Saturday, October 22, 2011

No Credit to the Archaeological Community

While the comments to CPAC about the Bulgarian MOU from the archaeological community have been few, Archaeo-Blogger Paul Barford has gone into high gear in his criticism of collectors' views on the State Department's and the AIA's efforts to suppress ancient coin collecting in this country.

His know-it-all blather is obnoxious enough when it is directed at other bloggers with whom he disagrees (even including at times some on "his side" of the issues!), but he has now achieved yet another new low in his ridicule of indivduals who have been forced by the State Department's "green initiative" to post their comments about the Bulgarian MOU on line.

Leaving aside his insults, Barford seems to suggest that coin collectors are failing to specifically comment on these provisions of the CPIA:

If the President determines, after request is made to the United States under article 9 of the Convention by any State Party--
(A) that the cultural patrimony of the State Party is in jeopardy from the pillage of archaeological or ethnological materials of the State Party;
(B) that the State Party has taken measures consistent with the Convention to protect its cultural patrimony;
(C) that--
(i) the application of the import restrictions set forth in section 2606 of this title with respect to archaeological or ethnological material of the State Party, if applied in concert with similar restrictions implemented, or to be implemented within a reasonable period of time, by those nations (whether or not State Parties) individually having a significant import trade in such material, would be of substantial benefit in deterring a serious situation of pillage, and
(ii) remedies less drastic than the application of the restrictions set forth in such section are not available; and
(D) that the application of the import restrictions set forth in section 2606 of this title in the particular circumstances is consistent with the general interest of the international community in the interchange of cultural property among nations for scientific, cultural, and educational purposes; the President may, subject to the provisions of this chapter, take the actions described in paragraph (2).....

But how would most collectors be in any position at all to comment intelligently on most of this legalese? On the other hand, many collectors have quite rightly focused on the potential impact of import restrictions on their hobby.

Don't such concerns go to the ability of Americans to trade and collect ancient coins that are freely available worldwide (including within Bulgaria itself)? And as such, don't complaints about discriminatory import restrictions go directly to the CPIA's concerted response requirement as well as the use of ancient coins as educational tools?

So, what exactly is Barford, the obnoxious know-it-all, talking about?

In any event, it certainly does no credit to other members of the archaeological community that one of their number is in effect seeking to suppress the First Amendment rights of American collectors as well as the views of collectors outside the US with his obnoxious ridicule of those forced to comment publicly on the website.

1 comment:

Dave Welsh said...

Mr. Barford does everything in his power to oppose, ridicule and discredit attempts by those in the collecting community to defend their longstanding and legitimate rights.

I find this ironic, considering the criticism I received last month for defending Mr. Barford's own right to state his extremely controversial views in a public Internet forum.

Mr. Barford ignores an important issue: the State Department is attempting to restrict topics upon which the public may comment to those which harmonize with their bureaucratic agenda, which clearly is to seize every opportunity to issue import restrictions on "archaeological artifacts," whether or not such artifacts actually come under the intentions of the 1970 UNESCO Convention and the 1983 CCPIA implementing that Convention in the USA.

The Sate Department, of course, has no legal right to control what members of the public may say in their comments.

In pursuing this line of argument, Mr. Barford makes it clear that in his view there is one standard for archaeology, and another for everything else. Whatever archaeologists desire to do to preserve the archaeological record is per se right, and any legal (or extralegal) means supporting this goal is justified. Whatever collectors desire to do in order to preserve their right to collect ancient artifacts is per se wrong, and no means (however well established in law) supporting this is justified.

Peter Tompa's comment that Mr. Barford's utterly one-sided approach is no credit to the archaeological community is well founded. The overt unfairness and unreason of Mr. Barford's attacks on collecting have caused all responsible members of the archaeolgical community to distance themselves from this obnoxious extremism.

Dave Welsh
Unidroit-L Listowner