Talk:Leo Frank

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Good articleLeo Frank has been listed as one of the History good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
On this day... Article milestones
June 14, 2004Featured article candidateNot promoted
December 12, 2014Peer reviewReviewed
May 30, 2015Good article nomineeNot listed
October 14, 2015Good article nomineeListed
December 18, 2016Featured article candidateNot promoted
On this day... Facts from this article were featured on Wikipedia's Main Page in the "On this day..." column on August 17, 2007, August 17, 2008, August 17, 2011, and August 17, 2015.
Current status: Good article

Deeply confused about the murder notes[edit]

I've read this article twice now, and there's an aspect I don't understand at all. Could someone more familiar with the case edit the article so as to clarify the following two points -- or, if modernity has no good answers, at least edit it so as to acknowledge that the historial record is confusing?

First, Osborn is said to observe "that the notes were written in the third person rather than the first person [even though] the first person would have been more logical," which he takes to implicate the uneducated Conley. But the notes as reported herein *are* written in the first person: "he said he wood love *ME* . . . *I* went to make water . . . *I* write while play with *ME*." Could someone clarify just what inconsistency Osborn perceived?

Second, is there any guess -- or even supposition -- as to why Conley wrote notes explicitly stating that a black man was guilty, when Conley himself was apparently the only black man involved in the case? Was there another, taller or slimmer black man whom he could have been trying to implicate? Or was it his goal from the outset to write incongruous accusations against a black man, which he could then pass off as Frank's clumsy attempt to implicate Newt Lee, even though Lee was white and the note specifically exculpated Lee? (If so, that's a bewilderingly roundabout scheme, but I suppose, somehow, it worked!) (talk) 23:59, 2 May 2020 (UTC)

  • The first question I'm not sure about, so I deleted that paragraph. If any other editor here knows, please chime in and add it back if it's appropriate. We could leave it off or perhaps substitute in something about Henry Alexander's analysis.
  • For the second point, I added that Lee is black after the text of the murder notes is listed, which points to a black person as the slayer. Thus, Conley is trying to frame Lee as the murderer. Tonystewart14 (talk) 06:54, 7 May 2020 (UTC)
  • There is no consensus here for the removal, so I've reverted it. Please get a consensus before you remove sourced information. Beyond My Ken (talk) 06:55, 7 May 2020 (UTC)
@Beyond My Ken: Do you know the answer to the OP's first question? Also, do you have an opinion on whether it should remain in the article, or did you just want to get consensus prior to removal? Tonystewart14 (talk) 07:02, 7 May 2020 (UTC)
The latter. Sourced information should not be removed without a consensus to do so. Beyond My Ken (talk) 07:05, 7 May 2020 (UTC)
The source doesn't offer a very good clarification. However, the notes do have aspects of a third party narrative. The phrase "but that long tall black negro did boy his slef" is written in the 3rd person as is "mam that negro hire down here did this". Osborn's point seems to be that a person in the process of being raped and killed probably wouldn't have shifted from 1st to 3rd person a couple of times when writing the two notes. Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 01:49, 8 May 2020 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 9 May 2020[edit]

'Today, the consensus of researchers on the subject holds that Frank was wrongly convicted and Jim Conley was likely the real murderer.'


Not done. I can tell by your use of all capital letters that you MUST BE SERIOUS. However, the lead of an article aims to summarize the rest of the article, so if you think this statement doesn't accurately reflect the body, you should explain why, or you should point out any issues with the information in the article it's summarizing first. In either case, this is a pretty well-sourced article and has been through the good article review process, so I'd say you'd likely want to discuss the matter with other editors first before making a request like this. –Deacon Vorbis (carbon • videos) 15:00, 9 May 2020 (UTC)
There is probably no "consensus" among researchers, but rather a stated opinion by several historians of varying degrees of merit (some of whom are quick to state that there is "consensus"). The current article downplays the fact that Frank was convicted (and remains convicted) of the crime. He received a pardon based on the state's inability to properly protect him, but he was not found innocent of the crime. There is speculation as to guilt, and who else may have committed (or been involved with) the crime. It is fine to add that to article, it is of interest, but it should not receive the significant weight it is presently accorded in this article. It is speculation, and opinion. The facts, on the other hand, are that Frank was convicted, and that the conviction was upheld on appeal. When one goes to some length to quote the minority opinion of the Supreme Court (while glossing over the majority which upheld the conviction), it can be viewed as a way that current editors insert their POV into the article. Gulbenk (talk) 15:18, 9 May 2020 (UTC)
As you very well know, this issue has been discussed to death on this page and there is a long standing consensus of wikipedia editors that the existing language is appropriate and accurate. Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 18:33, 9 May 2020 (UTC)
I concur. Beyond My Ken (talk) 19:18, 9 May 2020 (UTC)
Please reply with a list of references supporting Jim Conley as the killer?ConnieBland (talk) 03:26, 8 June 2020 (UTC)
@ConnieBland: One example is in the Preface to Revised Edition of Dinnerstein's book where he says "I have no doubts: Frank was innocent." Another is in the last page of Oney's book where he refers to the present time as "an era when Frank's innocence is taken as a foregone conclusion". Tonystewart14 (talk) 03:42, 10 June 2020 (UTC)
Not to mention Lindemann and Woodward in note 8. Tonystewart14 (talk) 00:38, 11 June 2020 (UTC)

T. Do they speak Jim Conley did it? Steve sound like he speaking they take it for granted.ConnieBland (talk) 23:03, 6 July 2020 (UTC)

Media coverage sections[edit]

I am considering merging the Media coverage subsection and Antisemitism and media coverage section into the same section, and having two subsections named something like "Aftermath of murder" and "Sensationalism and biases". That way, it will be consolidated into one section and flow better. The "Sensationalism and biases" title will encapsulate the main idea of the text better, as it covers more than just antisemitism. We could also consider moving the Watson photo to this section, since he has a paragraph about him in the current Antisemitism and media coverage section but isn't mentioned in Appeals, where his image currently is. Please let me know your thoughts as I'd like to generate a consensus before making such a big change. Tonystewart14 (talk) 21:59, 19 May 2020 (UTC)

Frank's married life sentence[edit]

I am considering removing the line "Frank described his married life as happy." from the Early life section as this seems irrelevant (albeit nice that it was the case), and I remember it being mentioned during the FAC. Please comment if you support or object since this is sourced and I want to have a talk page consensus. Tonystewart14 (talk) 21:02, 5 June 2020 (UTC)

It's sourced, so I'd keep it. Why is it any more irrelevant then the town he was born in or the names of his parents? Beyond My Ken (talk) 04:41, 10 June 2020 (UTC)
What if we had a source stating that Frank was kind to dogs. Should we add that as well? The sentence in question is irrelevant. Think it should be removed.Gulbenk (talk) 15:00, 10 June 2020 (UTC)
Frank's happy married life to Lucile is evidence the 19 factory girls at his fixed kangaroo courtroom trial were lying about him chasing after them with money and being lascivious on them. Keep the quote and source it.ConnieBland (talk) 16:43, 10 June 2020 (UTC)
ConnieBland what planet do you live on? Evidence that 19 factory girls were lying, because Frank said something about himself to bolster his case? Even if it were true, and we don't know that simply based on his own assertion, it would still be irrelevant because there are a number of killers who were devoted family men who had happy married lives. Richard Kuklinski and Robert Bruce (who's wife told her story to numerous publications) are but a few examples. Gulbenk (talk) 17:48, 10 June 2020 (UTC)

For BMK's comment, birth location and parents' names are common for biographies, but not so for satisfaction with their marriage. Tonystewart14 (talk) 00:46, 11 June 2020 (UTC)

Actually it's not unusual although more often seen in the negative than the positive. Beyond My Ken (talk) 02:08, 11 June 2020 (UTC)
Perhaps, but if it's negative, something probably happened that made it relevant. Tonystewart14 (talk) 03:55, 11 June 2020 (UTC)
And it seems from the article that the status of Frank's marriage was considered to be of relevance.
Gulbenk, the quote provides equity to the text. 19 factory girls at the trial were making unfounded testimony on defendant Frank saying he was a bad charater for lascivious behavior (pedophilia). Keep quotes and provide a source. ConnieBland (talk) 20:03, 2 July 2020 (UTC)

Calling Frank an oppressor is a symptom of deeper problems in this article[edit]

@Gulbenk:In "Conviction and sentencing," Lindemann calls Frank an "inaccessible oppressor." This is a modern writer's interpretation of what was in the collective mind of the crowd outside City Hall 90 years ago. This is not a matter of fact but of speculation and generalization, in which the author compares the Frank affair to an event in Russia where a jury found someone innocent. So Russia = Georgia, Finding Frank guilty = finding Beilis innocent? Tsarist Ministers = The superintendent of an American pencil factory? This is such a tenuous analogy all in service of using the word "oppressor" when talking about a man who was lynched. How is this NPOV? and how does this add any value to the article? Quote: "Albert Lindemann suggests "the powerless experienced a moment of exhilaration in seeing the defeat and humiliation of a normally powerful and inaccessible oppressor."[1]" There are multiple instances of this type of lack of NPOV in the article. I will be addressing more of them soon. DolyaIskrina (talk) 06:49, 6 July 2020 (UTC)

@DolyaIskrina: I could not agree with you less. Lindemann's entire work, "The Jew Accused" is a comparison of three high profile cases in which Jews were charged with crimes in the years prior to WW I. So yes, he is going to compare and contrast the Beilis and Frank cases. Sorry that you missed that point. Lindemann painstakingly dissects the Frank case, with a balanced and intensely researched understanding of the principals in that tragedy. Your NPOV comment regarding Lindemann could not be more wrong. Your remark that no value is found in this information, in the analysis of public sentiment at the time of these events, goes right to the core of your lack of insight. It is rather like saying that, 200 years after the fact, how can a "modern writer's interpretation of what was in the collective mind" of the citizens in the French Revolution hold any value, or be in the least bit accurate? Right. Those peasants were mad alright, and they killed their King, but heaven knows why....and what does that matter anyway. Gulbenk (talk) 11:30, 6 July 2020 (UTC)
@Gulbenk: Let's not forget that this is not an article about Lindemann's book. Nor is this an article about accused Jews. It is an article about one man. You are correct that I lack insight and have not read Lindemann's book. In short, I am the intended audience for this page. If references to Cossacks, and calling Frank an inaccessible oppressor confuses readers like me, that is a problem with the page. Lindemann has a page that is a stub. You could improve that page and talk about his book there. Or if we could reach a consensus with other editors of this page, you might add a sub section about Lindemann's thesis. However, these quotes as they now occur fail on WP:NPOV, WP:UNDUE, and possibly WP:FRINGE. I'd be happy to work with you to improve this article. DolyaIskrina (talk) 18:32, 6 July 2020 (UTC)
@DolyaIskrina: at the risk of wasting my time, let me at least try to get this point across to you. Lindemann was speaking about the poor and powerless citizens of the South, many of whom had come off farms and such to work in hard and low paying jobs in the city, in factories owned by wealthy northern capitalists whom they considered to be exploiters and oppressors. Frank, being a northerner and wealthy by the common standard, fit that profile. It is a comment on the post-war south, highlighting issues of regionalism and (what we would call today) class warfare. He is not saying that he regards Frank as an oppressor (if that hasn't dawned on you by now) but that many of the downtrodden masses took that view. Lindemann goes to some pains to explain that it is these issues, not a latent anti-Semitism, that was so prevalent in Atlanta at the turn of the century (he goes to some length to contrast that with Europe, where anti-Semitism was deeply ingrained). And, I hate to have to point out the obvious, but being a victim does not exclude one from also being an oppressor. Going back to my French Revolution example, there are many academic texts which point out that Louis XVI was regarded as (or was) an oppressor of the peasantry and low income urban masses. Those same texts have no problem also casting Louis XVI as a victim of the Reign of Terror, in as much as he had his head cut off. Oppressor and victim are not mutually exclusive, particularly given the various viewpoints in play. The edits you have outline would degrade the article, place it's Good Article status in jeopardy, and actually promote a POV form of censorship. Gulbenk (talk) 19:22, 6 July 2020 (UTC)
Let's not argue about whether or not Lindemann's thesis is apt. Also please assume good faith on my part. I'm not interested in censorship. You have done a good job here in talk explaining why Lindemann talks about Cossacks and why he uses "oppressor." But none of that appears in the article and it is confusing and inflammatory in that context. So let's get that part of the article up to snuff. I proposed cutting it. You reverted. Do you have another solution? Perhaps, instead of a paraphrase, we put in a full block quote? DolyaIskrina (talk) 20:17, 6 July 2020 (UTC)
If you honestly don't understand the points being made in the sentences I discussed, it could be that the paragraph (or larger article) was edited to make that less than clear. Or it could be that a reader who approaches this article from a different perspective may find it confusing. I think I can help the former, but not the latter. So the first thought is that I should read the entire article, with those points in mind, to see if some additions can be made to drive home such a crucial point. I do suggest, if you are very much interested in this subject, that you find a copy of Lindemann's book, and read the Frank portion. Given your misunderstanding about some of the basic underlying issues at work in this case, it might be time and effort well spent.Gulbenk (talk) 20:28, 6 July 2020 (UTC)
Sounds good. Take another look at the article, and I'll read Lindemann. To my eye, anything that smacks of "there wasn't any pre-existing antisemitism" or "But Northern Jews kinda were upsetting things, exploiting child labor" etc., needs to be handled with great care, especially in this particular and singular case which ends in a lynching. This doesn't mean we need to censor any WP:RS that said things like that (obviously in a more nuanced way), but it's important that any such statements in this article be bracketed by overt attribution. By what criteria and by whom were such things asserted? DolyaIskrina (talk) 21:01, 6 July 2020 (UTC)
I'm not certain to what degree Lindemann covers the subject, but there was not overt anti-Semitism in the Confederacy. The Confederate Secretary of State was Jewish, and many Jewish southerners served in the Confederate military with distinction. On the other hand, there are instances of anti-Semitism in the Union. That legacy, to a great degree, was carried down to the time of Leo Frank. What made Frank different was his "otherness" which most importantly was his Northern roots and manners during a period in Atlanta history when that was still a very sore point. Also, although it doesn't factor into Frank himself but does give insight into the underlying social dynamic at play, there was a ongoing conflict in Atlanta between the assimilated Germanic Jewish community, and the newly arrived (and "rustic") Eastern European Jews. You may not like any of that, but we don't do our job if we promote revisionist history for the sake of arriving at a predetermined outcome. Gulbenk (talk) 23:18, 6 July 2020 (UTC)
All very interesting, and I think it might have a place in the article. But it actually seems to me that it would be better placed in the article on antisemitism or US Jewry or Confederacy. I am not intending to promote revisionist history, I want to make sure we are making a good article about Frank. As soon as one is discussing underlying social dynamics, one is treading on thin conceptual ice. It would be WP:SYNTH for either of us to decide on our own whether or not there was overt antisemitism prior to Frank's lynching. The presence of Jewish officials does not show the absence of antisemitism, and without a source it is WP:OR to reason thusly. We are not allowed to make inferences like that. We are supposed to present mainstream opinions in context with proper citation from good sources. Even if you yourself are an historian who could be cited, you are not allowed to use WP as a platform for your opinions. Only secondary sources are allowed. If an opinion is fringe we should either not include it or present it as fringe. DolyaIskrina (talk) 01:53, 7 July 2020 (UTC)
  1. ^ Lindemann p. 258.