The Kelly Gang were not “Boys”

Burning Icons and False Gods

Today, November 25th is National White Ribbon Day in Australia, a day in which we are supposed to be reflecting on the dreadful scourge of mens violence against women. So far this year in Australia, 78 women have been murdered by men, and countless thousands bashed intimidated and traumatised by their intimate partners. Last night many of us will have watched Part One of journalist Sarah Fergusons gut wrenching investigation into this horror on ABC TV, and if we can stomach it will watch Part Two tonight. This morning I was listening to a discussion on the radio on the same topic and heard that the Federal Government has released “disturbing research which finds dangerous attitudes about violence towards women are deeply entrenched.It shows women are often blamed for attacks against them, men are excused with phrases like “boys will be boys” and the severity of the violence is played down.

Hearing the phrase “boys will be boys” made me immediately recall how common it is to read the Kelly Gang being referred to as “Boys” and just as immediately I realised that the use of this term has an exactly similar effect on perceptions of the behaviours of the Kelly Gang, who were not cuddly scallywags and larrikin “ boys” at all but were grown mature men. Calling them “boys” is a device that somehow excuses much of their violent and murderous behaviour in the same way as people sometimes excuse men who bully women with the same label, implying that as “boys” they are not fully responsible for their actions. The Kelly Gang were adults, they were grown ups, they were men not boys. They were entirely responsible for everything they did and for the consequences of those actions – ( and that includes the death of hostages )

Its interesting see that the modern Kelly myth conforms remarkably closely to the findings of the research mentioned above : victims are blamed ( Kelly blamed the SBC deaths on the victims) men are excused as boys (a popular term in the Kelly world) and the severity of the violence is played down (the planned massacre at Glenrowan is always glossed over)

This “ excuse making” is really what the entire pro-Kelly sympathy network is predominantly engaged in, in making excuses for a life of extreme violence that grew out of an environment of hatred and prejudice. We excuse Neds bullying and thieving and murder by saying he was one of the boys, he was hard done by, his father died when he was 11, the Squatters were greedy, he was poor, the Police were corrupt, he was actually a great guy who knew the Bush and was a skilled rider, he never really meant to kill anyone, it was self defence, he had a great way with words, he was charming to women, his trial was unfair, he was a revolutionary planning a Republic of North east Victoria….endless mostly fabricated excuses for a life of horrible violence that led to the death of three Policemen, his brother, three friends, two hostages and of Kelly himself, not to mention the trail of traumatised victims of his robbery and hostage taking. Wake up Australia, this was a life of horrendous violence!

And this indisputably violent man and proven serial liar, receiving the benefit of all the doubt and the endless string of excuses is promoted as an Icon in Australia! Surely, this is ridiculous and has to stop!

The truth is that if women are going to be protected from violent men, men are going to have to be made accountable, the excuses are going to have to stop, and all violence and intimidation  must be universally and unreservedly condemned. The same has to happen to Ned Kelly.  Regarding Kelly as a hero and making him an Icon is undoubtedly part of the mix that contributes to the violence in our society, and to the violence against women – how could making a violent Killer a hero and national Icon have any other effect ? – its a farce and the great Australian romance with this man needs to end : his violence needs to be called out for what it was : inexcusable, unacceptable, wrong and only worthy of condemnation. The excuses of people who want to claim him as an Aussie Icon and hero need to be challenged – their justifications are all based on fabrications and fairy stories about him, as I have discovered in the last 18 months on this Blog. Its all here for anyone to read, and for anyone to challenge – but of course, there have been very few challenges – the sympathisers make endless excuses about why they won’t challenge but the real reason is clear : mostly they know they haven’t a leg to stand on, so they resort to bulling and abuse.

What this means for me is that I am no longer going to accept the tactic that sympathisers use to keep Ned in the headlines, by saying the jury is still out on the man, that we can never know if he was really a  hero or a villain or something in-between. This is just a dishonest ploy that takes advantage of the average Australians reasonable  fair-mindedness when faced with a question about something they don’t know much about. The truth, as I have discovered and revealed on this Blog, is that we most certainly CAN answer that question : Ned Kelly WAS a villain. He was a bank robber and hostage taker who planned mass murder. He was a violent killer. He was a liar. Most of the popular beliefs about him are wrong. There was never a Republic of North east Victoria. None of the excuses offered for him are acceptable.

The other thing it means for me is that I am going to be a lot less tolerant of the rubbish heaped on me by Kelly sympathisers.  I am not going to be bullied and I am going to make their bullying and intimidation Public whenever I get the opportunity, so everyone will be able to see what these thugs are really like, and what Kelly Sympathisers are capable of. The truth is that Kelly idolatry is simply wrong, it is misplaced and based on ignorance; it promotes violence and thuggery; there is no place for it. I’m over it!

And I am starting here, right now, with this Comment from an anonymous Sympathiser that I received today, a typical example of Kelly thuggery and vulgar intimidation: 

You are a real piece of sh*t, man the f**k up you gutless dog, you seriously have no idea about who knows who and have helped them out in the Kelly community. You are nothing but a gutless Bowral butcher. I’m coming up your way next week with a portfolio of defamation which I intend to produce at you in your office in front of your clients. YOU ARE A C**T OF A HUMAN BEING AND AS LONG AS YOU HAVE MODERATION ON YOUR SH*T BLOG EVERYONE KNOWS IT IS JUST YOU POSTING.” 

And heres vision of a man from todays paper, a man engaged in violent racist protest, another great advertisement for Ned Kelly:

I realise there are a few reasonable Kelly sympathisers out there. They are mostly harmless, but by supporting the elevation of Ned Kelly to Hero status and not questioning his status as an Icon, the ground is kept fertile for idiots like these. 
Instead for the sake of women in our community, lets no longer accept a violent killer as an Australian Hero. Instead lets dispose of this unfortunate icon and make it crystal clear that we regard his life style and behaviour as totally unacceptable, and there were no excuses for it. Getting rid of Kelly idolatry will make Australia a better place.
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9 Replies to “The Kelly Gang were not “Boys””

  1. Dee, I know how you must feel given the personal attacks that have been directed your way. And I can understand why you might be keen to show up the thug that has sent this disgusting email to you by publishing it in your blog – particularly given he seems to know who you are and says he is going to confront you at your office. Personally though, I would prefer you simply ignore it and not give this person and others like him any acknowledgement at all. This website is a valuable resource to history buffs and, perhaps more importantly, teachers and their students who might look to use it as a learning resource. By publishing these stupid comments I think you run the risk of having the site black-listed as an “inappropriate site”.

  2. Thanks for your comments Inquisitive. I must say I do like your idea that teachers and students might use this Blog as a learning resource – so Ive altered the swear words to render them less offensive, and hopefully keep us off the Black List. I remain intent on exposing Kelly thugs to the wider community so that If students do look at this site they’ll be discouraged from joining the ranks of those who see Ned Kelly as a role model and Icon. As for his threat to confront me in my office in Bowral – well I neither live nor work in New South Wales so if he ever made good on that threat – and I don’t for a minute think he will, because I have received several like this one over recent months and he’s acted on none of them – he will make an even greater fool of himself.

  3. I don't see the point in equating the Kelly Gang with the murder of modern day women and "countless thousands bashed intimidated and traumatised by their intimate partners." It is like apples and oranges. They have nothing to do with what these modern day scumbags do even if some of them do have Ned tattoos. Ned and the boys (and, yes, I use it as a term of endearment and familiarity) were always kind and polite and gentlemanly towards women. You also say not to blame the victims. That is very true, but commonsense and using the gift of discernment (if you are blessed by God with it) can go a long way in making sure that you are not a victim to begin with – at least in intimate relationships. At the first sign of abuse in a relationship you should walk or run away. Full stop! Nobody should be so hungry for "love" or financial security that they take what these losers dish out in exchange. Yet, I have seen it countless times in the lives of women all around me. It is really sad and disturbing. Back to the Kellys. Just because some of us enjoy reading about and researching the Kellys, and some of us can relate to some of what they had to go through in their formative years (rural, poor, feeling disenfranchised, etc), does not mean that we condone or celebrate killing and robbing. Why does everything have to be either black or white? There are many shades of gray (maybe not 50, though). There were bad cops then, as there are now. There were good ones, as now.There were some really unsavory folks who were sympathisers, there were some really good ones. Can imagine some of the various hostages (not blaming the victims!) weren't exactly solid citizens but many were. The Gang had many redeeming qualities but they were far from perfect but they were not as bad as many bushrangers before them had been. And on it goes. Can't we just enjoy a part of history in a time and place that resonates so richly with some of us without having to defend everything the Gang did? 🙂

  4. What are your thoughts on the Redeeming Fitzpatrick paper Sharon? I must admit, I see Alexander in a different light after reading it yesterday. The timelines involving travelling between Cashel/Benalla/Eleven Mile I found especially engrossing.

    I have always abhorred the Gang being referred to as "the boys" Dee. The term suggests they were good natured, light hearted good time guys, out for a bit of a frolic that went wrong through no fault of their own. As I get older, I question that mindset. I know when I was Dan and then Neds age, I was an arsehole at times. (probably still am in some peoples eyes..) .

  5. I think he did an excellent job with it. As we all keep saying, the timeline is especially good. I would have never thought to approach it from that minute by minute mile by mile angle. You can tell that he put a lot of thought and effort into this whole thing. Despite all the solid research I still feel in my gut that Fitzpatrick was a bit of a rogue. As I have stated on this blog before in another thread, I think that Fitzpatrick could turn on the charm when it suited him and expertly knew how to "play" people, especially women and that I would tend to believe Sr-Constable Mayes over Fitzpatrick. Still, Stuart Dawson presents some very compelling evidence.

  6. Exasperated says: Reply

    Its a bit off topic, but. Constant recycling of nonsense doesn't 't help anyone.

    Peter Fitzsimons is still misleading people about the leather body straps for which there is not a skerrick of proof. Its in the SMH of 31 Octover 2015:

    "In the light of the book I wrote on Ned Kelly two years ago, I have done several radio interviews this week asking me whether I think there are parallels between the fruitless police pursuit of the Kelly Gang between 1878 and 1880 – from the murders at Stringybark Creek, to the siege at Glenrowan – and the Stocco father-and-son bandits.

    "After all, the police themselves described the Stoccos as "modern day bushrangers," and it is true these modern day crims had a capacity to disappear in deep bush, just like the Kelly Gang, whenever they were cornered. But, that is where the parallels end. The Kelly Gang, who started out as hugely successful horse thieves, were so badly wanted dead or alive, that the police who ventured to Stringybark Creek carried custom-made long leather straps with them – the equivalent now, of police taking bodybags to make an arrest on car thieves. But the modern police were not like that".

  7. Thanks exasperated! I noticed that too and emailed him with this, on November 4th:

    Dear Peter,
    In your commentary about the Stoccos and Ned Kelly the other day you wrote that the Police took custom made leather straps, “the equivalent.. of ..body bags” when they went looking for the Kellys in the Wombat ranges. Its widely regarded in Australia today that possession of these straps is proof that the Police were planning to kill the Kellys if they came across them. Its no doubt why you made the point that modern Police are "not like that”.

    In fact, the incorporation of “leather straps” into the kelly story is a relatively modern addition, and there are compelling reasons to believe that the Police search parties were never supplied with such straps.

    Rather than going into the detail here I invite you to read this Post on the KellyLegend Blog. Its titled “Body Straps: What is the evidence"

    Please read the lively Comments posted in response – you will see fascinating contributions from your Kelly colleagues Bill Denheld and Sharon Hollingsworth, among others.
    Kind regards


    And this was his Reply:

    Peter FitzSimons
    Nov 4

    Tks Dee



    Peter FitzSimons

    Australian Republican Movement

    Somehow I don’t think he would bother himself reading something that was going to prove him wrong!

  8. Sharon my point is simply that if violence against women is going to be eradicated from society, we need to stop making Icons and Heroes out of violent people, and not allow “redeeming qualities” to weaken our condemnation of their behaviour. How can you deny the possibility of a relationship between Kelly Sympathy and thuggery when you and I have been subject to it on-line by leading spokespeople for Ned Kelly? How can there not be a relationship between admiration for Ned Kelly, whose defining motif is the embodiment of violent confrontation, and at the very least acceptance of a view that on occasion violence can be justified? Incidentally I am not aware of actual Kelly descendants engaging in this, but rather self appointed experts and hangers-on!

  9. Pete has an army of researchers who do all his research. He should sack the lot of them. Internet reviews are not, overall, kind to his many books. Criticism often focuses on Peter's made up conversations. I don't know what to think anymore'

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