Survival of the fittest in the Kelly Jungle


When I launched my Blog, “Ned Kelly : Death of the Legend”: exactly three years ago I wasn’t at all certain it would last very long. That wasn’t because I thought I might quickly run out of ideas to write about, but because I had recently discovered that people who had a different view of Ned Kelly from  me, people who as recently as last week claimed on Facebook to be “all for free speech” were actually very hostile to the right of free speech if it involved views  contrary to their own.  I knew they were going to do their best to shut me up. This will surprise anyone attempting to engage with the on-line Kelly community for the first time, because early on one inevitably encounters a variation of the oft repeated line “Ned Kelly – hero or villain? You decide “ 
The impression is given that this fascinating story is a puzzle that’s so complex , that there are so many almost impenetrable layers to the truth, that Ned Kelly was such an enigmatic personality that its almost impossible to be dogmatic about any conclusion, and nobody can be sure if Ned Kelly was a villain or a hero. And so the invitation is made to join in the discussion and add your thoughts and ideas to the mix. This is what you find on two Kelly Facebook pages:
‘Ned Kelly Central’ is a public Facebook site which allows people a platform to be part of diverse discussion and document sharing sessions related to the notorious Australian bushranger and outlaw, ‘Edward (Ned) Kelly’ and his family.
‘Ned Kelly Centre Limited aims to inspire, educate and promote a better understanding of the story of Edward ‘Ned’ Kelly and the history of ‘Kelly Country’.
“Read the evidence. Immerse yourself in the story. See the sites. Make up your own mind.” (Ned Kelly Adventure Tours Promo)
What you’ll rapidly discover is that everything will be sweet as long as you decide he was a hero. If you ever go on a walking tour in the Beechworth historic precinct, express the notion that Ned might have been a criminal and not a hero at your peril! You’ll probably be singled out for some not always gentle rubbishing. But go on-line and the rubbishing will be much less gentle.  I found this out firstly by being relentlessly attacked on those and other now abandoned internet forums, for suggesting maybe Ned Kelly WASNT a hero. Eventually places ostensibly created to enable open discussion of anything to do with the story of Ned Kelly expelled me. They actually only want to discuss one side of the debate.
So I started my own Forum, called the Ned Kelly Truth Forum, as a vehicle for my own ideas about the Kelly story. The platform was provided by ‘Proboards’ and the basic one is free. It was a lot of fun setting it up and getting it started, all were welcome, and  a variety of discussions under various headings established themselves and it quickly became quite popular. However the people who campaigned against me previously continued to harass and attack me there and eventually, by prolonged harassment of the Proboards administrators, one of them persuaded Proboards to delete my Forum without  explanation, other than a stock response to emails seeking an explanation, that certain regulations had been violated.
This victory by the pro-Kelly forces only intensified my resolve to NOT be silenced, so I created a second near identical Proboards forum, again it became very popular and yet again, Proboards administrators removed it after prolonged harassment by the same person who sabotaged  the first one, a person wo has repeatedly boasted of this achievement,  the same person who still claims to be “all for free speech”. In fact now he had shot himself  in the foot twice, intensifying my resolve even further to never be silenced by internet trolls and bullies. Other Kelly ‘sympathisers’ recognised the damage he was doing to their cause and asked him to stop, but he hasn’t, and he never will.
So I gave up on the Proboards platform, declining to buy a site from them which may have  provided better security, but I didn’t fancy paying $600 per annum to protect myself from internet trolls, bullies and hypocrites.
And so I found Blogger, another free platform, and began my ‘Ned Kelly :Death of the Legend’ Blog with a certain trepidation. I had no doubt the trolls would again try to eliminate my voice from cyberspace and I wondered how long I would last. After two months there had been less than 500 views,  and in three months I made 20 posts, but nobody commented on 16 of them. Ominously Google had removed one of those 20  Posts after a complaint was lodged about it by the owners of the Ned Kelly Forum (Steve Jager and Trent Cupid):

 

 : Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Post Unavailable
In response to a legal request submitted to Google, we have removed this post. If you wish, you may read more about the request at LumenDatabase.org.
I nervously continued on, but as time went by it became clear that Blogger was NOT going to cave in to harassment by the Kelly bullies, as no more pages were removed and my blog visitor numbers and then comments continued to grow.  Ironically, it was the Ned Kelly Forum that went into decline, people left because they were bullied by the person who destroyed my two Forums, visitor numbers plummeted, posts by members reduced to almost nothing and then dramatically last year the entire thing disappeared after a major dispute erupted between the two ‘Key Masters’. Jager also sabotaged their Facebook page and Trent Cupid seems to have disappeared altogether from the Kelly scene.
So now three years later, I think its fair to say the Death of the Legend Blog is here to stay. In the last month, there have been over 13,000 views and 114 comments posted, and the Facebook page that I started as a way of directing more people to the Blog has developed a busy life of its own.
The attacks and the abuse have of course continued. Given they could not silence me, they banned me from interacting with them on their sites, and changed their focus to the fact that I use a pseudonym. I do this to protect myself and my family from a small group of extremists within the pro-Kelly community who make threats and direct vitriolic abuse at me and others in the Kelly world who don’t agree with them. Recently when the identity of another anonymous commentator was inadvertently revealed, their attacks on this individual became even more grotesque, personal, hateful and slanderous. Nobody has a right to demand to know anyone elses personal details, which should always be accorded the utmost respect.
But rather than address the arguments I and others  advance about Kelly history, or else find something else to do with their time, this group of Kelly supporters prefers instead to waste their time abusing me for protecting my privacy, accusing various people of being me and making abusive direct personal attacks. Here’s a Facebook message I received from one of them last year : Oh and by the way Dee, or whoever you are, I am very very close to unmasking you and when I do I will make sure you are dealt with appropriately. And when I say close, I can smell your vile stench. You disgust me you faceless bastard.”
Here is a list of the abuse directed at me in 72 hours on a Facebook page last week :
*f@&king hypocrite
*it and I mean it is an old balding bloke FFS
*such a lowlife
*oxygen thief
*Dee had to rely on faking posts and still does
*I am all for free speech but put your name to it and be held accountable when you slander others

*Someone hiding behind a fake name has something to hide. Theyre not entitled to an opinion
*Gutless nobody
*We are sick and tired of dees shit
*Campaign of slander against real people with lies and slander
*Deranged state of mind
*Dee has committed criminal offences
*Vile false accusations
*The Lowliest of cowards
*Stalking me and my friends
*Joined the NKF under a false name
*Grub of a human being
*Scum of the earth (two mentions)
*Filthy worm
*Ugly
*Vile blog
*Piece of work (two mentions)
*Mentally unstable, no ifs whats or buts about it
*A skitzo, and a miserable one at that
*This THING is seriously mentally disturbed
*Nameless brainless git
*Brian Tate is not Dee
*Brian Tate and Dee are one and the same
*Disgrace and a lowlife
*Bully that stalks and harasses people
*Sad and twisted individual
I post them to expose the charming nature of a significant proportion of the Kelly sympathisers one encounters in Cyberspace. Who would want to encounter them in the real world? This sort of abuse has been continuing since the Blog began and eventually I was forced to introduce Moderation to Blog comments. My intention had been to allow anyone who wanted to participate  to freely do so – and that still is my intention – but trolls abused that privilege to such an extent that it became necessary to screen comments to reduce the amount of abuse that was being posted. I eventually had to ban 4 individuals who repeatedly posted abuse and irrelevant trolling to the Facebook page as well. At last I think I have silenced the trolls.
But where to from here?
Reading the first few posts that I ever made to this Blog I realise I have learned an awful lot in three years, and I can see why at first nobody was all that interested in reading them. But three years ago when I was quite new to the Kelly story, I found much of it confusing and it wasn’t easy to visualise the overarching narrative. Luckily, during that same three years there have been several notable publications that have provided new and valuable insights into the Kelly legends, – the works of MacFarlane, Morrissey, Dawson and  Kieza in particular. But even on the Blog so much ground has been covered, so many topics have been discussed in detail, so many ideas and facts and references and sources and opinions have been explored , that the real Kelly story is now very much clearer. We now KNOW many of the parts of the legend that are unhistorical myth, which are the lies told by Ned Kelly, which are the imaginative creations of early and later writers, and the true story is emerging from the veil of Legend.
I think exposing as a myth the idea that the Kellys were victims of Police persecution, what I called the greatest of the Kelly myths has been the most important contribution the blog has made to the Kelly story so far, quite apart from being a vehicle for the distribution of the facts about the whole story. The Blog enthusiastically promoted “Redeeming Fitzpatrick’ which was a massive blow to a central Kelly legend, as was the deconstruction of the ‘Republic’ mythology. Solving the Stringybark creek mystery was also ground-breaking. But many lesser myths have also been exposed along the way : the ‘body straps’ story, the idea that Kelly  was Australia’s Robin Hood, the idea that Ned was devoted to his mother….
I also stated as an objective of the Blog, exposure of “the vicious campaign waged by modern day Kelly fanatics against anyone who dares to oppose them.”  Ive certainly exposed it but also demonstrated by the survival of Death of the Legend Blog for three years that their vicious campaigns have not been successful, even though theyre still continuing. The reality is the Blog numbers increase every month that passes, but interest in the sympathiser view of Ned Kelly is falling :their websites are disappearing or failing, their Facebook pages survive only by recycling news stories or else by attacking me, and the once wildly popular Ned Kelly weekend has passed into history.
‘Yesterday however, I received notice that money and resources are about to spent on greatly enhancing the memory of Ned Kellys victims, the three good Irish police murdered by him at Stringybark Creek. The pendulum is at last on the move.

Keep watching this space, I’ve got plenty more to tell.
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22 Replies to “Survival of the fittest in the Kelly Jungle”

  1. Happy birthday. What is the NKF?

  2. NKF was the Ned Kelly Forum. It was already up and running when I joined the Kelly scene. It seemed lively enough to start with but there were a couple of bullies there who eventually put everyone off. By the time it collapsed last year almost nothing ever happened there but I would guess it ran for 5 years. You had to join up to be able to contribute, but anyone could read what was posted there. Later they also had a Facebook Page but I was banned from it, but that disappeared last year as well. Now that they've gone I should probably repost my Comments about it for historical purposes.

  3. Hello Dee,

    Our extensive research has brought up a cousin, non-Lloyd, Quinn, Griffith,or King, of Ned Kelly who certainly had to deal with consequences after providing food, and possibly shelter, to his two destitute cousins and two fellow "outlaws", after there has been the events of "Stringybark Creek".
    The consequences of such guilt by association and small aide to cousins/gang members changed the course of this cousin's life, and affected the choices that he had. Our research, over this Kelly cousin's entire life shows no long term persecution by police. And non for his siblings and parents.

    Posting as Anonymous, but are B, T and T Ryan

    (Will be interested to see if this post is deleted).

  4. Are all those quotes from a Facebook site for real? They sound like they are from someone with a mental problem. It should be shut down. Facebook should be ashamed to let that go on.

  5. Yes they are all exact quotes directed at me! But none of them ever come to the Blog to answer the challenges I put to them about their hero – they say its beneath them, and their thoughts are much too important and clever to ever be wasted on a place like this! So instead they vilify me . Whatever…..

  6. There is a review of the Grantlee Keiza book about Mrs Kelly by Doug Morrissey in April Quadrant https://quadrant.org.au/magazine/2017/04/notorious-widow-kelly/ I just saw this very interesting.

  7. Good review and insights of relevant NE Victoria Communities during that period, and longer term.

    B, T and T Ryan

  8. After reading all about what some have said here there are a lot of others who do not think Ned Kelly was any kind of hero. There is a strong article called Why do we idolise scumbags and sociopaths like Ned Kelly? on the spectator news https://www.spectator.co.uk/2013/02/no-heroics/ I remember being told Ned Kelly was a national hero but I never understood why. Now I don't think so any more.

  9. P.S. Nothing against Ms Ellen Kelly/King though

    B.T.and T. Ryan

  10. Jim Ledbury says: Reply

    Manchester (two days ago) reminded me there were child casualties at Glenrowan. As with Wednesday's coronial report on the Lindt Cafe deaths that blamed Man Monis altogether for the casualties, Ned was solely responsible, eventually and legally, for all the deaths and woundings at Glenrowan. He elected to be there.

  11. Doug Morrissey did a devastating critique of the Grantlee Keiza book which, according to recent comments on this blog, was an outstanding effort. I haven't read it, but was tempted by the praise it got here. Now, I won't bother. Doug spent weeks at PROV Laverton doing his research. He doesn't like Ned or his family. Just like me!

  12. From northern Victoria says: Reply

    It's a disgrace that some of the legal profession including former Chief Justice John Phillips wanted to argue that Ned Kelly didn't get a fair trial. That's just because he wasn't able to give sworn testimony under the law of the time, but like Judge Barry said, he could have made an unsworn statement. It would have been interesting to hear another rambling pack of lies like his Jerilderie Letter. It is easy to blame his young barrister Bindon, but Bindon can't be blamed for not getting the self-acknowledged murderer off a murder charge. Even if he had been acquitted of murdering Lonigan, he could have been rearrested on the way out for murdering the others, or for highway robbery and hostage taking at Euroa, Jerilderie and Glenrowan, all hanging offences. If the Jerildeire Letter had been presented in court the trial might have been few hours shorter with the same happy result.

  13. Macca I read Morrisseys review and thought it was way over the top. Somewhere recently I read a description of Morrisseys "A Lawless Life" as vituperative which was also over the top but I think his obviously profound dislike of Ned and of people who support the Kelly myths is colouring his thinking to the extent that he has lost any semblance of objectivity in this review.. Did he not notice the absence of any significant reference to the Republic in Kiezas book? Did he not notice Kiezas constant reference to Ned Kellys propensity for violence? Did he ever listen to any of Kiezas radio and TV interviews in which he constantly referred to Ned Kelly as a "dangerous criminal"? His description of the Fitzpatrick incident is written in a way that suggests Kiezas view is the polar opposite of what Morrissey describes – e.g. 'there was no sexual molesting of Kate Kelly" but actually Kieza doesn't suggest there was, he describes Ellens role in that as central and driven by anger and hate of the police, and he backs Fitzpatricks version saying it hardly ever varied over many years whereas the Kellys versions changed almost daily.

    Kiezas book is expertly and exhaustively supported, almost sentence by sentence with references to source material, whereas Morrisseys big problem is that he has written a book that is very poorly referenced, and he seems in this Quadrant article to be too ready to go beyond what is verifiable, such as effectively claiming mrs Kelly was a prostitute – what is his source for that? It may just be hearsay from people who hated the Kellys or it may be true but shouldn't there be something to back such an assertion? Lastly, his belief that Mrs Kelly was a thoroughly rotten woman from woe to go is not really supported by the life she led after Ned was hanged. Of course, as any mother would she defended her sons, but she was a victim of Ned Kellys dangerous personality never-the-less. I suggest you get the book and read it. Morrisseys view of the book is not supported by any of the other reviews Ive read. I liked the opinion of one of the reviewers who suggested that Kiezas book was demolishing the Kelly legends not by directly attacking them but by letting them collapse under the weight of their own inconsistencies – (or something of that sort) – a very different approach from Morriseys. I hope that if Morrissey ever gets around to producing the other volumes of his banned trilogy that his next publication attempts to do what Kieza has done and thats back up his claims with exhaustive references. Otherwise it just becomes diatribe!

  14. Jim I agree 100% with the findings about Monis, and I think we can all see the parallel with the hostage taking at Glenrowan. The Kelly devotee who plans to publish a book in three months called Ned Kelly Iron Outlaw will no doubt be pushing one of his favourite barrows in that book, that the Police are to blame for the loss of innocent life at Glenrowan. I wonder if he will be arguing that the Coroner got it wrong about Monis as well? If he expresses such an idea in any public forum in Australia the only people who would back him would be people who hate police, many of whom identify with Ned Kelly because he also hated police.

    In regard to Ned Kellys trial, Phillips and others who argue Ned didn't get a fair trial were at pains to point out their argument was somewhat technical and even if the errors they highlight had been corrected at the time, Kelly may well have still been found guilty of Lonigans murder. They also wrote that the possible mitigating factors in the trial would to have been available to Kelly in any other trial that could have followed for the murders of Scanlan and Kennedy, and the obvious inference is they expected if those trials had occurred he would have hanged for at least one of them.

  15. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    I am still reading through Keiza's 600 page "Mrs Kelly" book, but think it is very different from the FitzSimons "Ned Kelly" book. Keiza has written an in-depth and very readable history about Mrs Kelly. While he may have leant too far towards her as a victim of circumstances, rather than being the instigator of quite a few of them (including her sly grogging, her "furious riding" in Benalla, and in leading the assault on Fitzpatrick), he does not shy away from reporting these facts. So while he clearly has a "soft spot" for Mrs Kelly, it does not prevent him detailing the negative parts of her family and relations criminal affairs. FitzSimons by contrast has written 800 pages of police-bashing nonsense, dumping buckets of sarcasm and abuse on the authorities throughout. Fitzsimons has let his pro-Kelly research squad run riot, and the result is a totally biased and unreliable Kelly version of history, which he probably doesn't care about as it appears to be a best-seller. Maybe he thinks his book got it right – he seems to have got the Ian Jones blessing, but it is error-ridden history for lunk-heads. God help any school kids who get that on their reading list. It would be hard to make a bigger hash of the Fitzpatrick incident. And as for ending with "Vale, Ned Kelly, … You were an Australian original, Mate, we remember you", would he have had a different view if the attempted police train derailment and massacre had succeeded? Is Ned the best he can do in his search for an Australian idol? Or perhaps that doesn't matter in Pete's vision for a glorious Australian Republic. His moral compass seems widely askew.

  16. Trial briefs were carefully prepared for the murders of Const Lonigan and Const Scanlon, but not for Sergt Kennedy for which there was no other living witness than Ned Kelly.

    Today, prosecutors might have tried to present a case using Kelly's own comments and conversations with bank robbery victims. That was not common practice back then.

    I can't wait to get my teeth into the forthcoming "Ned Kelly Iron Outlaw" book. Gggrrrr!

  17. Couldn't agree more, Stuart. I think history will consign FitzSimons' book to the bin. I borrowed it from the library so I wouldn't give him one single cent – and just flipped here and there. Pete whitewashed the whole Kelly story pretty well.

    Damn you Dee, I don't want to have to buy Keisa's book to find whether you or Doug Morrissey is right. I don't like long books. Dagmar Belcarek's "Ellen Kelly: An Historical Novel" (1984) had some tantalising scraps. No refs though.

    "The Kelly Gang Unmasked" reviews the prostitution aspects of the Kelly household on p. 41. Maybe today, Morrissey has more evidence than he had back then.

    Not everyone would choose to have a prostitute living in their home.

    That's a big, fat, historical question mark – isn't it?

  18. Yeah. something we can comment on!

    Two of us can't read Mr Fitzsimons "Ned Kelly", and one of us got copies of the book given by friends as gifts.
    A very talented and colourful writer though.

    Mr Fitzsimons and Mr. Keiza have written almost identical versions of the two 1867 Avenal Petty Court Case appearances of Mrs Ellen Kelly.

    Mr/Dr. Morrissey in his "Quadrant" article at least acknowledges that sister-in-law Ann Kelly/Ryan was highly likely present at only one of these Petty Court sittings. (corresponding with our research of where Ellen's sister-in-law, Ann, was residing -where Ann's husband was paying rates- during this period.

    Mr. Keiza's articulation about Ellen Kelly's brother-in-law Edmund/Edward Kelly leasing land in Beveridge in 1863 is a good note to read as this information corresponds with our research as well.

    B, T and T Ryan

  19. That was suppose to read Morrisseys PLANNED trilogy!

  20. Josh Verdana says: Reply

    Morrissey's doctoral thesis was very well referenced. Quadrant may not require citations.

  21. I also read Morrissey's review of the book and I must say, I was very surprised. I have read the book itself and I thought it very balanced and not sympathetically biased towards Ned at all. Not sure what was on Morrissey's mind when he wrote the review for Quadrant but I think he was well off the mark.

  22. Obviously Constable McIntyre's initial report of the police murders at Stringybark Creek should be included in signage. The Burman photos could be included.

    Not including signage to Bill Denheld's police camp site is a nasty omission.

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