Thursday 3 May 2012

Free Speech and the Deep-Seeking Artefact Hunters

US metal detectorist Dick Stout ('Always on the prowl') issues a challenge. He made a post on his blog about the Bulgarian-made Blisstool depth advantage metal detector. He says that his mention there of "digging deeper in "parks"..." had the effect of "br[inging] the anti-detecting establishment out of their holes" (sic). Apparently one of them sent a comment to his blog:
Shortly after the Blisstool post I received a comment, that if I had allowed it to be shown, would have taken the reader to their website, and months and months of bullshit about how detectorists are destroying the world....[...]   To the individual who sent the comment; if you wish to reply, do so, but make it short, to the point, and most certainly not a link to your website. Then perhaps we can have a dialogue, or does the thought of that scare you?
I doubt whether the prospect of discussing whether the removal of deeper targets when "relic hunting" is more damaging to the historical resource they come from particularly scary. I'd say promoting the view that it is not is the scarier prospect, and I hope somebody takes up Mr Stout's proposal. For the record (despite undeniably being the owner of a web-resource which I am sure any metal detecting artefact hunter would like to be able to convince themselves is nothing but "months and months of bull...."), I sent nothing to Mr Stout on 3rd May. Had I done so, I certainly would have taken up the gauntlet.

Now why would it be that this metal detectorist, (who says he is) eager for "dialogue" objects so much to the other side giving a reference to a place where they are putting forward their current point of view in more detail? If the website is indeed "bull", then what is the problem of its author being allowed to show what they think? To hold it up for scrutiny?  What kind of an invitation to "dialogue" is it when one side tells the other from the outset what he or she will, and will not, be allowed to say about what they think? What kind of dialogue is it where one side will no doubt evoke the right to "free speech" but deny it to anyone who may wish to challenge his own views?

Mr Stout collects dugup coins

Comments are always welcome here on the Portable Antiquities Collecting and Heritage Issues blog from both sides of the argument(s) on portable antiquity collecting. By all means, especially if it helps to keep your argument short and to the point, include links to your blogs and websites - let us see them. If in doubt about what I consider acceptable comment on my blog, please see here for more details

UPDATE 4.05./2012 
Colleague Nigel Swift assures me that it was not he who contacted Mr Stout earlier and I am very curious indeed about the identity of a person who has "a website [with] months and months of bullshit about how detectorists are destroying the world...". Though Mr Stout would like to prevent that, I'd like to see it. If that person is reading this, in the spirit of "free speech", I invite them to send here the comment (complete with link) which Mr Stout suppressed. Metal detecting may not be "destroying the world", but certainly is substantially damaging the archaeological record in many countries of the world, and that is something that needs discussing, and a resolution found which does not involve antagonistic detectorists going "bare knuckle" against preservationists to force them to "back away" as another post hosted on Dick Stout's blog recommends.

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