Dallas' Quest to Keep the 50th Anniversary of JFK's Death "Classy" Will Fail, and Fail Hard

Let's be clear about this. Old, rich keep-a-lid-on-it Dallas is not going to rule next year's 50th anniversary observations of the Kennedy killing in Dealey Plaza. No matter what it takes.

The official City of Dallas JFK Assassination 50th Anniversary Celebration Committee, named in a story this morning in the official government newspaper, will be made up almost entirely of rich, fancy-pantsy, old people determined to keep a lid on it.

The Morning News quotes Mayor Mike Rawlings:

"The objective is to send the simple message to all that are outside the city, throughout the world, that the citizens of Dallas honor the life and legacy of JFK," Rawlings said. "Tone is very important: serious, respectful, understated. We want it to be very classy. We want to ensure there is zero commercialization of this event."

Whose objective? What message? Who died and made you Elvis?

Commercialization? You mean they're going to shut down the official JFK assassination coffee shop across the street from Dealey Plaza where my brother visiting from San Francisco almost blew lunch when he looked up from his cappuccino and saw the Zapruder film playing on the wall in an endless loop? Don't think so. Makin' too much money on that sucker.

You mean they're going to shut down the big gift shop on the first floor of the Book Depository Building where you can buy coffee table books about Jackie Kennedy's clothes? Oh, no, no, no.

That's all part of the official commercialization reflecting the official version of things as expressed by the Sixth Floor Assassination Museum. That version is: "Dallas didn't do it. Let's talk about Jackie's clothes, instead."

That's classy?

I can tell you exactly what the "commercialization" reference is. Robert Groden. They want to shut down Groden's book and video sales in Dealey Plaza.

Groden is an assassination conspiracy theorist. Some of the stuff he sells is gross. But he's also a best-selling author and serious person. And, by the way, the Kennedy assassination was gross. Very gross.

Dallas has already tossed Groden in jail and ticketed him many many times, all of which has been thrown out by local judges as clearly illegal. I would argue that tossing an author in jail because you don't like what he has to say is gross. Very gross.

Accompanying Scott Parks' story about the City of Dallas Assassination Celebration Committee is a long list of members, almost all of whom are usual-suspect aging money-bags. Who in the hell thought that this kind of important and very controversial moment in history should be put into the control of aging money-bags?

I can tell you who. The aging money-bags. There isn't a doubt I my mind that this gang -- the same people who have tried to keep a lid on this story in Dallas from the day it happened -- pushed themselves on the mayor and insisted they be given carte blanche to control the 50th next year.

Well, guess what. This day doesn't belong to them. Dealey Plaza doesn't belong to them. Decisions about commercialization or tone or being "classy" don't belong to them.

The 50th belongs to history and to free speech. In America, history and speech cannot be controlled by money-bags. That point will be made powerfully and very, very visibly at Dealey Plaza on Nov. 22, 2013.

I have been corresponding with an informal steering committee of people determined to keep Dealey Plaza free on the 50th. They will converge here from all over the world on that day. I believe these people will meet every effort at control and censorship, measure for measure, with the appropriate resistance. Every cop, taser, fire hose or paddy wagon sent to Dealey Plaza on that day to keep a lid on things will be taken as a challenge and an invitation.

There's a way to do this. Get the money-bags committee way, way the hell out of the way. Back the hell off. You do your thing. Other people will do theirs. Let it flow. Leave it free. Otherwise, we can change the name of Dealey Plaza to the OK Corral.

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Jim Schutze has been the city columnist for the Dallas Observer since 1998. He has been a recipient of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ national award for best commentary and Lincoln University’s national Unity Award for writing on civil rights and racial issues. In 2011 he was admitted to the Texas Institute of Letters.
Contact: Jim Schutze