Wednesday 29 April 2015

State Murder is Always Wrong

You made mistakes, but didnt deserve to die. 
Watching the mother of Myuran Sukumaran weeping and pleading for the life of her son on TV last night was heart wrenching. But there was never any real prospect that her pleas or those of our political leaders, human rights Lawyers, or even the United Nations were going to fall on anything other than deaf Indonesian ears. That system is mired in corruption and entrenched and outmoded and ignorant attitudes to drug addiction and use in society, and 19th century beliefs about crime and punishment. Widodo has proven to be a blind inflexible dogmatist, not at all the liberal reformer he promoted himself as. He has become a weak and discredited puppet of the Sukarno legacy. 

Eventually, inevitably the Death Penalty will be abolished as the place grows up, becomes civilised and modern, and perhaps the world wide revulsion at what has just taken place will hasten that development but for now the place is a pariah. 

Capital punishment by any means, for any crime is always wrong in my opinion. If you believe in the sanctity of human life, that killing is wrong and war is wrong and you want it to stop, then you have to stop killing. You just have to stop. Its really very simple.

But as long as you imagine you can find reasons  and circumstances where its OK to kill, and especially if its the State that is finding these reasons, then you are telling everyone that if YOU can find a good reason to kill, then you can. And so, in Indonesia a majority of people support the Death Penalty, whereas here in Australia and so many other countries where the Government has declared that the sanctity of human life is so great that no crime is sufficiently horrible that that sanctity should be violated, a huge majority do not support it. 

Sadly our Governments stance in opposing it in the case of these two Australians exposes a kind of hypocrisy about the moral principle that underpins our legal approach to Capital Punishment. We should have opposed its use for the Bali bombers, we should oppose its use in the USA  where not long ago a botched execution by lethal injection dragged on for an hour, in Saudi Arabia where a few days ago a screaming woman was held down by Police and beheaded in Public, we should oppose it in China even though we want their Trade, we should oppose it in Iran even though we now have some sort of security arrangement with them to identify Australians heading to Iraq and ISIS, we should just oppose it everywhere and under all circumstances because by doing so we are upholding the sanctity of human life and advancing the cause of peace. 

Imagine how different the Kelly Story would have been if Capital Punishment had been abolished in Ned Kellys time. Unless he was a delusional paranoid schizophrenic Ned Kelly would not have believed the Police hunting him in the Wombats ranges might have been planning to kill him. He would not have felt compelled to kill them in self defence. He  could not have been “Outlawed” and turned into a fugitive that anyone could shoot on sight. He would not have been hanged. And that would have been a good thing.

The crowds that gathered to support Ned in Melbourne were there to protest at Capital Punishment. They didnt support him personally, or his lifestyle choices, much as all the people in the candlelight Vigils in support of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were not there to support drug crime but to support their humanity and their families. The Gaunsons were prominent activists in the fight against Capital Punishment and I would have joined them in the streets to plead for Ned Kellys life, I would have signed their Petition to spare him, I would have been saddened and disappointed when those efforts failed, I would have felt for poor Ellen and Neds sisters and family in their  grief, as I do today for Andrew and Myurans.

It took almost 90 more years to have the death Penalty abolished in Australia. I hope it doesn’t take that long in Indonesia.

Sunday 26 April 2015

Ned Kelly is the real Villain.

This beautiful Stained Glass Window is in the Holy Cross Catholic Church at Moyhu. It was donated in 1874 in commemoration of his wife  Catherine by James Whitty, a man the Iron Outlaw Website ignorantly describes as a "Real Villain"
The next item on Ned Kellys charge sheet, Horse Stealing, related to the so-called Whitty Larceny, the  theft of eleven horses from James Whitty.  Once again, this is distinctly NOT an example of Police persecution of innocent selectors – indeed, NONE of the cases on Neds Charge sheet so far examined could be characterised in that way, and yet the average Kelly Fanatic, informed by ignorant websites like Iron Outlaw would no doubt swear black and blue that Ned was hounded and persecuted by the Police. So far, that has definitely not happened – in fact in this incident Ned Kelly himself admitted his guilt in the Jeriderie Letter 

“Farrell the policeman stole a horse from George King and had him in Whitty and Farrells paddocks until he left the force. All this was the cause of me and my stepfather George King taking their horses…”

This theft from Whitty was a most peculiar thing.  Ian Jones says it “seems to have taken on an almost obsessive significance for Ned” because Ned had earlier gone to great lengths to deny stealing stock from Whitty – firstly of  Whittys missing bull,  and later a mob of calves. Despite these denials Ned later cited these accusations as his justification for his return to “wholesale and retail horse and cattle dealing”, another of his childish attempts to blame someone else for his criminal adult behaviour. But  in a quite bizarre turn-around, having denied all the Whitty thefts he had been accused of, Ned went ahead anyway and stole a mob of horses from Whitty then freely admitted it! What on earth was Ned Kelly up to?

Doug Morrissey also noticed Neds obsessional preoccupation with Whitty and provides some interesting insight into this episode in his recent book, with one entire Chapter entitled “Whitty and Byrne”.  What he reveals is that Whitty was not the hated ruthless squatter and oppressor of the poor selector that Ned Kelly portrays in the Jerilderie Letter, and modern ill-informed Kelly fanatics - such as the IO writers - still believe to be the case.  Morrissey shows time and again how Ned Kellys claims about Whitty  in the Jerilderie Letter are factually wrong. Even Ian Jones has difficulty accepting Neds allegation that a horse had been stolen by “Farell the policeman”, because there are no known facts that support the claim, and no logic to Neds suggestion that this stolen horse was simply kept in Whittys paddock where it could easily have been seen and reported. “Farrell the policeman” was not even a Policeman but a former Policeman, who had left the force two years earlier with a clean record. ( How many people reading the Jerilderie Letter would accept, on Neds say-so that here was evidence of Police corruption – a Policeman stealing a horse – and yet this claim is simply a lie told by Ned Kelly )

In fact Whitty, also an Irish Catholic, was not a squatter but an immigrant who was illiterate and penniless when he arrived in Victoria, but by hard work and through legitimate means became a wealthy farmer and landowner. Whitty acquired status and power in the local community, and it would seem the respect even of selectors. (The Iron Outlaw site lists James Whitty as one of its "Real Villains” and among a litany of ignorant blunders and mistakes wrongly lists him as a squatter - such is the quality of the Kelly sympathiser propaganda!)  Morrissey believes Ned Kelly resented the Whitty familys success and was jealous and hated him as a result, and it was this emotion that propelled him into the “Whitty larceny”.  Ned really just wanted to have a go at Whitty. His stated justifications for robbing him were probably lies, but according to Ian Jones, by doing this “Ned was  inviting retribution” 

In fact Neds provocation of Whitty resulted in the issuing of warrants for his arrest, and for his brother Dan as well, and from there the whole thing slowly gathered momentum and spiralled out of his control. The chain of events that came to be called the Kelly Outbreak was set in motion, and it ultimately lead to the gallows in Melbourne. Retribution indeed! 

The Kelly myth makers have long claimed that the trigger to the Kelly Outbreak was the so called “Fitzpatrick Incident” which was yet to come. The Kelly myth makers deny that Ned Kellys criminality and the Whitty Larceny had anything to do with the outbreak, because, like Ned Kelly they want to pretend that Ned Kelly was an innocent victim in all this. However it is an irrefutable fact that  the reason Fitzpatrick went to the Kelly property was because of Dans involvement in the Whitty Larceny. And the Whitty Larceny came about because of Ned Kellys obsessional hatred of a successful Irish farmer – that is where the genesis of the Kelly Outbreak lies – the Fitzpatrick incident was the third or fourth domino to fall, not the first. The origin of the Kelly Outbreak lies within the envious heart of Ned Kelly the self confessed stock thief, and the first act of the Kelly Outbreak was his theft of Whittys horses. From then on it was all downhill.

Tuesday 21 April 2015

Ned Kelly : Drunk and Resisting Arrest

So, while Ned Kelly may have worked  in legitimate employment of various kinds after his release from prison in 1874, he wasn’t “going straight” as the Kelly myth would have us believe. Instead, he was flying under the radar and avoiding detection.

Ned Kelly nearly came unstuck in 1876 with the Lydeker case, but in the end he escaped a conviction because the Judiciary acted correctly, rather than because Ned was necessarily innocent.  That Ned and Tom were almost certainly guilty of the theft was evidenced by the behavior of Tom Lloyds family in compensating Lydeker with a horse and calf, so that Tom at least wouldn’t face court. This action was described as “very like compounding a felony” according to a local News report (unnamed quote in Morrissey)

But whatever they might say about 1876, Kelly enthusiast and fanatics alike agree that in 1877 Ned Kelly abandoned all attempts at making an honest living and began life as a full time stock thief. He was now 22, and had less than four years to live, but as Ned himself bragged, he would never be convicted of stock theft.

I wrote about Neds next brush with the Law in my review of the Jerilderie lletter last year. Please read it hereOddly, it was not in relation to his full-time retail and wholesale stock theft but a minor incident relating to drunkenness that Neds stupid immaturity escalated into a violent brawl. What happened was that Ned was arrested for drunkenness and riding a horse on the footpath. He spent a night in the Cells and then in the morning resisted the handcuffs , made a run for it, was chased, caught and eventually subdued but only after a violent brawl. Upon conviction he was fined a total of 61 shillings according to McQuilton (£3/1/-) and 86 shillings according to Jones - but only 1 shilling was for the original offence, of being drunk and disorderly. The other 60  shillings ( or 85 ) were for resisting arrest and assaulting the Police, a charge Jones says Ned pleaded guilty to “cheerfully”

Leaving aside the laughable excuse Ned made that his drink was spiked, there is nothing in this episode that suggests Police or Judicial harassment or corruption or persecution of the Kellys. If Ned had chosen to simply front up like a man and accept he had been drunk and ridden on the footpath he would have been fined 1 shilling. Instead because of his own stupid behavior, and not because of anything done corruptly by the Police or the Courts, he ended up with a punishment 60 times worse than it needed to be. He has only himself to blame for it.

This was September 1877, and with all but three years of his life behind him, so far I haven’t seen anything in Ned Kellys brushes with the Law that support the Kelly Mythology about Ned being persecuted and hounded by corrupt Police and vindictive Judges. Every case we have reviewed so far were encounters created and following on from decisions and actions of Ned Kelly and the Kellys themselves – Ned’s assault on Ah Fook, Ned’s decision to be Powers mate, Neds decision to continue the argument with the McCormicks, Ned’s plan to try to sell a horse he got from Wild Wright, Ned’s involvement in the Lydeker incident, Neds drunkenness and his violent refusal to be handcuffed.  Often, it was clear that Ned was guilty and his protestations of innocence were lies – does any Kelly sympathizer doubt he was Powers “mate”? Does any Kelly sympathizer doubt he gratuitously involved himself in the McCormick affair or honestly believe that he really had no idea that Wilds mare was a stolen horse? Where is the Kelly sympathizer prepared to argue that Ned Kelly was not involved in the disappearance of Lydeker’s horse and foal? Which Kelly sympathizer wants to argue against the impression that Ned’s violent re-capture came about entirely because Ned stupidly wouldn’t allow handcuffing? Which Kelly sympathizer wants to commend Ned in his poverty for wasting 3 or 4 pounds defending his foolish “flashness” when it could have been much better spent elsewhere? As far as Police and Judicial behavior is concerned what we have seen from the record was mostly scrupulous adherence to the rule of Law such that cases were dismissed on the basis of corrupt behavior by Kelly people and sympathizers, Police sympathy towards Ned Kelly was expressed in attempts to encourage a less criminal life, and sentences were remitted significantly for good behavior . Constable Halls behavior was reprehensible, undoubtedly, but his actions were not typical of the treatment Kelly received and not supported by Halls superiors.

Oh yes, sympathisers love to quote Superintendent Charles Nicolson who talked of bringing offenders to justice even for a paltry crime and sending them to Pentridge to take their flashness away, but the record of Ned Kelly is what actually happened. For many paltry crimes Kelly was NOT convicted or sent to Pentridge.

Another thing we haven’t seen is the slightest evidence of Ned Kelly the Icon, the Champion of the Poor, the defender of the rights of the  downtrodden and the "suffering innocents”. All we have seen is violent stupid behaviour, indecency, theft, lies and indifference to the effects his “flashiness” was having on his mothers and his families poverty. 

This is how I ended my first discussion about the arrests for drunkenness:
No doubt, as usual, there will be silence from the pro-kelly mob. 

I was  right - there was silence then and will probably be again now. Have they got NO answers?

Thursday 16 April 2015

Ned Kelly Fails to go Straight

Ned Kelly was released from Pentridge Prison in February 1874, having received six months remission off his three year sentence for receiving, yet another fact which contradicts the Kelly claim that the Authorities were out to get them at every opportunity.  If they had been, wouldn’t they have come up with an excuse to keep him there the full three years? Another fact which might suggest imprisonment had actually been good for Ned Kelly is the claim by Kelly sympathisers that for the next three years Ned Kelly “went straight”.  I cant imagine that for one second the Kelly sympathisers would concede the possibility that Neds Imprisonment might have been instrumental in his rehabilitation, but how else are they going to explain this apparent near miraculous transformation?

On his return Ned found his mother had a new baby fathered by George King, a man Ned Kelly described as “the greatest horse stealer” - along with himself of course; his brother Jim was in prison for stock theft and Dan was later charged with theft of a saddle.  Ned also discovered his oldest sister Annie had died after childbirth, and the baby had also died, outcomes which Ned blamed on Earnest Flood, a Policeman who had an affair with 18 year old Annie while her own husband was in prison for – you guessed it - stock theft! It seems odd that a young man with an extensive criminal record of his own would live in such an environment of criminality and yet remain on the right side of the Law,  but  if the Kelly mythology is to be believed, Ned Kelly “went straight” for the next three years, working at a sawmill and at various other jobs such as fencing, ploughing and shearing.  Eventually though, by his own admission in the Jerilderie letter of 1879, Ned returned to the criminal way of life.

McMenomy says about Neds return to a life of crime:
“The reason Kelly left a lucrative and responsible position remains one of the biggest mysteries of his career. After nearly three years of apparently honest work Ned Kelly returned to the life that led him to  Gaol six years earlier”

As we shall see, McMenomy was right to describe those years as “apparently” honest, but I woudnt have thought that there was much that was mysterious about the allure of easy money when trying to understand why a young man might prefer crime to the daily grind of working the land. Ned claimed in the Jerilderie Letter that his change of career  came about because he had been accused of various stock thefts that he had not committed:

“I began to think they wanted me to give them something to talk about. Therefore I started wholesale and retail cattle and horse stealing”

Blaming others for his decision at the age of 22 to engage in stock theft is at the level of the school kids excuse “The dog ate my homework”. Not only was this excuse pathetic it was almost certainly a lie, and not the kind of behavior one might expect from a future “Icon” and Role Model.

In fact, as Doug Morrissey details in his recent book “Ned Kelly: A Lawless Life”, there is good reason to believe that Ned returned to Stock Theft well before 1877 because in early 1876 Ned and his cousin Tom were formally charged with stealing a mare and foal from farmer Henry Lydeker.  He saw the cousins acting “suspiciously” around his horses the evening before they disappeared. Lydeker isn’t mentioned in either Max Browns or John Molonys biographies of Ned, Peter Fitzsimons mentions the incident simply as a charge of horse stealing which was dismissed “thanks to the testimony of several witnesses” and the usually thorough Ian Jones mentions the case but calls it all “a simple misunderstanding”.  He writes that Ned and Tom thought the horses belonged to Jack and Jimmy Quinn, and simply returned them to their rightful owners. However, the most superficial scrutiny shows that Jones explanation couldn’t be correct because the horses were never seen again.  They had either been sold, or perhaps killed, but with their disappearance the search for evidence was prolonged and it took the Police six months to execute the warrants. By then Lydeker had been given a horse and a calf in compensation by Toms family, and despite being the person who originally laid the charges against Ned, when it finally got to Court Lydeker refused to co-operate with the Police. The witnesses mentioned by Fitzsimons were “Quinn clan associates” and so not unexpectedly the case collapsed.

So while it may be true that for three years Ned Kelly was not convicted of any further criminal acts, its not true to say therefore that he was not engaged in criminal acts and was “going straight”. In fact the idea that he went straight for three years is simply another mistelling of the Kelly story, part of the Mythology of Ned – its not true;  he didn’t go straight for three years.  This furfy is believed in no small part by modern sympathizers because of the airbrushing and photo-shopping of the truth by almost all Kelly writers, as I have demonstrated above, and as recently as 2013 by Peter Fitzsimons.  But this case demonstrates not only the lies that Ned Kelly told, and the willful mistelling of the story by modern writers, it also once again shows the Judiciary functioning in accordance with the Law and fair play, conduct that is completely at odds with Kellys claims then, and sympathizers claims now that the Law was out to get them at any cost.

Another Kelly myth crumbles.

Sunday 12 April 2015

"A Terror to Evil Doers"

“Exploding the Kelly Myth” is the sort of line I could have written,  but the line that grabbed my attention was on the front of The Good Weekend Magazine. I could hardly believe my eyes – and tried not to get my hopes up as I turned to the article entitled “The True History of the Kelly Victims” on Page 14.

Frankly I am getting sick and tired of self-promoting Solicitors and poorly informed so-called journalists and Gallery Curators who cant be bothered asking the hard questions about the Kelly Myth, who just churn over the same tired old lines, rehash the propaganda and unreliable family traditions that glorify Ned Kelly and the Gang. My stomach turned when I watched the Senior Curator of the Bendigo Art Gallery on You Tube say of Ned Kelly the boy 
“ I think he was a boy who experienced really tough times in his life”  
- oh really? And was that saying something important about him? It would be like being asked for a few words about the life of Adolf Hitler and saying he struggled as a young Artist and his water colours never received proper recognition – completely missing the essence and the truth of the man. And even though there is a small noisy group of fanatics who think Hitler was a Hero, I  don’t recall ever seeing a Journalist asking random people on the street “Adolf Hitler- hero or villain?” When are they going to wake up to the fact that the question has already been answered for Ned Kelly too? And no doubt the self-promoting Mr Suta hasn’t gone running back to the  slack Journo on the local Rag to announce why the much hyped letters that he promoted and we discussed here in January have NOT been included in the BAG Exhibition.

So what of this latest Kelly Article? Well, I wasn’t disappointed – in fact I was pleased to read something from a Journalist who for once wasn’t prepared just to regurgitate the old villain-hero rubbish but instead look a bit deeper into the story, and say something important.   The victims being referred to are of course the good Policemen who were killed at Stringybark Creek, and I was delighted and surprised – but I guess I shouldn’t have been, given the location – to read references to “the Melbourne based Stringybark sleuth”, Bill Denheld! Yes, our Bill! The Stringybark Sleuth has a nice ring to it Bill! 
“ I just want to see things right” he is quoted as saying. Exactly!

The article is about yet another Victorian Lawyer, Leo Kennedy the great great grandson of Sergeant Michael Kennedy, the Irish Policeman chased through the bush and killed by Ned Kelly with a bullet fired at Point blank range into his chest. The article says that “for decades Kennedys family maintained an outraged silence as Ned Kellys folk hero status grew. That changed in 2012….” 

One important thing I learned from this article was that originally the so-called Kelly Tree had the names of the slain Policemen carved into its trunk.  Leo Kennedy used to be taken there by his father as a kid to see them – but quite some years back they were concealed by a replica Kelly armour that was fixed over the top of the names. What a disgrace! Such disrespect – but how typical of Kelly fanatic behavior that continues to this day, hiding the truth and denying the murderous reality of the Kelly Gang.

Even in Mansfield where the Policemen are all buried, Kelly fanatics had somehow persuaded local authorities to direct tourists to the graves with signs sporting Kelly armour.  Imagine signage to ANZAC War Graves with Swastikas on them! Disgusting! Leo and his family protested and in 2013 the signs were changed, the graves tidied up and rededicated.

And the fightback continues, as Leo has been working with Bill to “find and mark the path of his great grandfathers final flight, and the place where he died” This ties in with Bills other great quest, to have the authorities acknowledge that his Two Huts site is in fact the true site at which the other two Policemen were murdered, and the place where Kennedys flight began. Leo, Bill and members of  “an International network of History specialists, the Past Masters” are hoping to persuade Heritage Victoria to approve a proper archaeological survey of the site and establish its bona fides once and for all.

So, as the article says, things started to change in 2012, which was also the year that The Kelly Gang Unmasked was published. Perhaps the book added to the Kennedy family’s resolve to end their “outraged silence” but change has continued, the tide is turning and the Kelly fanatics domination of the story is gradually being rolled back. Since then Morrisseys book has been published ( Ned Kelly : A Lawless Life), the Mc Cormick book has been published (Ned Kelly Under the Microscope) and the terminal decline of the worlds greatest Kelly website  (Iron Outlaw) and of the Ned Kelly Forum has continued into irrelevance – a quarter of the year has gone and except for the Ned Kelly Forum members being forbidden to discuss this Blog, literally NOTHING has happened on either of them. I might also modestly hope that despite that, this little Blog is also contributing in some small way, as visitor numbers continue to climb, Posts attract lots of comments and the Fanatics have all but given up their futile attacks on it. This Good Weekend article is a further advance in the Truth telling about the Kelly Outbreak.

Meanwhile, despite the abuse of the Kelly fanatics Bill  continues his relentless search for the truth and for justice for Leo and the other Policemen at Stringybark Creek. Well done guys!