Wednesday 26 January 2011

The Truth, the Whole Truth....

Peter Tompa provides dullard dugup coin collectors who can't read the black-and-white for themselves a guide (What is the Impact of Import Restrictions on "Coins of Italian Type?") obviously intended to be taken as "what you should know about the CCPIA regulations". Well, not quite everything. As we know, ACCG alarmist propaganda (in the creation of which Tompa himself has played such a large part) has been trying to convince people that the scope of the measures are much broader than they really are ("all coins struck in the Roman Empire, wherever they are found will be considered Italian cultural property", "this is an attack by the Obama administration on the collectors of coins of any type anywhere"). One might think Tompa's latest post would be an attempt to restore a little responsibility to this discussion. Sadly not even now are these people willing to take a deep breath and stop their nonsenses. Tompa tells his readers:
"Under the CPIA, import restrictions only apply to coins “first found in the ground” in Italy. See CPIA § 302 (2). However, if a coin of Italian type was excavated outside of Italy ..." bla bla
Tompa is apparently counting here on all his readers being sufficiently gullible not to check what the law of their own country is. After all, if a lawyer says it, "it must be true", eh? ("How do you know when a lawyer is lying...?" know that one?). What anyone who actually checks will find is that CCPIA § 302 (2) actually says:
For purposes of this title [...] (2) The term "archaeological or ethnological material of the State Party" means [...] any object referred to in subparagraph (A) or (B); which was first discovered within, and is subject to export control by, the State Party.
The deliberate omission of the end of that sentence obscures the fact that the CCPIA does not apply to artefacts which are not covered by the export laws of the state party concerned - ie with which the USA has entered a bilateral cultural property agreement. A coin of Italian type dug up in Romania or Bulgaria and exported to the US is subject to the export laws of Romania or Bulgaria and not Italy. In other words, even if clandestinely illegally excavated from an ancient site with dynamite and bulldozers and exported by the vilest of drug and white slave peddling mafia, the artefact will nevertheless pass on its way to sale in the US, unhindered by the barrier of bubbles that is the customs border of 1970-UNESCO-Convention-Party USA. This is merely because it is not covered by an MOU agreed on the basis of the CCPIA. Because of the existence of the 1983 Ronald Regan epoch CCPIA, the USA does not officially recognise that Bulgaria and Romania have a problem with the illegal export of cultural property. The problem does not exist. US hypocrisy imagines that the world will believe that the country now with one of the world's largest markets for potentially looted and smuggled dugup artefacts actually has an International Cultural Property Protection Program. That's a laugh. Even the pathetically inadequate legal measures they have can barely be enforced because cowboy dugup antiquity dealers and their supporters are kicking against them and loudly refuse to even make a pretence of behaving responsibly and agreeing to respect the existence of and abide by the laws. Surely it is time for America to assert some of that moral leadership it is always banging on about.

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