Thursday, August 11, 2011

Discrediting Tactics Instead of Open Discussion

Now there are people who ignore the issues I raise in my Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues blog, there are those who enter into the spirit of the debate and try to refute my arguments and opinions. Then there are the metal detectorists. How do they react? A glance through the comments section reveals none of them uses their real name, they send abusive posts full of aggressive phrasing and threats or just generally set out to be abusive and disruptive. I think I am right in saying that there is no more than a handful of comments written by UK metal detectorists ("passionately care about the past") that does not fall into that category.

Outside we see the same thing. The infamous photoshopped faux gay-porn photo send by metal detectorist "Belzoni" to the public access Portable Antiquities Scheme Forum which was one of the last of a series of disruptive events in response to broader discussion of the Scheme and its activities which led to it being closed down. Then we had the "Barfordisation" blog by "Steve Welton", author of a libellous "Wikipedia" page about me - mercifully gone. Now we have "Candice Jarman". Then within the last weeks the promise we'd soon see "hundreds" of metal detectorists opening blogs intending to "swamp" my blog and get it closed down "one way or another". So far the only new arrival on the cultural property blogosphere is by the sender of those words.

Now to give the bloke his due, this is the first one to actually use his real name, the rest have been hiding behind pseudonyms ("Candice" has even changed his gender to further throw people off the track). Steve Taylor is a real metal detectorist, well-known and not only in Gloucestershire, it seems. So anyway after finding that threats don't really work, he has set out on a one-man mission to save the reputation of English metal detectorists by swamping out what one bloke in Poland is saying about them in the wider context of collecting issues. So what arguments is he offering? Well, obviously, he wants people to think he is me, got himself a blogger URL similar to mine to maybe capture some of the traffic which might otherwise go to my main blog:
Spot the difference. Here's the profile of the "author" of this blog:

Now apart from the scatological "humour" that betrays this person's general educational level ("educated to 11+ standard but has fallen back ever since") he also accuses me of involvement in an illegal activity - "Interests: nighthawking". Passing on to the "content", the first post and the picture accompanying it sets the tone of the whole endeavour:

"Belzoni" all over again, and why not, they are old metaldetecting partners together. Please note the author managed to get all the way through a British school without lernink the diffrense between "there" and "their". Nor the difference between good and bad taste, or why normal people don't go around accusing somebody of an act which is illegal in the country where they live. "Strike two", Mr Taylor. "Antiquities" is spelt with an "i". A post made last night manages to insult my father, my wife and again accuse me (and her) of an act illegal in the country where it is alleged to have taken place (here stated as a 'fact' and not an allegation). "Strike Three" Mr Taylor. You are out.

So far, just four posts:

I commend a reflection on the contents of this new blog to any supporters of the Portable Antiquities Society, and any supporters of the Portable Antiquities Scheme as an excellent example typical of the mentality and lack of intellectual and emotional maturity of many a metal detectorist in the UK. These are the people current policy rewards for digging up the fragile remains of the archaeological record for entertainment and profit. These people are not, as ex-Culture-Minister Lammy once implied "alienated" and disinherited from society, here we see the process of alienation and the expression of self-centred entitlement operating in the other direction. Take a good look at this crudity, and then turn back to my blog and consider whether there is anything inherently unreasonable in what I say there about the need to reassess current policies on artefact hunting in the UK. And if there is, whether the metal detectorists' way of dealing with the problem as seen in Mr Taylor's blog is the most publicly acceptable one.

This rather looks like the way an English inner city hoodie would talk about somebody who gets in the way of doing what he wants to do, rather than an expression of views by a member of the community of people "caring about the heritage".

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