Saturday 30 September 2017

Ned Kelly was a compulsive liar

Even on Death Row, Ned Kelly couldn't stop telling lies
If anyone doesn’t believe me when I say that Ned Kelly was a notorious liar, here’s a few examples of lies taken from another of the Letters that Ned Kelly wrote. This letter was written from Gaol, 6 days before he was hanged, witnessed by the gaol warder G.W. Evans and signed by Ned Kelly with an ‘X’ because his hand was too damaged to write. 

Kelly sympathisers almost never mention this letter, because of the huge number of lies Ned Kelly tells in it about what happened at Glenrowan. It’s another letter that should be read by everyone interested in understanding the mind of Ned Kelly because it shows that he must have been an almost compulsive liar, piling one lie on another and creating an entirely false and misleading account of what was planned for Glenrowan. We already know he was a shamelessly dishonest person who forged checks and tricked run-holders into signing forged documents involving the transfer of stolen horses, and we have already seen other lies of his, such as that he wasn’t home on the night of the Fitzpatrick incident, or that he killed Lonigan because was behind logs trying to shoot Kelly first. 

I am not sure what being on death row does to a person’s mind but one has to wonder if he wasn’t losing his by this time, because the yarn he spins is so full of holes that it’s hard to imagine that Ned Kelly would have thought anyone would be fooled by it. Its as if his readiness to tell lies became such a regular habit that he could no longer distinguish between reality and his imagination. Or was he so convinced of his own ability to persuade that he imagined if he told a completely new story it would be believed? Either way, when I read this letter I get a very powerful sense of there being something seriously wrong inside Ned Kelly’s head.

His Excellency the Marquis of Normanby,
I take the liberty of bringing under your notice a statement of facts of the Glenrowan affair.

The first thing I waited for was the last passenger train to pass at nine o’clock. I then bailed up a lot of men in tents around the stationmaster’s house as I suspected there were detectives amongst them. I then bailed up Mrs Jones’ Hotel, then Mr Stanistreet the stationmaster, and asked him if he could stop a special train with police and black trackers on. He  said he could stop a passenger train, but would not guarantee to stop a special train with police and blacktrackers exactly where I wanted it.

So then I bailed up the platelayers and overseer and ordered them to pull up the line a quarter of a mile past the station, so as the train could not go any further. My intention was to have the stationmaster to flash the danger light on the platform so as the stop the train, and he was to tell the police to leave their firearms and horses in the train and walk out with their hands over their heads, and their lives would be spared. Also to inform them that it was useless them fighting as me and my companions were in full armour and we could take the train and everyone in it; that the line was pulled up in front of them and I had a tin of powder behind them. So that if they attempted to return I would have blown the line up there as well.”

Here Ned Kelly is attempting to make out that he was forced into ripping up the rails because Stanistreet couldn’t guarantee that he would be able to stop the train. This is a lie. It’s also a lie that all he planned was to stop the train and disarm the Police. Remember his threat in the Jerilderie Letter?
In every paper that is printed I am called the blackest and coldest blooded murderer ever on record. But if I hear any more of it I will not exactly show them what cold blooded murder is but wholesale and retail slaughter, something different to shooting three troopers in self-defence and robbing a bank” 
Wholesale and retail slaughter was what Kelly had in mind for Glenrowan. Not one Kelly sympathiser or apologist has ever argued otherwise.

What we know is that the first thing Ned and Steve Hart had tried to do, on their arrival at Glenrowan in the dead of night was to secretly rip up the tracks with tools they brought with them. However, because they couldn’t, they had either to abandon the whole plan at the first hurdle or else wake people up at gunpoint and force them to lift the rails. Taking hostages and imprisoning them in the Glenrowan Inn wasn’t part of the original plan, but it was either that or give up. So they woke up the men in tents who turned out to be labourers who couldn’t help him, and then they woke up the Stationmaster who also couldn’t help them. However he told Kelly of a couple of  platelayers  who were then brought at gunpoint from their homes further along the line, and the tracks were ripped up. And then what did the Gang do? Wait at the Station with the Stationmaster and see if he could stop the train? No, he imprisoned everyone who got wind of what he was up to because the only way the plan would succeed is if the police never heard about it. The plan was that the train would speed through the station and plunge down the embankment a little further on, with much loss of life either immediately, or in the 'mop-up'operation the armour-wearing Gang would then embark on to kill off any survivors. Ned Kellys promised 'wholesale and retail slaughter'. This would have been a scene of such dreadful carnage that Ned Kellys image as hero and icon would have been destroyed and he would have been remembered forever as a deranged mass killer.

Neds lies about what happened continue : 

This was my first intention, so as to capture the leaders of the police and take them into the bush and allow the superintendent to write to the head department and inform them if they sent any more Police after me or try to rescue him, I would shoot him, and that I intended to keep them prisoners till the release of my mother, Skillion and Williamson. But subsequently I varied my plans.

What I did do is bail up every person that came that way and place them in Jones’ hotel, and on Sunday night I stuck up the police barracks a mile further away, there being only one policeman there, Constable Bracken, who came to the door with a double-barreled gun in his hand, loaded and full cock, but dropped it when I told him to do so. I took him, his wife and child in bed, and told her if any police came there not to let them know. Then I let a man go to stop the train about a mile below the railway station and opposite the police barracks and to tell them that they were in the barracks.’

Firstly, note that Ned Kelly doesn’t say anything about a Republic. Instead, he says the purpose of this huge undertaking at Glenrowan was to capture ‘the leaders of the Police’ and use them as hostages to negotiate freedom for his mother – an absurd notion given she had only a few months left to serve. And why was Bracken not captured till the following night, if capturing the police was central to the plan?   Clearly Ned Kelly is just making stuff up.  But the most despicable lie here is his claim that he ‘let a man go to stop the train about a mile below the railway station’ obviously referring here to Thomas Curnow, the schoolmaster who outwitted Kelly by appealing to his pride and taking advantage of Kellys susceptibility to flattery. As every Kelly sympathiser knows, Curnow tricked Kelly into releasing him from the Inn, and fearing for his life, and against the pleas of his wife he headed down the railway line and stopped the train, saving countless lives with a candle and silk scarf. Neds claim here is a contemptible lie, trying to discredit Curnows bravery and claim that the idea to stop the train was his, and to cover up his own embarrassment at having been outfoxed with a few words of flattery by Curnow. Further on he wrote “The reason I differed from the first plan is I wanted the man that stopped the train to have the reward, as I heard it was to be done away with in three days.”  This is complete and utter nonsense. Outrageous lies!

Heres another of the outrageous lies written by Ned Kelly in this letter:
“It was reported that they did not know who were in the hotel and that there was four shots fired from verandah of the hotel first. This is false. “

And later : “Neither me nor my companions fired a single shot until after I was wounded, which was the third volley from the police, which can be proved by 40 witnesses in the hotel.”

The record, derived from the testimony of numerous witnesses, shows that the Inn was surrounded, the Police called on the Gang to surrender and they replied with a volley of shots, immediately wounding Superintendent Hare in the wrist. The order was then given to return fire. This is how Ian Jones reported it : 

"Hare barged through (it), shotgun held high, swerving sharply to his right as Ned fired. The bullet smashed through Hares wrist and fanned past his body. A following trooper heard him say “Good gracious I am hit the very first shot” The other three members of the Gang opened fire and the flashed lit the verandah  revealing the four unearthly figures…
The Police unleashed a ragged volley of shots. A voice echoed strangely from a steel helmet “Fire away you bloody dogs you can’t hurt us’  Constable Gascoigne called ‘That is Ned Kellys voice’

There are no Kelly sympathisers in the country who could defend all these lies of Ned Kellys, unless they want to claim that he was in some way psychiatrically disturbed, but if they did make that claim what will they then say of the letter he dictated a few days earlier they all love to quote that starts “I do not pretend that I have lived a blameless life…”?  Was that also the product of a deranged mind? None of them will ever want to quote the bullshit Ned wrote in this letter about sending Curnow down to stop the train so he could collect a reward, or only ever wanting to disarm the police, or only firing back at the police after they had fired three volleys at the gang. 

This letter is actually not an aberration induced by the stress of his injuries or his occupation of a cell on death Row - this letter is entirely consistent with Neds behaviour and thoughts through all his adult life, when he was always looking to blame someone else for his misfortunes and always telling lies.

One of the promos for the upcoming bushranger series says of Ned Kelly ; "Legend or Liar?"  The answer is pretty obvious I think. 

Sunday 24 September 2017

Words of Inspiration from Ned Kelly

Anyone interested in understanding the mind of Ned Kelly has to carefully read the entire Jerilderie Letter. The reason you must read the Letter yourself is because it records many of Ned Kelly’s thoughts and it provides a clear insight into his personality.  But you also must read it yourself because most popular descriptions of this letter create a false impression of it, depicting it largely as some sort of political manifesto, a blueprint for the Kelly Republic, a document written by a visionary and nascent political leader. When I first read this letter, I was staggered to realise how different it actually is to what I had been led to expect. What it actually contains is mostly Ned Kelly’s versions of many of the events of his life, and not a single mention of the Republic of North East Victoria. Not one! In fact there are no direct declarations of anything specifically political, and the people who claim there are rely on somewhat hopeful interpretations of a few phrases and even single words to make their case.

There’s little doubt that Ned had a way with the spoken word, as the various groups of hostages that he imprisoned would testify to. His dictation to Joe also reflected that talent, being laced with wit and humour, though it is mostly sarcasm and mockery intended to make fun of police. Everyone has read somewhere his description of the police Inspector Brooke-Smith : ‘.a poodle dog half clipped in the lion fashion… he knows as much about commanding police as Capt Standish does about mustering mosquitoes…he has a head like a turnip a stiff neck as big as his shoulders, narrow hipped and pointed towards the feet like a vine stake”

Or who can forget “the ground was that rotten it would bog a duck in places” or “no doubt they will acknowledge their hounds were barking at the wrong stump”

There are many other notable and memorable quotes purported to be from Ned Kelly, not just from the Jerilderie letter, but from letters he wrote while in prison. The most poetic and visionary among them were not actually written by Ned Kelly but by his Lawyer who claimed they were Neds words. However their style and tone and content is so unlike anything else Ned Kelly wrote that they are obviously not his words – perhaps the most famous being the one that starts: “I do not pretend that I have lived a blameless life…” and another is “If my life teaches the public that men are made mad by bad treatment….” Almost invariably the Kelly quotations promoted are done so in an effort to sustain the Kelly Hero imagery.

The problem for the Kelly sympathisers is that if all of the words of Ned Kelly are looked at, rather than a highly selective group of them, then a truer picture emerges of the thoughts that swirled around in Ned Kelly’s head and dominated his thinking, and its an entirely different one to the popular image. What emerges is a picture of a boastful self-obsessed man burning with rage, desperate to portray himself as the aggrieved party in every negative incident of his life and threatening violent revenge against anyone who contradicted him or stood in his way. The shameless lies, the incandescent rage, the hate directd especially at the police, the viciousness of his threats and his taunts paint a quite terrifying picture of a disturbed man who concluded by insisting his “orders must be obeyed”. This ‘madness’ exhibited in the Jerilderie letter explains everything about the planned madness of his final act, a police slaughter at Glenrowan.

Glenrowan, remember, was Ned Kelly’s plan to murder a couple of dozen Police by wrecking their train, an absolutely monstrously violent criminal act that would have been unmatched until the Port Arthur Massacre one hundred and sixteen years later, in 1996. Even Ian Jones recognised the awful horror of what was planned, but invented the ‘Republic’ mythology so that instead of  having to admit that Glenrowan was indeed “madness” he could explain it away as an act of war. But if he had taken off his Kelly-goggles and re-read the Jerilderie letter, he would have seen the explanation right there in front of him : madness.

So to go a small way to redress the imbalance, here are some quotes from the Jerilderie letter:

“In every paper that is printed I am called the blackest and coldest blooded murderer ever on record. But if I hear any more of it I will not exactly show them what cold blooded murder is but wholesale and retail slaughter, something different to shooting three troopers in self-defence and robbing a bank”

This is Ned Kellys immature reaction to being called a cold-blooded murderer after killing three police. He is saying if people keep calling him names he’ll show them what REAL cold blooded murder is by engaging in ‘wholesale and retail slaughter’ – and this is exactly what he planned for Glenrowan, wholesale slaughter of police. Fortunately he was thwarted by his own incompetent planning as well as the bravery of Thomas Curnow.

I never interfered with any person unless they deserved it and yet there are civilians who take firearms against me for what reason I do not know, unless they want me to turn on them and exterminate them without medicine. I shall be compelled to make an example of some of them if they cannot find no other employment…..but by the light that shines pegged on ant bed with their bellies opened their fat taken out rendered and poured down their throat boiling hot will be cool to what pleasure I will give some of them..”

Here, Ned Kelly pretends to be unable to understand why people might be opposed to his murdering and robbery, and is threatening to torture anyone who opposes him. If he wasn’t pretending then this expression of perplexity about why people might not like him demonstrates a person who is completely out of touch with reality. In fact it is a duplicitous attempt to have people see him as the innocent victim who might be forced to retaliate against unjust persecution. His graphic description of the kind of suffering he would inflict on anyone opposing him is quite ghastly. He goes on :

“Any person aiding or harbouring or assisting the police in any way whatever or employing any person whom they know to be a detective or cad or those who would be so depraved as to take blood money will be outlawed and declared unfit for human burial, their property either consumed or confiscated and them, theirs and all belonging to them exterminated off the face if the earth”

Promising extermination off the face of the earth , and denying a proper burial to anyone assisting the police “in any way whatsoever” is another vicious and violent threat that Ian Jones laughs off as just Ned talking himself up. Jones view might have some credibility if by then all Ned Kelly had done was shoot his mouth off, talk big and make idle threats and boasts. However by this time he and his gang had killed three police and robbed two banks at gunpoint – in the face of these crimes who is going to be so stupid as to laugh off such threats as just ‘talk’? And given what happened the following year, the murder of a former friend Aaron Sherritt and the police slaughter planned for Glenrowan, I think its clear these were never idle threats but genuine warnings of what Ned Kelly was capable of.

“It was cowardice that made Lonigan and the others fight – it is only foolhardiness to disobey and outlaw as any Policeman or other man who do not throw up their arms directly as I call on them knows the consequences which is a speedy dispatch to Kingdom come”

This passage illustrates how confused Ned Kelly is. He earlier claimed that he was “reckoned a horrid brute because I had not been cowardly enough to lie down for them” (the police) and yet, when Lonigan didn’t ‘lie down’ for the Kelly gang, he was labelled a coward! According to Kelly if Lonigan doesn’t ‘lie down’ it is cowardly but if Ned doesn’t ‘lie down’ it isnt! In this passage he also contradicts his earlier claim that his shooting of Lonigan was self-defence. Here however he says it was because Lonigan didn’t instantly obey the orders Kelly had issued – and this is almost certainly the truth. It illustrates the madness of a man who couldn’t tolerate the slightest opposition, the slightest hesitation to respond, the tiniest suggestion that his orders weren’t going to be obeyed instantly.

So I repeat my advice earlier that everyone should read the entire Jerilderie letter for themselves. The anger, the hatred the lies the violence the self-justifications and the excuses are easy to spot. What you will struggle to find is anything noble, inspirational, uplifting or positive, anything that might be expected from someone worthy of the status of an icon or a hero.

Saturday 16 September 2017

Exactly when did Ned Kelly do something heroic?

This post is about the people who claim Ned Kelly was a hero.

What I would like to know from them is what exactly was it that he did that makes him a hero in their eyes. I don’t want to know what they BELIEVE about Ned Kelly, but what they KNOW about him that gave rise to their belief. So, I don’t want to be told they BELIEVE he was a devoted son, or that they think of him as Australias Robin Hood, or that they BELIEVE he and his family were so terribly persecuted and oppressed by the Police that in the end he had to ‘take a stand’, or that they BELIEVE he was going to establish a republic of North East Victoria. No, I want them to explain what they KNOW, what are the FACTS, what is the actual historical EVIDENCE that is the foundation for their BELIEFS about Ned Kelly. What facts can they point to that support the belief he was a devoted son? What facts can they point to that support the belief he was Australias Robin Hood, what facts can they point to that support their belief that the Kellys were persecuted or that Ned Kelly had a Republic in mind at Gleenrowan?

I can think of just two things that we KNOW about Ned Kelly that are on the positive side of the Ledger, facts that could possibly be said to support his ‘hero’ status, but I have to say, to be a real hero these two examples are nowhere near enough.

The first is his rescue of Richard Shelton from Hughes Creek in Avenel. This did actually happen, though as readers of this blog will know there are some lingering doubts about exactly how heroic this deed was. The stories of this rescue mostly describe a raging torrent, but the year of the rescue was one of severe drought, and though one of the Kelly sympathisers claimed he had read many reports of rain and floods that year, 1865, when asked to provide even ONE reference to them he went silent. This is quite typical behaviour for Kelly fanatics – they make claims about Kelly history but never back them up.  But lets give the 10 year old Ned Kelly the benefit of the doubt and accept that he rescued Richard Shelton from a raging torrent. Is that enough to make him an Australian hero and Legend? Of course it isn’t – no-where near enough. If it was enough, then my own father would be a national hero and Legend, as would a school friend of mine because they both, at separate times saved ME from drowning, once when I fell into the harbour off a fishing boat, aged about 6, and later, aged 8 when a strong river current pulled me out into deeper water and I couldn’t swim properly. So, no, rescuing Dick Shelton doesn’t make Ned Kelly a national hero.

The only other positive thing that we KNOW Ned Kelly did was to build his mother a house. But even that wasn’t entirely heroic as he had been living the glamourous life of a ‘rambling gambler’ and criminal stock thief for a couple of years all around Victoria, all the while ignoring the poverty and squalor that his mother and sisters were living in. But let’s give him credit for at least eventually realising her desperate plight and taking time out to lend a hand. But again, that’s nowhere near enough to justify giving Ned Kelly hero status.

So what else do we truly KNOW about Ned Kelly that could justify the status of icon and hero?

The answer, is very little.

Some may nominate the Jerilderie and Euroa bank robberies. Kelly sympathisers see these acts as heroic because in their eyes, Ned Kelly was defying authority and thumbing his nose at his persecutors, the Judiciary, and the Victoria Police. They think it was heroic because in some versions of the story he was trying to get the money together to fund an appeal against his mother’s conviction and gaoling for the attempted murder of Constable Fitzpatrick. The huge problem with THAT narrative is that though the Gang stole a HUGE amount of money – many hundreds of thousands of dollars in todays terms -  much more than would have been needed to fund an appeal, Ned Kelly DIDN’T use the money to fund an appeal or even give it to ‘the poor’. Instead he used it to buy protection for himself. He distributed it amongst friends and supporters who he relied on for assistance and protection in his bid to remain free, and soon these people were seen paying off bills buying fancy clothes and new saddles. The robberies were about purchasing the means to continue to resist arrest and evade capture. The claim he was trying to help his mother was just talk, and it was NEVER backed up by any action.

As for the claim the Kelly’s were victims of Police persecution and oppression and harassment, and this justified his robberies and defiant stand at Glenrowan - where are the facts, where is the evidence that justifies that belief? Surely everyone knows by now that the Royal Commission made an exhaustive investigation into the causes of the Outbreak and declared there was no evidence for such a claim.

In any case not many would agree that an armed gang of four murderers needed to be especially heroic or daring to overwhelm a couple of Police in two tiny rural villages. Neither would many regard threatening old men and women as particularly brave – but that’s what Kelly did. And very few Australians believe robbing banks at gunpoint and taking hostages is an activity that should result in hero status, no matter how cleverly or cheekily executed. And a couple of horse-riding stunts would hardly be amusing to people who had just been held hostage and had their lives threatened by a raving psychopath.  

As for the planned atrocity at Glenrowan, sympathisers claim heroic status for this failed attempt at a police massacre by claiming it was intended to be the founding of a Republic of North East Victoria, or if that’s not enough it was a further attempt to rob banks for money to defend his mother.  We already know the latter excuse holds no water, and the massive problem for the former is that there is not one shred of evidence anywhere that Ned Kelly ever contemplated such a thing as a Republic of North East Victoria. Ned Kelly was renown, and remains famous for his mouth, but in all the hours of lecturing that he delivered to hostages and in all the thousands of words that he wrote in letters, he never once mentioned a republic. Not once. Ever. Instead he vented page after page and speech after speech against police, paranoid delusions about being persecuted, and hateful violent rhetoric about revenge. The idea of a Republic are words put into Ned Kellys mouth by fools who cant see what an appalling liar and violent killer he was, fools who want to cling to a delusional belief that supports their own hatred of Police that Ned Kelly was someone to be admired because he taught the police a lesson.

So what was heroic about the robberies and about Glenrowan if they weren’t done to help Ned Kellys mother, and they weren’t done because the Kelly’s were unjustly persecuted? Whats left is raw criminal intent.

On the negative side of the Hero Ledger, these are the known historical facts : He was gaoled for assault, he was gaoled for indecent behaviour, he was gaoled for ‘feloniously receiving’, he beat Wild Wright to a pulp, he was the mastermind of a criminal stock thieving syndicate ( he said so himself!) he participated in the assault on Fitzpatrick and lied about it, he murdered three policemen, he imprisoned and made hostage farm workers and other citizens including women and children at Euroa and Jerilderie, he robbed two banks of many hundreds of thousands of dollars, he collected a formidable arsenal of guns, ammunition and gunpowder, and planned to murder dozens of police at Glenrowan. He sanctioned the murder of Aaron Sheritt. He created the mess that ended with the death of his own brother, two other friends and two innocent hostages. He also told far too many lies to list here. He was found guilty of murder and hanged.

The Kelly sympathisers, as usual will not attempt to answer any of this. That’s because they don’t have any answers. So, for everyone else: "Ned Kelly – hero or villain?" Its an absolute no brainer!