Monday, April 8, 2013

Hey Jesse!

On the Diane Rehm show the other day, the talk turned to gun control, and the new, more restrictive laws just passed in Connecticut and Maryland.

Because Diane Rehm's show is carried by affiliates of NPR, the conversations on it tend to involve intelligent, well-informed individuals on both sides of all issues.  And I have no intention of turning this entry into a debate, pro or con, on gun control.  But a man called from rural Virginia and made a good point, saying that he lives 25 miles from the nearest police station and therefore has always kept a gun handy to protect himself and his family in the absence of civic authorities.

Fair enough, but he topped it off by claiming that "Jesse James got off eleven shots before he was killed" as a reason for having high-capacity bullet magazines at the ready should an invasion occur.  It all sounded good, except....

Within a few minutes, Susan Page, who was sitting in for Diane that day, reported that a flood of phone calls and emails had been coming in to WAMU, home base of the Rehm show.  Susan read a sampling of them, and almost every one of the respondents correctly advised that Jesse James, noted robber of the 19th Century, was shot by one single bullet to the back of his head as he had turned around to dust off a picture on the wall. The shooter was one of his gang, Robert Ford, who, along with his brother Charley was later indicted for murder, sentenced to hanging and pardoned by the governor of Missouri - all in a single day.

The only off-base person chiming in on the conversation was a guy from San Diego, who claimed that at a Confederate Soldier reunion in 1926, Jesse James was in attendance.  He went on, averring that facial recognition technology employed on a photo of the doddering old Rebels proves he was there, even though the robber's body was IDed as he lay mortally wounded.  Jesse had an incomplete middle finger on one hand, owing to a gun accident, and there seemed no question as to just who was placed in the grave marked with his name.

The San Diegan also said that there is only one picture extant of Jesse. Well, here are two.  There is only picture of Billy the Kid, however.  And, oddly enough, only one of Johnny Depp, too!

The only pic of Johnny the Kid

The only pic of Billy the Kid
And the whole incident proves to me that no matter how the facts are presented, there will always be someone out there with an embellished version of the facts and someone else with a screwy conspiracy theory.

It takes all kinds to run around the village being wrong about things!

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