My mother told me once that when I was a kid and she asked me if I had done something naughty I would always admit that I had. She said that I was so honest that she never had the heart to punish me. I sometimes wonder if that honesty is a curse. It sure gets me into a lot of trouble. I am always blowing the whistle on popular beliefs that I can see to be wrong -- as my GREENIE WATCH and FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC blogs attest. If I went with the flow, I would have a lot more fame and fortune, I think. But I do pretty well anyway. My latest bit of skepticism is:
"Some people even believe that William Zantzinger killed poor Hattie Carroll"
And I am sure that we can all remember Bob Dylan (aka Shabtai Zisel ben Avraham) singing that accusation in his nasal voice. But as far as I can see, Zantzinger was innocent. "Zantzinger" is a marvellous name to conjure with (Dylan even invented a "diamond ring finger" to rhyme with it) so no wonder Dylan was tempted but even Dylan's biographer says that the song was a libel:
The Dylan song followed him around his whole life, though he steadfastly refused to talk about it with reporters. In 2001 Bob Dylan biographical Howard Sounes actually got a quote out of him. "[Dylan] is a no-account song a bitch," Zantzinger said. "He's just like a scum bag of the earth. I should have sued him and put him in jail. [The song is] a total lie." Clinton Heylin - perhaps the world's authority on all things Dylan - seems to agree. "Dylan's concern was not the fact themselves but how they might fit with his preconceived notions of injustice and corruption," he wrote in Behind The Shades. "That the song itself is a masterpiece of drama and wordplay does not excuse Dylan's distortions, and 36 years on he continues to misrepresent poor William Zantzinger in concert."
What actually happened seems to be that Zantzinger was drunk after a celebration and did insult the lady and tap her on the shoulder with a toy cane but that did not kill her. She died several hours later of her chronic medical condition: hypertension, arteriosclerosis and a burst cerebral aneurism -- a "stroke" in popular parlance. Zantzinger was convicted of manslaughter because his actions were deemed to have brought on the stroke but that is speculation. Clearly, if the woman had been in normal health, nothing would have happened. So the light sentence Zantzinger received reflected his very low level of culpability rather than anything more sinister. If the court had really been "racist" or even fair, it would not have convicted him of anything at all. And Zantzinger's continued good standing in his community can also be seen as a judgement about his innocence rather than as evidence of "racism" Who among us has not committed indiscretions while drunk?
Hey! Aren't the Lefty whiners who monitor me going to love this one! I wrote the last sentence above ("Who among us...) with them in mind. They will surely use it as a summary of what I say about Zantzinger. Leftists love to quote out of context. The whole truth is generally too destructive of their simplistic ideas. I should have mentioned previously that my fellow Brisbane conservative blogger Leon Bertrand gives the whiners concerned a hard time occasionally.
Posted by John Ray. For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. For a daily survey of Australian politics, see AUSTRALIAN POLITICS Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me (John Ray) here