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The use of the word "patsy"


Guest Mark Valenti
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Guest Mark Valenti

Just wondering how common the usage was prior to LHO's utterance. I had thought at first that Jerry Lewis' movie "The Patsy" had triggered a widespread use, but that movie only started production five weeks after the assassination.

Before LHO used it to describe himself, I wonder if the word appeared in one of the many books he allegedly borrowed from the library. I watched a few episodes of "I Led Three Lives" and it would seem to be a perfect place to catch someone using it, but it wasn't in any of the shows I saw.

Are there any cunning linguists out there who may have an opinion?

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It's possible that Oswald was told that he was going to be the patsy. He may have never heard the word before but was told what it meant. They may have told him that the assassination was going to be blamed on Castro (which was in fact the intent) and that he, Oswald, would be exonerated. He would then be famous and could write a book or have a movie made about him. And Marina would be proud of him. They said, "Don't worry, we're going to take care of you."

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patsy (n.) dictionary.gif "fall guy, victim of a deception," 1903, of uncertain origin, possibly an alteration of Italian pazzo "madman" (see patch (n.2)), or south Italian dialectal paccio "fool." Another theory traces it to Patsy Bolivar, character created by Billy B. Van in an 1890s vaudeville skit who was blamed whenever anything went wrong.

"Poor Rogers," Vincent said, still smiling, "he is always the 'Patsy Bolivar' of the school."

"Yes," Frank answered, "if there are any mistakes to be made or trouble to fall into, Rogers seems to be always the victim." ["Anthony Yorke," "A College Boy," 1899]

Not to get off the topic but a side note, somewhere in the Warren Commission supporting FBI, CIA, SS....is a person named "Norman Neocon." One could ask the same question about that words etymology as well.......

Edited by Robert Howard
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I'm pretty sure I heard the word "patsy" in some old gangster-type movies of the Edward G. Robinson-style...and those were made long before 1963.

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I have long maintained that there are at least two possible meanings Oswald may have meant in using that word.

The obvious one is that "I have been set-up in advance by persons involved in the assassination."

The second one is that "I have been set-up by local authorities as the scapegoat, a convenient leftist radical to pin the crime on."

There are some differences between these two meanings and their implications. You're right that it would be useful to know the commonly-accepted meaning of that word in 1963.

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I have long maintained that there are at least two possible meanings Oswald may have meant in using that word.

The obvious one is that "I have been set-up in advance by persons involved in the assassination."

The second one is that "I have been set-up by local authorities as the scapegoat, a convenient leftist radical to pin the crime on."

Both statements may well be true, but I don't think LHO was sending a covert message to the world of an assassination conspiracy. It is possible of course, but IMO the second version fits Ozzie's MO much better.

Tom

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Tom Neal wrote:

"...I don't think LHO was sending a covert message to the world of an assassination conspiracy. It is possible of course..."

Tom, I disagree with the first part of your quote above, and agree with the second. I'm putting my take on the Oswald declaration, "I'M JUST A PATSY", on "The Oswald Code" thread so as not to clutter and divert this thread.

Tom

Edited by Tom Hume
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I searched google books for pages with the combination of "patsy" and "framed", and "patsy" and "innocent" and found dozens of pre-assassination references...but they were all to books with a character named Patsy. Hmmm...

I, too, feel certain I've seen an old Eddie G or Hitchcock movie in which someone claims he was a "patsy". But don't know how to search for that.

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I also think the self-limiting qualifier is interesting: "I'm just a patsy."

Is that anything similar to the line from the song, "I'm just a gigolo...."? :)

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I also think the self-limiting qualifier is interesting: "I'm just a patsy."

One possible way of hearing it is: I am no more than a patsy."

It's reasonable to assume that all Oswald knew was that he was innocent, and he put two plus two together that since he had been to Russia, and since he was a self-avowed "Marxist" connected to the "FPCC", he must have been set up in advance or framed after the fact, but he didn't know with certainty which.

--Tommy :sun

Edited by Thomas Graves
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