Friday, 16 November 2012

Focus on Metal Detecting: Effets Pervers de la législation

Being a metal detectorist in France is no fun, first you are called law-breakers (Ummmm...) and then fools. Coiney Michel Prieur had a:
Longue discussion sur internet ce matin avec un journaliste américain qui nous prend pour des fous... 
You see, this American journalist collects 'Celtic' coins (allegedly a "saine occupation"), which he mostly buys in  in England and France.  Anyhow this collector counts as a 'serious' one for M. Prieurs because he has discovered (how?) that he has a catalogue of his collection:
"il note systématiquement toutes les informations concernant les monnaies de sa collection, les photographie et en tient un registre informatisé [...] Quand il achète, il demande systématiquement le lieu de trouvaille, quand il est connu, que ce soit à particulier ou à professionnel et il l'enregistre dans le catalogue de sa collection. En Angleterre, non seulement sa question n'a rien d'incongru mais elle est même bien venue". 
If he bought only coins found by responsible finders recorded on the PAS database, he'd not have to "ask", would he? But why he thinks the French are perverse fools is when he asks a French seller (finder?) where the coin he is interested is actually from:
il a découvert qu'en France sa question sur le lieu de découverte était non seulement mal venue mais carrément jugée suspecte [...], il leur est bien entendu impossible de communiquer publiquement cette information puisque cela ferait d'eux des pilleurs de sites et donnerait aux autorités la preuve nécessaire pour les faire condamner! 
And the reaction of the American coin-collecting journalist? We are not told if he goes ahead and buys the coin which the seller has just admitted is of illicit origins. It would appear that he is not a bit bothered about the looting of a site to produce the collectables he wants to buy, he's bothered about his catalogue, his own ability to present what he is doing (here potentially buying illegally produced objects) as in some way "science":
Et c'est en cela que mon collègue nous trouve complètement fous : non seulement la loi ne protège, dans la pratique, rien du tout, mais en plus son effet pervers est de rendre impossible la diffusion de la seule chose qui compte vraiment à long terme, l'information scientifique...
So the French detectorist has an idea how to help foreign buyers not get depressed looking at their ill-gotten gains. See the post below.

Somehow it seems to me a whole issue has been skipped over. the laws are "perverse' because they define looting and plundering the finite and fragile archaeological resource as a criminal act, but is not the deliberate destruction of selected areas of the archaeological record (sites and assemblages) and obliteration of ALL the information (not just where this is happening) anything they would see as in any way a bit wrong? Or is anything that gets in the way of their own selfish desires, needs and financial interests for them personally by definition wrong ?  Are laws protecting whales from slaughter "perverse" in the eyes of whale slaughterers because they restrict the "right" of these "small businesses" to do just what they want? So M. Prieu wants the laws to be liberalised in France to allow plundering to take place legally and then the remains can come onto the market legally and we can all know where the looters have destroyed some sites. Whoopee. That seems like a really good example of perverted coiney logic there, showing the affliction is not just restricted to the English-speaking world...

Anyway, Michel Prieur should not worry about what Americans think.   

Michel Prieur, 'Effets pervers de la législation française', numismatique, Informations Numismatiques 15th Nov 2012.

Vignette: Michel Prieur  (France 5).

No comments:

Creative Commons License
Ten utwór jest dostępny na licencji Creative Commons Uznanie autorstwa-Bez utworów zależnych 3.0 Unported.