustained if this kind of unpleasant truth is airbrushed out of the story.

And that of course is exactly what the Pro Kelly people do. They do not want you to know the whole story, the truth about Ned Kelly, the dark side of the story. But I will tell it here