Thursday 15 May 2014

CCPIA: Who Needs the Education?

Arthur Houghton III: "unable to raise
himself from the nasty muck in 

he spends so much of his time"
To judge from the latest post on the CPO blog, Peter Tompa, Wayne G. Sayles, and the distinguished Arthur Houghton III all seem miffed that I have a point of view other than theirs and argue it. They discuss at some length what I wrote to the CPAC yesterday. Their usual 'intellectual'  level,  Tompa's pleaxed that he found a typing error, Sayles calls what I wrote "ranting" (in contrast to what the eleven-year old coineys wrote we understand), and Houghton, descending to his usual level of personal attack, accuses me of dwelling in "muck". The problem for these three seems to be that they suspect that there are others who think the same as me about their antics and posturing, and they wish they would not.

I was puzzled yesterday by one comment to the CPAC. The ACCG has  chairman, does it not? Why not read what he wrote to the CPAC, and consider whether its tone suggests that even people close to the ACCG principal ranters are distancing themselves from their embarrassing excesses and crude manipulation. Three members of the ACCG board of directors did not submit any comments at all on their own behalf.

The attention of Mr Tompa was drawn to the bit of my reply where I suggest the CPAC should recommend (on the basis of Article 10 of the 1970 UNESCO Convention) that, if there is to be a proper public debate about the heritage in the USA, something is done about outreaching to collectors (and cognitively-challenged parroting coin collectors in particular) on the reasons behind  cultural heritage policies and the way they are put into operation. Tompa seems to be reading something into my text which is not there
wish that "coineys" get a State Department financed "education" from their archaeological "betters."  
There is of course no mention at all of archaeologists as teachers in my text. I rather think their comments to the CPAC indicate that very many of them need somebody to explain in very simple words  (maybe aided by some kind of role play games or flow charts or something for the slow-on-the-uptake) what the LAW of the USA actually says. Not what the ACCG and its misleading cheerleaders want them to believe, but what it says. I'd say for that task lawyers with teaching experience would be the best instructors. I also think those of them who think that the "coins travelled widely" excuse works for Ptolemaic issues of Egypt (so that's about 68% of yesterday's commentators), need some proper numismatic instruction. Like from proper numismatists, not hobbyist collectors who have not got a clue.

In a little room in the third floor sub-basement somewhere at the back of the Department of State building a good-looking young intern is sorting out the public comments from Docket  DOS-2014-0008
. She has two folders. One has a rich purple cover embossed with the DoS emblem in gold and is labelled  "Docket  DOS-2014-0008 19 USC 2602 comments (for CPAC)" the other has thin grey cadrboard covers and is labelled "Docket  DOS-2014-0008: Junk mail (Archive only)". The one contains well-argued statements about the four/five points the public ARE asked to comment on, and is populated mainly by the opinions of archaeologists and conservationists who can read what the public notice said for themselves and compose their own replies and write from their own observations and knowledge. The other is stuffed with over 250 brief exhortations, demands, pleas, and general abusive waffle from unthinking coin collectors knee-jerk reacting to what the dealers tell them about CCPIA, and working from a crib-sheet. It's like the student who does not read the question and whose essay is completely off-topic. It does not get read. 

The CPAC cannot, and will not, take the off-topic comments into account. The collectors, and their lobbyists, slimily insisting State Department adherence to the letter of the law (and their rash, badly-worded and ill-mannered accusations that the Department is not) themselves reveal that they have not the slightest idea of what the law prescribes as the scope of their own comments and not the slightest intention of keeping to it. 

If they are to take part, and be heard, in any public debate on the heritage and how we should be treating it in this day and age, then collectors, and coin collectors in particular, need to educate themselves to bring them up to the same level as those who take part on the other side, the opinions and comments in the purple folder which the CPAC will be receiving soon.  

The Houghtons, Tompas and Sayleses of the coiney world can complain all they want about how they are victimised, misunderstood, ignored and reviled by all, but the way to take part in a discussion is to inform themselves about what the discussion is about, not continually return to the tactic of bringing things down to personal attacks and one-liners. That will get them and the coin collecting they claim to represent, nowhere at all.  

But then, how representative are these naysayers? The ACCG claims there are 50000 ancient coin collectors in the USA alone, but only < 290 took part in the campaign to oppose an MOU on antiquity smuggling. But 49700 refused to, maybe they are the educated ones.

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