The Charlotte News
Saturday, April 9, 1938
Site Ed. Note: There was a time, as we are told by "Defenders of the Stork", when censorship was the reigning call of the day--from anything deemed merely politically or religiously apart from what was deemed by the ruling orders, locally, statewide, or nationally, to be appropriate, to that which was deemed salacious or intemperate, such as apparently the depictions in Life of the birth-cycle were to the rulers of Asheville and Raleigh of the time. Suppression was the ruling order in many areas and parts of society.
And, hard on the heels of one world war, there came another.
The lesson, perhaps, is at least twofold: first, that suppression of certain things deemed objectionable as stimulative of prurient intrigue is so subjective as to reach ultimately and always the extremes of the preposterous, to the point that the desire for censorship (and, not coincidentally, political power) stimulates even those who profess a belief that the womb is a place not to be invaded even by a publicly displayed artist's drawing, displayed for purely physiological understanding of the process of birth, or such as that which Cash had sardonically set forth in March, 1928 in one of his Moving Row pieces for the News regarding the citizens of Greenville, S.C., wishing to hide the private parts sculpted into the statuary of the Apollo Belvedere; second, harder to prove, but probably not without cause and effect, that the suppression of such things generally in society, whether that depicted in "Pep", "Silk Stocking", or the modern equivalent, far peppier probably, may, and probably does, lead only to the abnormal venting of natural urges, thus repressed, through other means, the concomitant, violence, produced of the frustration of that which is thus repressed. And when violence from such repressed urges is multiplied in a society to manifold proportions, warfare inevitably results, whether warfare on the society's own populace, that of another country, or a combination thereof. Nazis, for instance, were obviously one big ball of repressed urges seeking a vent, finding only manly violence as a means acceptable to the society perceiving itself emasculated after Versailles.
A few issues of "Pep" might have been the best anodyne for the sickness which beset Hitler and his pals, most, if not all, of whom not surprisingly appear in hindsight to have suffered from one form or another of sexual psychosis.
While on the subject of violence and sexual deviancy and their psychological association, one serving as vent for the repressed urges developing slowly over time into the other, not socially acceptable, we feel compelled to remark on one of the more preposterous presentations we have ever seen presented surrounding the assassination of President Kennedy--which is saying quite a lot as we have seen and read and heard quite a number of preposterous such accounts. But this one, for the time which has elapsed since the event and given what we have come to understand about it since, seems more preposterous than most. We saw it just last evening on The History Channel, though it appears to have aired before and been around a couple of years or so. Its focus, bordering on if not surpassing propagandistic myopia, was "conclusively" to prove that only Oswald acted in the assassination. Its key "new" piece of "evidence" (one which has been around since at least 1993 in other forms) was a "precise" 3D computer model of the plaza, purporting to trace the path of a single shot into the President's back, exiting just above the collar, entering Governor Connally's back and exiting his chest. It even provided a nice, neat red line, perfectly straight, drawn on the computer, which leads right back to the sixth floor window.
But, there is a distinct problem.
This is not a "precise" computer model.
For bullets do not travel in perfectly straight lines.
First, there is the wind, which was evident from the blowing pennons on the limousine at the time the bullets were fired. (Some of that blowing could be attributed to the movement of the limousine itself through the air, but the two on opposing mounts of the front fenders blow in varied directions and sometimes the right one doesn't blow at all but coils onto its mast while the left one continues to flap in the breeze hither and thither, mostly to the left side and to the rear; thus indicating that there was some breeze blowing back up Elm toward and away from the front of the Depository at the time.) Wind ever so slightly affects the trajectory of a bullet.
Second, there is the curvature and rotation of the earth, the so-called Coriolis effect. The longer the range, in this case about 200 feet, the more this factor impacts trajectory. Thus, the flight path of a bullet, especially as it travels over several yards, is actually curved, not straight.
The combined effect of these variables is why expert military snipers, for instance, have precise sight adjustments on their telescopes these days to compensate the aim, calculating range, which includes the Coriolis effect, and wind direction and speed; even so, they occasionally miss. Regardless, they do not shoot in a straight line. Were it so simple, there would be no Olympic sport for target shooting.
Third, as any schoolchild could determine (as we found it problematic at the time of the assassination when we were in fact a schoolchild) the downward trajectory of the bullet, assuming it from the sixth floor, into the back just above and to the left of the right shoulder blade does not produce an exit straight through at the neckline. The path would have to be downward at such an angle that an exit would have been out the President's chest, much as that of Governor Connally's wounds. Such a path as posited by the lone nutnik theorists, slightly relaxed as to angle by the downward incline of Elm Street, is inconsistent with fire from the sixth floor, unless the President had been slumped steeply forward at the time, which he wasn't at the point of the supposed impact of this bullet. He was sitting erect, waving to the crowd.
Indeed, something visible in Parkland Hospital diagrams, not usually discussed, is that Governor Connally's exit wound in the chest is on an acutely downward track of about 30° from the entry wound of the back, an angle probably consistent with an upper floor of the Depository. The same angle, however, when transposed to President's Kennedy's supposed wound of exit at the collar line would mean the bullet's trajectory was from the back of the basal part of the head, just at the top of the neck, not as it was, just right of the midline of the back, several inches below the neck (indeed, substantially higher than even the Warren Commission diagram depicted it, itself showing the back wound substantially higher on the back than it actually apparently was).
There are numerous other problems with this presentation, which others have covered for decades now, primarily a failure to explain why, if the single bullet shattered the Governor's right wrist, as perforce it had to have done for the single bullet theory to work, his right hand is still firmly holding his hat at the time he is supposedly being shot with this bullet. But, as with that on which Mr. Posner also laid heavy emphasis in his 1993 book, Case Closed, the original film also depicts at frame 224 what some claim to be the Governor's coat lapel flapping up, presumed to be the result of the exiting of the bullet from his lung, the same bullet which had hit President Kennedy an instant earlier. (Never mind that the Governor's expression and body movements do not change at this time, as they do plainly at frame 233, a half second later.) This supposed coat lapel flapping, however, is probably not that at all; the film blurs at this point, perhaps in slightly delayed reaction by the photographer to the sound of the shot which struck President Kennedy; the person standing across, on the other side of Elm Street, directly opposite the limousine, in what looks to be a flack jacket, has his whole face suddenly disappear in a black spot at precisely this same frame, 224, the result of shadows and light blurring in unsteady movement of the camera in combination with the low quality 8mm film of the day. Indeed, at frame 168, before anyone was shot, the entire right side of the President's face becomes blacked out, similar to the Governor's supposed "flapping" coat lapel, for just one frame, again just a light and blur anomaly on the film, not the result of any actual event. One cannot see this supposed flap again after frame 224 because of blurring and changes in position of the car and the Governor vis á vis the camera. Indeed, it would make little sense for the lapel to have flapped completely over, as the frame would suggest if interpreted that way, from a bullet whizzing through the coat as opposed to the bullet piercing through the lapel as well or, if only nicking its edge, just barely ruffling the lapel, much as a bullet indisputably nicked the collar of the President's shirt, (though it is not clear whether from exit or entrance). A bullet still possessing enough force to exit the Governor's chest, shatter his right wrist, deflect and wound his left knee, had sufficient force certainly still upon exit from his chest to penetrate a lapel without flapping it up and over.
The likely scenario is a bullet entering the back of the President in a shallow wound, thus accounting for the stretcher bullet found at the hospital, a nearly simultaneously fired bullet from the front entering the throat, consistent with the attending physicians' testimony that this wound was small and consistent with a wound of entry before being enlarged for a tracheostomy, and then an entirely separate bullet striking the Governor from the rear. And with that, of course, the single shooter scenario falls apart on two scores, even if the President's throat wound was one of exit. For if the same bullet did not hit Governor Connally, then, as everyone concedes, there was not enough time between the two shots for the same shooter to have fired them. The earliest clearly visible reaction of President Kennedy is at frame 224, immediately after emerging from behind the freeway sign. There is, however, some disturbance for just an instant as he disappears behind the sign, a quick look to the left and some apparent reaction in the form of a fixed stare forward, plainly visible at frames 205-206, a full second or slightly longer before 224, remembering that the film traveled at about 18.3 frames per second, and about a second and a half or slightly longer before the first clearly visible reaction of Governor Connally to being hit. Either time-frame is inadequate for working the bolt mechanism and re-firing the rifle, requiring 2.5 seconds, let alone re-aiming it as well.
And if the bullet struck the President at 205-206, rather than just before 224, (for he is clearly reacting, not just starting to react at re-emergence from behind the sign at 224), it is impossible for the same bullet to have caused visible disturbance of Governor Connally only a second later, at 224 when the supposed lapel flap occurred, complicating even more the delay in reaction by the Governor until 233. The bullet was traveling at approximately 2000 feet per second when fired. Moreover, if one is compensating for visible human reaction time, one has to apply the same rule to both men obviously, seated within arm's length of each other, such that it would be only logical that both men hit by the same bullet would react virtually simultaneously, certainly within one frame of each other on the film, not a half second or up to one and a half seconds apart.
It goes on, of course.
But, again, a question not answered by any of the lone nutnik theorists is why it is that there is, among other disproportionately large figures, a man in nineteenth century garb on a horse with a little girl facing him, just above the wall on the grassy knoll in the very same version of the Moorman Polaroid photograph which appeared in newspapers nationwide by Monday, November 25, 1963, if not earlier apparently in some areas of the country, even as early, some sources say, as Friday mid-afternoon wire service availability.
And, again, if you never realized that about the Moorman photograph before, we aren't surprised. We didn't either until a few months ago, after we blew it up, deliberately cutting off that to which the eyes are naturally drawn sympathetically, the lower half of the photograph, just a split second before the final shot.
But then, as a man quoted in this documentary tells it--the same man who brought us the story of the shy White House intern who claimed to have had the affair, one who so desired her privacy 41 years after the claimed affair that she felt compelled in 2003 to tell the world of her otherwise non-disclosed identity at that time, just the same week this man's book was published--, perhaps we are just one of those poor victims who cannot accept that one lone nutnik, a defector to the Soviet Union three years earlier, could get a job by coincidence a month and a half before the President's limousine just happened along in front of where he worked, just at a time when he happened to own a World War II Italian surplus mail-order rifle and wanted to prove to the world he was somebody, after having practiced, and missed, in April of the same year on the stationary target of a rightwing, racist retired Army General. We simply cannot accept the Truth of that--the Truth as elucidated to us by the expert opinions of expert writers of contemporary history, such as this man and his cohorts quoted in this documentary dedicated to one purpose.
The facts, however, as well as the willingness to think through them with more than one possible scenario in mind, appear to be something missing in their pursuit of that purpose.
We think it rather that it is they who cannot fathom or accept that there was most probably simply a coup that day, most likely designed and carried out by rightwing, racist, militaristic nuts, including very probably a retired General or two or three or four, displacing certain repressed urges with violence.
So, if these historians and writers of the Truth are so imbued with that Truth, we suggest that they get on tv (again) and explain to us, rationally, why it is that this picture is at it is and was, if not for the purpose of obliterating the fact of shooters behind the fence and tree. Explain it; we'd like to hear your preferred explanation. This was the work of Oswald, too, no doubt, and indisputably and conclusively, we suppose you to want to tell us, as painful and discordant to your true preferences as that conclusion is for you to reach. But, whatever you say, please don't say it was to hide the identities of insignificant, innocent persons who were shy about having their identities revealed. If that were the case, obviously, there are ways to obliterate identities from photographs, such as simply masking them out on the enlarger to produce darkened areas such that the tree and fence and wall would have appeared as merely the tree and fence and wall, without the colorful collage of images impressed upon them as the final contemporaneously published version of the Moorman photograph has it.
Or, perhaps there was in fact a huge man on a horse in the tree that day--a dark horse with a Crusaders' cross affixed to its flank.
Almost a Classic
Attorney General A. A. F. Seawell, in an address on highway safety, was on the verge of uttering a classic piece of common sense. Instead, he spoiled it; and what might have been a marvelously unique contribution to highway safety became just another speech, better than ordinary.
His premise was this; that--
"In this state, traffic laws are notoriously violated, and these violations of the law are commonly ignored unless serious injury or loss of life or property has resulted."
The corrective to apply in such a situation is, plainly, law-enforcement. It would be simple. All that has to be done is for someone in authority to issue a direct order, "Enforce the law." And for a moment we thought that was what Mr. Seawell was going to recommend.
But he went on to compound his advice by saying that an aroused public opinion, "amounting to no less than righteous indignation," was a prerequisite. And aroused public opinion is an indefinite, invariable, unwieldy, abstract force, whereas a simple order to the cops to bear down may be writ in black and white and carried out in a jiffy. Sometimes we think that all this talk about educating the people to play safe on the highways but obscures the unwillingness of the officials to make them play safe, which is almost what Mr. Seawell came down to saying.
Defenders of the Stork
Our proud belief that Charlotte is the most strait-laced town in these parts is a little shaken this morning. For Charlotte apparently isn't going to insist officially upon believing in the story--not unless Mayor Douglas reverses that first sensible opinion of his that the pictures in the current issue of Life are educational and not salacious. In Raleigh and Asheville, it is different. Both have banned the magazine from their newsstands.
There is a curious irony in this. The magazine merely depicts, by drawing, the growth of a child in the mother's womb, and, by photographs picked up from a moving picture, indicates, rather than actually reveals, the process of its birth. There is nothing obscene or salacious here unless you insist that human birth itself is obscene and salacious, and that the stork is the only decent thing. We doubt that even a sexual degenerate would be likely to derive sexual titillation from these pictures.
On the other hand, on the newsstands from which the stork towns had banned these pictures, you can buy, and could buy at any time for years past, magazines which pander openly and boldly to salacity with pictures of naked females in provocative poses and with grossly suggestive stories. There is one called "Pep," for instance. Another called "Parisian Nights." Another yclept "Silk Stockings." The last thing they want to depict is the birth of babies. It might be better for their immature readers if they did.
We are nothing if not ingenious--we Americans. There's that business of social security numbers, for instance. The cards are always getting lost, and causing no end of trouble to their owners and the Government. And though we're perfectly willing to be regimented so long as it means something in our pockets, we still shy away from wearing a dog tag around our necks or generally following the example of the chorines who get their numbers tattooed on their stock in trade.
Wherefore, we see by the advertisements of a local jeweler, the streamlined birthstone ring. The birthstone ring is very old, as old as the belief in talismans, perhaps. If you were born in February and wore an amethyst, for instance, you were protected from descending into lying and drunkenness and ending up in the quarters of Auld Hornie. But the new streamlined ring not only secures you such old-fashioned advantages, but affords insurance against more modern perils, too. Around the stone in huge characters appears the legend: "Social Security--D85--07--7721." A sort of de luxe dog tag, you see. Guaranteed to save you from loss of identity. And with this sardonic comment parked to one side of the number, "E Pluribus Unum."
Pork and Partisanry
One of the very few amendments written into the reorganization bill by the House yesterday, which later sent the whole measure back to committee, is a clue to the mood which gave a Democratic Congress the nerve to repudiate a plenipotent Democratic President. This amendment was introduced by Representative Fuller, an Arkansas Democrat, and its purport was to reserve to Congressmen some say-so about the appointment of postmasters back home.
In fine, it was a strong odor of pork that emboldened the House to rise up in revolt--that and one other factor of perhaps equal weight. To humble Roosevelt was the tie which bound every last Republican member in a solid bloc of opposition. Augmented by Democrats of the same intention, the result was what they had sought.
It changes nothing, of course, but merely perpetuates the status quo. With his ordinary executive powers, the President still may promulgate orders combining, eliminating, reshuffling bureaus and extending the civil service. And yet, it does change something--for it eliminates the possibility that the Government, which has been devoting itself to the reform of the country these last years, is capable of reforming itself. It saves others; itself it cannot save.
Henceforth, those who fancy themselves to be liberal may, again with a clear conscience, resist the extension of government into the private concerns of the individual. For what we have to contend with is patently, the traditional politicians--the fellows who want theirs first.
Betrayal at the Right
One of the things which becomes more and more clear in our time is that the unity of nations is menaced, not only by the extremists of the Left but also by the extremists of the Right. The Kerensky government in Russia succumbed as well because of the activities of the reactionaries who sought to restore the old oligarchy as because of the activities of the Bolsheviki. Spain has been wrecked and sold out to the rule of foreign powers, not by Reds but by Whites. And currently there is the case of France.
That country stands before the gravest crisis it has faced since 1914. Mussolini is ensconced at its Spanish backdoor, defended only by the natural rampart of the Pyrenees, and blocked the road to its essential colonies in North Africa. Hitler, by force and seduction, is rapidly destroying its influence--and its markets--in Central and Eastern Europe. In brief, France is in imminent danger of being reduced to the status of a second-rate power, and imperatively needs national union and concerted action.
But it can't get it. And it can't get it because both the Reds and the Whites place doubtful class interest above those of the nation--because of the Communists in Paris and the northern manufacturing towns, and because of the rentiers in the Senate. But the case of the last is more astonishing than the first. The Communists admit quite baldly that they despise the whole idea of nationalism, and believe, at least, that they have nothing to lose in whatever happens to France as a nation. But the rentiers profess to be the most patriotic of patriots--and nothing is plainer than that the reduction of France to a second-rate status means certain ruin for themselves.
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