A reader has just sent me to a link on a collectors' blog where an American tourist tells the story of how he stole a coin from an archaeological park in Lucania, southern Italy, and then writes a 4000 word essay trying to justify himself to fellow collectors. He enthuses, almost wetting himself in excitement:
"I at last held a man-made object whose direct line of ownership passed from one anonymous Roman to me with no intermediaries howsoever temporary".No, no ownership passes to you through theft, and the laws of the country where you were a guest are perfectly clear. But that is exactly how these people think, "the wops will not be able to look after it like me, it's just one coin, they'll not miss it, hey I am American" etc. This is the one that says "illicit is not necessarily immoral". Oh by the way he found that "object" next to a man-made surface equally old, which he'd been walking on. You see, it's not the same for these collectors "reconnecting (sic) with the past" and stealing a bit of it to have.
Note the comments by the amoral sycophantic coinheads below the text.
Vignette: the artefact-pocketing visitor may look something like this. Behind them is the only type of historic site it is safe to let people like this on, though they may then start picking the wild flowers too.