Today is “guest post” day, and my favorite arkie (in fact the only arkie I will listen to), Lisa MacIntyre does the honors. I have read through her comments here and have some thoughts but will share them later. Please feel free to share your opinions or comments, pro or con, or even I don’t really care. Thank you Lisa….
Hi all. Lisa here. For those that may not know me I am an archaeologist. (I feel like I’m at an AA meeting when I say that). I met Dick, and a lot of you out there, through one of the many detecting sites, blogs, radio shows, etc., and many of you have become very good friends. Dick Stout is one such person.
I want to start with a brief update on my son, Ken. As a refresher, Ken was diagnosed in June of last year with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at the ripe old age of 32. At the time of diagnosis his insurance had hit its max and he was basically uninsured.
Dick, along with American Digger’s “Relic Roundup” show, spearheaded a fundraiser that ultimately raised $7000.00… 99% of which came from the metal detecting community. I am happy to say that on January 16th of this year, Ken had his last chemo treatment and is officially in remission. It has been a long, scary, tough road, and there is still a long road ahead, however we made it through the roughest part of the road. We can never thank enough, those of you who donated and offered words of support. Thank you for being there for me and my family!
Now on to the down and dirty….
Recently an article was circulated by a detectorist friend that was written in the Tampa Bay Times by reporter, Ben Montgomery of Tampa, FL. and by columnist, Daniel Ruth. The article by, Ruth titled, “Ridiculous ‘raiders of the lost artifacts”, sets the stage of the reporting that follows. “There are more than 8 million stories in the naked swamps and forests of Florida. This is one of the absurdly ridiculous”….
I will give Mr. Ruth credit; he knows how to set the tone…
“Consider this scenario: one of the Timucua 14 winds up in the slammer and finds himself sharing a cell block with serial killers, rapists, child molesters, drug dealers and bank robbers when one of them asks: “So, what are you in for?” Hot arrowheads and felonious possession of a fossil. Really?
Are you fired up yet? The article is laced with innuendos that the perpetrators were poor unsuspecting souls who were tricked and that the FWC is nothing but a bunch of thugs out to throw innocent people in jail for picking up a few arrowheads. Nothing could be further from the truth. I take offense with this article in that it is exactly what reporting has come down to in our era. Sensationalized. Nothing better than the National Enquirer.
Are there truths here? Sure there are. Are they written in a way as to make the reader sympathize with the accused? Most certainly! Mr. Ruth even goes so far as to state that the arrests have led to a divorce, seized property, and a suicide! This is not reporting. This is nothing more than pandering to an audience. It is irresponsible at best. The article lessens the value of the reader’s intelligence by stating..
“No one would argue that it is important to protect Florida’s fragile ecosystem and its history from those would who would rape the landscape for greedy motives. But the Timucua 14 were hardly the Medellin Cartel of flint rock. It’s not as if these folks were conducting Florida panther hunts or feasting on bald eagle foie gras.”
Exactly what does killing eagles and panthers have to do with preserving and protecting Florida’s history from people stealing artifacts on NPS land and selling them in a theft operation? You see, Mr. Ruth fails to mention the actual facts of the operation. Without going into a back and forth I will add links to both articles and the FWC press release along with responses from FPAN and The Heritagist. Please read them all with the same open mind I have given you.
Mr. Montgomery’s article, titled “North Florida arrowhead sting: What’s the point?” is no better, stating how badly the accused were treated, whimpering, shackled, etc.. It should come as no surprise that people who are arrested are treated this way. Do I believe law enforcement takes liberties? Sure I do. Am I happy with that? Of course not! However, the article alludes that these were unwarranted arrests against poor unsuspecting law abiding citizens. Not true. These people clearly broke laws, and remember, this was all done on public land, not private! Is the punishment too harsh? I can’t say. How do you put a value on a piece of pottery, or a projectile point, or land being destroyed?
I may not agree with a lot of the laws against metal detecting, however I stand behind observing those laws. There are a lot of things I think should be legal but breaking the law because I think a law is wrong does not get me a free pass. I sign petitions and write letters to my officials to get these laws changed. I break the law; I take the risk of being jailed. These people broke the law. I also disagree with the way detectorists are treated and labeled by many in my profession. For that I can only say I am working to make it different. In the meantime, don’t break the law!
I mentioned my concerns to the person that posted the article by Montgomery, stating I felt this type of reporting does nothing to bridge the gap between our camps. These articles, I feel fuel fires we are trying to extinguish. In fairness, the other side of the story should also be published so that people can make an informed decision and I even provided that link. For this comment and suggestion I got blasted. I was called names, accused of being one sided, my profession was attacked, and a friendship was ended.
I feel that I have done my best to listen to complaints and search for valid compromises. I have sat quietly while my education has been attacked. I have responded with dignity whenever I have been accused of belonging to a profession out to have all detectorists thrown in jail. I have risked my career to voice my concerns and fight for detectorists rights. However, I will not be accused of being one sided and that does not give anyone the right to, call me names, slander my profession or education, and consistently lump me into a category of evil naysayer if I disagree with an idea or opinion. I feel that most of the complaints I hear are very valid. I have done my best to seek solutions, and will continue to do so. Granted I have not done much lately, but I did have that little son with cancer thing to deal with. I think I have proven that I can compromise and be fair. I will not stand by, however, while irresponsible articles like these are written from either side of the fence. If I am deluding myself, please feel free to let me know. I might listen!