Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The Heritage Debate: The Voice of Reason versus Aggressive Defenders of Vested Interests

Nigel Swift has suggested I might like to post this (below), from him, on my blog. Actually, yes I would because it says in a nutshell what the problem is.

This is prompted by observation that there has been a concerted campaign of vicious ad personam/ad hominem attacks over the past few days on the blogs of several detectorists (Dick Stout, John Howland, John Winter, Steve Taylor, Norman Kennedy) and coin collectors (lobbyist Peter Tompa/ alter ego 'Arthur Houghton', collector Jorg Leuke, together with dealers Dave Welsh and Wayne Sayles) and possible elsewhere. I think they are hoping if they sling enough mud, we too will be discouraged from discussing the issues which concern us. This has been the situation with the PAS public forum [closed by metal detectorists]. This was what happened to the Heritage Action public forum [closed by metal detectorists]. For over a decade this kind of deliberately disruptive and overtly anti-social and sometimes threatening behaviour from these people has been a constant feature of the heritage debate, hindering any real consensus or progress. All these people are doing by such tactics is once again underlining in a public manner that artefact hunters and collectors are NOT the people that this should be being discussed with. These people and their attitudes have become the problem. You do not negotiate dealing with Dutch Elm Disease with Elm Bark Beetles.

Here is Nigel's take on the situation, with which, needless to say, I fully agree.

"Paul, may I offer this for your blog?
 The level and vehemence and frequency of attacks on your character (and to a lesser extent mine) is of course astonishing but also instructive. Suggestions that we are motivated by failure, jealousy, loneliness, stupidity, malice, communism, fascism, psychological disorders, snobbery and much else are rife and aren't confined to the unthinking and uneducated or to the public arena. They are of course the non-criminal version of the physical threats we have both been subjected to and are designed to discredit what we say, not us.

Personally I can stand it – indeed if I couldn't I'd have given up many years ago – for a particular reason: in all those years I've never been abused, insulted or threatened by anyone that didn't have a vested interest in things that I say should change. I think that's true in your own case as well, whether it's collectors, dealers, suppliers, consumers or the officials and academics who have built careers on them all. I hear not a word against us from the only important people, the superior stakeholders who have a cultural interest and no other.

In addition, you'll know very well that on those occasions when the insulters attempt to address what we say about the need for change, the justifications offered for the status quo are visibly weak and don't stand up. Consequently they are often buttressed with untruths, signalling an understanding that buttresses are needed. I'm so glad I'm on “our” side, it's so much easier to stand up for what you truly believe – and indeed for what simply can't be denied: collectors ARE the real looters and an activity in Britain that involves millions of artefacts being annexed without a word SHOULD be regulated. Which of our critics doesn't know that, secretly? Almost none, in my view - how could they not - yet they oppose both propositions despite the fact that both are self-evidently in the public interest.

Looked at like that, whenever we're accused of being motivated by failure, jealousy, loneliness, stupidity, malice, communism, fascism, psychological disorders and snobbery it is not us who are being attacked but the public and the public interest

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