Dealey Plaza Redo: Beware the Goon Squads

Categories: Get Off My Lawn

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Yesterday's city council committee briefing on restoring Dealey Plaza was all very well. The well-intended and the well-heeled have joined together to raise money for a well-designed refurbishing of the place where President John F. Kennedy was ... well, you know ... shot.

I'm sure it will be well done. But here we go again. Dallas has a well-known tendency to use taste and discretion as excuses for knee-capping anybody who colors outside the lines, especially on painfully sensitive topics, of which there is none more so for Dallas than JFK.

I wrote about this in April. The city has gotten itself into hot water in the past by strong-arming Kennedy conspiracy theorist and author Robert Groden, who expresses his point of view and sells books and DVDs at Dealey Plaza. City Hall's version of good taste was throwing Groden in jail in June of last year on trumped-up charges that later were tossed out of court.

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Katie Dees, via.
City Hall's preferred view of Dealey Plaza mirrors its view of the assassination itself. It's the Warren Commission view: No conspiracy here, folks, nothing to see, show's over, please return to your homes.

But Groden's view, the view of the 1977 House Select Committee on Assassinations, is the one that draws the tourists: lots of unanswered questions, shadows over Dallas, we've got books about it, don't go home without one.

Groden is suing the city in federal court, claiming the city violated his First Amendment rights, which is probably what you're doing about the time you jail an author for selling his book in a public place where such sales are expressly not prohibited.

We imagine the debate beforehand at the city attorney's office:

"Hey, what if there's some jackass author, and he says crap we don't like? Can we jail his ass?"

"I don't know. We got a car available?"

This just isn't a big First Amendment town.

The heavy hands of two organizations show up again and again in the city's efforts to make Dealey Plaza a really nice assassination site. One is the Sixth Floor Museum, which tells the tale the way Dallas wants it told, and the other is Downtown Dallas Inc., an outfit so square it once invented a motto for downtown Dallas, "Find Your D Spot," without realizing it was a vague reference to screwing. Both seem to be very involved in the paint-up spruce-up effort described to barely wakeful council members Monday.

Nothing wrong with painting up and sprucing up. Dealey Plaza needs it. It sounds nice. But it won't be nice if it involves taking a high-pressure power washer to Groden's face.

You know, damn! Dallas always winds up playing to its stereotype. If we use good taste and being respectful and displaying reverence for history as excuses for going after Groden, we look like goons.

Goons is not good taste. Goons is bad.


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15 comments
Debra Conway-JfkLancer
Debra Conway-JfkLancer

Really, does the city think all those people visit Dealey Plaza because they think Lee Oswald acted alone, or at all? What difference does it make if people have theories? Why does it bother them? 

Anonymous
Anonymous

 Why can't there be volunteer actors walking around Dealey Plaza dressed in 1963 outfits, interacting with tourists and talking about mundane 1963 topics as if they were stuck in time just days before the assassination? That would be pretty awesome. "Excuse me ma'am, can you direct me to the nearest soda fountain? Those Russians sure are up to no good, don't you think?"

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

Our City Attorney, Tom Perkins, makes a habit of being on the wrong side, with respect to legal issues.

Joe Mama
Joe Mama

The Calatrava Knoll will be a nice addition....

Joe Mama
Joe Mama

I am sure the Calatrava Knoll

Freda
Freda

Debra, I know you know the answer to that question but I'll give my answer anyway.  If the Sixth Floor Museum were to admit that not only did Oswald not act alone, but that there is not a single soul anywhere, alive or dead, who can even put Oswald in that window firing those shots, they'd have to eat a whole lot of crow.  There was a certain higher up there who has already admitted on Jesse Ventura's show that when he goes home at night he knows Oswald wasn't alone.  So, what could be a better conspiracy than to get rid of the folks who don't subscribe to their theory.  I've said it before - I love watching people's faces when I show them where there were at least six, possibly seven shots, fired.

balls connoisseur
balls connoisseur

We could revise the whole history of the event and make it to where there never was any assassination. 

scottindallas
scottindallas

I think the 1963 mindset is all too common here.  I'd opine that is what plagues this city.

bobbyv
bobbyv

Actually, that's not a bad idea...minus the racisim part.

JimS
JimS

Excuse me, ma'am, but this is a white park.

Heywood U Buzzoff
Heywood U Buzzoff

With a toll lane that runs straight to the convention center hotel!

Renegade
Renegade

What assassination?  Oh, you must mean the roller derby team...

EastDallas4Life
EastDallas4Life

@ Ed D. ... I'm pretty sure the New York Jets were named before 9/11. Thanks for playing, though.

Ed D.
Ed D.

Right, it's a completely insensitive name like Chicago Fire, Miami Hurricanes, or New York Jets.

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