A Victim, Hero or a Criminal?

A victim, hero or a criminal? Good Afternoon fellow students and Mrs. Nielsen. The topic that we will be debating this afternoon is: Ben Hall was a decent, innocent young man who suffered continual harassment by the police for no reason at all. He was driven into crime by the harshness of the authorities. Therefore making him an outlaw hero. A hero is defined as a person who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal.

Today I will be talking about Ben hall’s life and what makes him a hero. Ben Hall is different from the other bushrangers. One of the victims of the holdup described him as “a quiet, good-looking young fellow, rather tall, frank-looking face. ” He was not a heartless, cruel, malicious person who is involved in or devoted to wickedness. (Bradley:2007). Ben Hall was praised by everyone in the district as a fine, hard-working, dedicated and honest stockman. He was known variously as ‘Bold Ben Hall’, ‘Gentleman Bushranger’ for his avoidance of bloodshed and daring raids, many on which were planned to ridicule the police.

Ben Hall was quoted saying ‘I’m not a criminal. I’ve been driven to this life, I was held for a month in gaol, an innocent man. Mr Norton, it’s your mob that have driven me to it”. The bitterness of losing his wife and son to an ex policeman who called himself Ben’s mate, being jailed for nothing, his house burnt down by an arsonist his cattle stolen didn’t make him like the law very much. This made him very bitter and he gradually drifted into a life of crime, from a successful grazer to an infamous bushranger. Hall would never harm a woman.

If a woman screamed during a robbery he often stopped and left rather than force her to be quiet There were plenty of sympathisers who offered them safe hiding places, this shows that they respected and appreciated what Ben Hall did for them. He would never rob a poor man and always left his victims with travelling money unlike some other bushrangers. He never attempted or threatened to kill the people he robbed or the police who hunted him. Even though he could have taken revenge on the police, he never did, even up to the day he died.

These are some reasons why Ben Hall was a hero because he stood up for the rights of the people and was a kind caring young fellow. Rebuttal I disagree with Annabel saying that Ben Hall was a selfish, greedy man who only wanted more money. Ben Hall was a poor man’s hero because he stole from the rich and gave to the poor. He was seen as a ‘Robin Hood’ figure to the people who would steal from the rich and redistribute the money to his supporters, family, friends and the poor. The gang angered and frightened the rich people.

The poor settlers laughed and cheered. As a majority of the population could relate to this, Ben was elevated to hero status. He did hold up the townspeople in the Robinson Hotel for 3 days but treated the people well. He always treated them with drinks, meals, music and a party like atmosphere. Hall humiliated the only policeman of the town by making him march up and down along the Hotel’s veranda. Once the party was over they gave the townspeople expense money and left without taking any money with them.

This was to show their honesty and respect to the people and to make public the gang’s power and to ridicule the police. The holdup was not to frighten or harm the townsfolk but to demonstrate his hatred to the police, which the hostages agreed with. This shows that he was a warm hearted young man and As you can see Ben Hall was a hero. He is looked upon in a heroic way for fighting the justice system and showing courage, strength and ability to resist laws through making his own lifestyle, with separate beliefs, attitudes and values.

He was a friend of the poor, kind to women and children, and an enemy of the rich. He was forced into crime by the harsh harassments of the authorities. He said to have died bravely against the more powerful forces of the law. He has grown to be an admired infamous figure for the way he stood up to authority and his larrikin ways. Ben Hall may have gave Australia more than they stole. (Baldwin:2005) He was a clever larrikin, a man of imagination and courage. In the end, Ben Hall may have given Australia, more than they ever stole.