Dilemma in Dallas: Free speech tensions occupy Dealey Plaza

JFK Postcard

The original story of gunfire that was abandoned.

The commemoration of a catastrophe is a tricky business, we learn from today’s Wall Street Journal.

With the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination approaching in November 2013, Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings has boldly come out in favor of observing the event without talking about its causes.

“For 40 minutes, we need to be focusing on the man, not the moment 50 years ago,” he said.

Welcome to JFK at 50. The moment has come not to talk about the moment. This is a dilemma in Dallas.

Given the rich mythologies of Camelot and conspiracy, the 50th anniversary of JFK’s death on November 22, 2013  promises to be an international media spectacle of no small proportions. Chris Matthews and Bill O’Reilly will unite to denounce Oliver Stone as the world observes a moment of silence for one of the worst days in the history of the United States of America.

Rawlings and the city of Dallas are planning a 40-minute, invitation-only ceremony at the spot where Kennedy died in a hail of gunfire. There will be no talk of the causes of JFK’s death, only talk of his life, they say.

John Judge, an affable leader of the Washington-based Coalition on Political Assassinations (COPA) makes the case to the Wall Street Journal for a more realistic and inclusive ceremony. (Robert Groden, a Dallas resident and expert in the photography of the assassination, has threatened a lawsuit if the city carries out its plans.)

“It’s absurd to move the discussion of his death to another moment,” Judge said. “Our First Amendment rights are being violated.”

Judge is insisting that the official 50th anniversary ceremony take cognizance of what many Americans regard as common sense: that President Kennedy was ambushed by his political enemies on November 22, 1963.

That popular view, however, is  a controversial proposition to an influential minority in Dallas and Washington. Among such people, the idea of giving public expression to  such beliefs would be undignified, almost crazy. Thus the city fathers are downplaying talk of ”conspiracy” as inappropriate.

Is avoidance the best approach to an enduring public controversy?

Judge says no. He is inviting the city fathers of Dallas and the people of Dallas, and people from all over the world who  who want to honor the slain liberal president next year,  to join the people who have been doing so for a  long time.

Judge and other dogged dissenters from the government’s official “lone gunman” theory have gathered at Dealey Plaza every Nov. 22 since 1964.

Next year, he told the Journal, will be the first that Dallas hasn’t granted a permit for the meeting, which usually involves a moment of silence and a few speeches. He said the city should move its ceremony elsewhere, adding that his group’s members would find a way to disseminate their theories during the city event, possibly even dropping protest banners from nearby buildings.

via JFK Conspiracy Theorists Seek Inclusion in Ceremony – WSJ.com.

16 comments

  1. D Jon Davies says:

    How did all those conspirators get Oswald to pull the trigger ? You have zero proof just conspiracy theory. It’s getting old too.

    • I don’t know who was shooting JFK in the head from behind the stockade fence on the grassy knoll – 33 yards away. But I know who put him (them) there! And that it sure was *not* Oswald doing any shooting. I suggest you read the book “LBJ: The Mastermind of the JFK Assassination” (2011) by Phillip Nelson.

  2. D Jon Davies says:

    Another book trying to raise reasonable doubt, that’s all the Conspiracy Theorists can hope for.

  3. Mark Groubert says:

    Rob: Who is D Jon Davis and why is he trolling on this site? Good piece, Rob. Good piece, Jeff. If this is going to be a trolling site it really seems pointless to continue, which is what Mr. Phony Name would like. Jeff can you please do a little management of your site as you did with my rather spot on comments a few weeks ago? Thanks.

    • D Jon Davies says:

      Jeff do you really want kooks and paranoids to discredit you and your site ? You guys had 50 years to prove someone other than Oswald did the shooting, you need more time ? Making the case more complicated than it actually is and trying to make people believe everything that happened was impossible is all part of the Epic Fail for the CTs.

      • jeffmorley says:

        Hi D Jon,

        I disagree with your assertion that the people commenting here are “kooks and paranoids.” And I disagree with you that we are making the JFK case more complicated than it is. I also disagree with Mark when he calls you a “troll.” (He may know that for a fact, but I have no evidence of that.)

        I will say agree with you that there is no proof that any one individual participated in a conspiracy to kill JFK. But that is hardly the end of the matter.

        There is evidence that Lee Harvey Oswald believed there was a conspiracy (as implied by his statement that he was “a patsy” and the fact he was killed in police custody.) Bobby Kennedy, Jackie Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Fidel Castro and others believed there was a conspiracy, although none them had definitive proof. Their views cannot be dismissed as the opinion of “kooks and paranoids.”

        My own view is that the “conspiracy” debate in misguided and, outside of a court of law, off the point. In 30 years of writing about the assassination, I have never sought to vindicate any theory of the crime. I seek to complete the record of the assassination, a task made impossible by CIA censorship of JFk-related documents and journalistic indifference.

        This site seeks to end both the secrecy and the indifference by focusing people’s attention on the factual record of JFK’s assassination, not the theoretical debates. If you can site specific language of JFK Facts posts that “make things more complicated” than reality requires, we would have the basis for a useful discussion. In the absence of specifics, its a little hard to address your claims.

      • jeffmorley says:

        Hi D Jon,

        I disagree with your assertion that the people commenting here are “kooks and paranoids.” And I disagree with you that we are making the JFK case more complicated than it is. I also disagree with Mark when he calls you a “troll.” (He may know that for a fact, but I have no evidence of that.)

        I will say agree with you that there is no proof that any one individual participated in a conspiracy to kill JFK. But that is hardly the end of the matter.

        There is evidence that Lee Harvey Oswald believed there was a conspiracy (as implied by his statement that he was “a patsy” and the fact he was killed in police custody.) Bobby Kennedy, Jackie Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Fidel Castro and others believed there was a conspiracy, although none them had definitive proof. Their views cannot be dismissed as the opinion of “kooks and paranoids.”

        My own view is that the “conspiracy” debate in misguided and, outside of a court of law, off the point. In 30 years of writing about the assassination, I have never sought to vindicate any theory of the crime. I seek to complete the record of the assassination, a task made impossible by CIA censorship of JFk-related documents and journalistic indifference.

        This site seeks to end both the secrecy and the indifference by focusing people’s attention on the factual record of JFK’s assassination, not the theoretical debates. If you can site specific language of JFK Facts posts that “make things more complicated” than reality requires, we would have the basis for a useful discussion. In the absence of specifics, its a little hard to address your claims.

    • jeffmorley says:

      Hey Mark. Your question, “Who is D Jon Davies?” is apt. I hope he will identify himself in a short factual way and I hope you will too. If I was asked that question, I would say “I’m a journalist and author in Washington DC?” How would you I identify yourself D Jon? Mark?

  4. D jon Davies says:

    I’m 49 years old and read the books in the 1980s and was a listener of Mae Brussell’s, I believed we were not told the truth and the reason was Vietnam but I never believed Oswald was innocent, I just don’t know the entire truth, neither did RFK. The first poster made some kooky allegations and now his post has been deleted or I can’t find it for some reason.

    • jeffmorley says:

      Well, we have some points of agreement D Jon.

      I never believed Oswald was innocent, at least if “innocent” means innocent of knowledge that something was going to happen on November 22. I think it is clear he was not innocent in his sense. The killing of the president created some sense of personal danger for him. Why else would he have gone home and retrieved a handgun?

      And I agree with you that we “don’t know the entire truth.”

      That’s what we’re after here: the entire truth, factual, not theoretical.

  5. D jon Davies says:

    The truth might be that our Inteligance Community just let Oswald slip through the cracks or they dropped the ball entirely or they knew he was a loose cannon and let it happen. I’m just way beyond the Oswald was set up..even with that we have no answers. Cheers.

    • jeffmorley says:

      The CIA clearly let Oswald “slip through the cracks.” For more details, you should read my piece, “Did the CIA track Oswald before JFK was killed,” which will be published on JFK Facts on Jan. 2, 2013.
      You allow the possibility that the CIA “knew Oswald was a loose cannon and let it happen.” That would constitute criminal negligence and should, of course, be acknowledged and disclosed immediately. In my recent article for theatlantic.com, “What Can We Do About JFK’s Murder?” I wrote that I think there is compelling evidence of criminal negligence in the wrongful death of JFK.

      The CIA’s continuing effort to suppress JFK-related records calls into question the CIA’s good faith on the JFK story. If you think the CIA’s position is obtuse, if not suspicious, please sign the ever-growing petition calling for release of these records.

      • I am definitely not buying the CIA and military intelligence was “negligent” in the JFK assassination.

        Nope, they were quite successful. Like Vincent Salandria, I believe the JFK assassination was an obvious murder of the president by the national security state.

        http://spot.acorn.net/jfkplace/09/fp.back_issues/27th_issue/vs_text.html

        “The JFK Assassination: A False Mystery Concealing State Crimes” by Vincent J. Salandria

        • jeffmorley says:

          I’m not asking you to buy anything, Robert. And I know what you believe. (Do you think you have not devoted enough effort to letting us know?)

          When I say “criminal negligence” I’m not expressing a moral opinion about JFK’s assasssination, I’m just describing the evidence.

          You say “conspiracy” is so perfectly self-evident that any idiot can see it (and if I don’t agree I’m an idiot). That’s not terribly persuasive mode of argument to the people who you are talking to. I happen to read the evidence in a different way.

          You insist for a big conspiracy, that JFK’s murder was orchestrated almost a matter of policy. In my view, the written record and oral histories of the period, don’t quite support that proposition (even if you include the recollections of Madeleine Brown). Your “LBJ did it” theology IMO relies on extrapolation and speculation, which by their nature are hard to verify and thus to share.

          So sue me, but I happen to think the concept of “criminal negligence” fits the evidence better. It’s more likely to persuade a jury of my peers.

  6. Andy in Oregon says:

    I was 12 years old and in the 7th grade at a Catholic school in Tulsa, Oklahoma the day JFK was assassinated. I was also a newspaper delivery carrier for The Tulsa Tribune, the evening newspaper in Tulsa. It’s now defunct, of course. But I still have the copy of the Friday, November 22nd, 1963 “stop the presses” run that described what they knew at that point. The evening paper tells a lot of details about the event.

    Keep in mind, this was in the age before computers. All the typing and typesetting had to be done by hand. They had already almost run the evening edition, but they “stopped the presses” and reran the updated version, announcing his death at 1:00pm.

    By 5:00pm, I had my bundle of newspapers at the paper stop. I lived way out in the suburbs on the fringe of the city.

    The amount of detail they had in such a short amount of time is incredible.

    Remember, everything was done manually in those days. The teletype from the Dallas reporters had to be received, typed up, typeset, printed, bundled, addressed to us carriers, then trucked to us.

    I finished my deliveries about 7:00pm that night. Normally I was done delivering the paper by 5:30pm every day.

    I had never seen Catholic Nuns cry until that day and never saw it again.

    We had no school the following Monday, either.

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