Tuesday, 14 July 2009

ACCG attacks Ethical Collecting Blogger

Yesterday I made a post about a comment posted on Robyn’s “Pieces of the Past” blog (if you’ve not visited the blog, please do) and today I wake up to find two comments by the Executive Director and the former president of the ACCG have been added to it. While the former restricted himself to his customary abusive manner of response, the latter made a number of comments which are worthy of highlighting.

Here Tompa confronts the blog owner in the same aggressive manner that he reserves for all that dare to ask questions of the ACCG. He writes:

I am curious why your blog is anonymous. Please identify yourself and any relationships you may have with members of the archaeological community. There is some speculation that you are merely Mr. Barford or some other member of the
archaeological community posing as an "ethical collector," presumably as a point of contrast to the supposedly "unethical collectors" that support the ACCG. Hopefully, not.
Yeah right. Help the coineys stop their conspiracy-theory speculation by identifying yourself to Mr Tompa, declare the source of the income supporting your blogging and collecting and what affiliations you have to foreign governments. Are you now or have you ever shaken hands with Nicholas Burns? We’ve heard it all before.

Let me just go on record here as saying that for better or worse I write here under my own name and I am not “Robyn”.

How odd that Mr Tompa should think that there would be NO ethical collectors willing to write anything about the ethics of collecting, surely the whole point behind ACCG lobbying is that they want to convince the public and lawmakers that most US collectors are indeed ethical, and intimations to the contrary are hateful propaganda by people like me. Please get your side's story straight Mr Tompa.

Tompa accuses his correspondent of ignorance. He saysI suggest you review the requirements of the CPIA rather than relying on Barford et al. for legal analysis”. Absolutely. But then in my posts on this blog (for instance, among others, here, here, here, here, and here) I have more than enough times given reference to the CPIA and the exact paragraphs to which I am referring, enough to enable the reasonably intelligent reader to check whether what I have been saying has any basis in fact. We will note that nowhere, neither here (in comments to this blog), nor on their blogs or on the ACCG website do Tompa or Sayles or any others ACCG Merry Men give any indication to their readers where and how what “Barford et al.” have written about the actual contents of the CPIA is a misinterpretation. I suggest we take that silence as significant.

Mr Tompa admits that it is true however what I say when I assert that to legally import items on the designated list, “they must be accompanied either by an export certificate or proof the item was out of the country as of the date of the restrictions”. That is exactly what I have been saying since the coin stunt (well, actually as I pointed out earlier here, if you look at the dealer friendly CPIA, it is not even “proof” that is required, but merely a vague assurance). The ACCG had ninety days to provide the latter, and as I pointed out yesterday failed to do so. In which case if this documentation cannot be provided, the ACCG bought items which cannot legally and thus (by their own code of ethics at least) ethically be brought into the USA.

Mr Tompa tries to throw Robyn off the scent by declaring:
Without getting bogged down too much in detail, as to the ACCG coin importation, all the coins were properly declared to US Customs
Well, actually it is the detail we non-coineys are most interested in Mr Tompa. The use of the term “properly” is somewhat disingenuous here. Properly declaring imported goods which are among those restricted by US law would be with the presentation of the documents required by law. Documents which in this case the importer deliberately left out, because as “[i]t was made clear to Customs that ACCG wishes to test their regulations in Court”. This is not declaring restricted goods properly but provocatively improperly.

Tompa is proudly candid about the origins of these coins, he admits that the “ACCG has no idea where or when they may have been found”. But they were selected as a test case as representative of what ACCG dealers would still sell them to their customers. That surely is the point that I have been making all along about the no-questions-asked market and its relationship to the flow of looted artifacts onto the market. Which brings us onto the next point.

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