[Ancientartifacts] Re: De Montebello responds

--- In Ancientartifacts@yahoogroups.com, "Paul Barford" <pbarford@...>
> Dave (and anyone else still following the De Montabello thread),
> I'm sure you'd concede that the whole POINT of De Montabello's reply
to Opoku WAS the "universal museum" concept which lies behind the
collecting activity (and was his justification for dismissing what the
African was saying), so in posting it here one might legitimately
assume that you were attempting to provoke discussion on it. So its
odd you shrink from it when it is questioned and instead persist on
following a speculative side-issue.

Mr. Barford:

Not for the first time, it has become glaringly apparent that you
simply do not understand, nor wish to productively discuss, any of the
real and operative issues. The degree of disconnect between your
biased and unrealistic perspective as to what should be the factors
which determine disposition of cultural property, and the factors
which actually do presently, and will in the future determine its
disposition, is enormous.

Let me cut this profitless discussion short by making the obvious
observation that OPINION is subjective and inherently meaningless, and
also utterly unenforceable. Whereas LAW, although often imperfect, is
inherently objective, meaningful and enforceable.

I have no interest in discussing anything with you that does not
relate to cultural property law, or what may in the future become
cultural property law. Your moralistic opinions, and likewise those of
Dr. Opoku and others who follow like points of view, have absolutely
no weight nor validity so far as I am concerned except insofar as they
will, or conceivably may, influence the law.

No doubt you will object to that. The objective answer to such
objections is that opinions only have practical importance insofar as
they may become influential in determining law. I do not believe that
any determination of the disposition of cultural property should ever
be based upon opinions held by you, or anyone else, as to what is
right or wrong. The sole determinant of such disposition should be
law. Opinions are incredibly cheap, likewise incredibly varied, and
may be had gratis in enormous abundance, in most any public park or
other forum in which those who intrepidly rise upon a soap-box to
spout their passionately held opinions, can attract an audience who
will listen to sermons about "Prepare to meet thy doom" and the like.

Therefore, I follow the point of view that your opinions as to the
morality of the "universal museum" concept and other issues relating
to what you, Dr. Opoku and others of like opinion choose to portray as
the rapine of cultural property by advanced civilizations at the
expense of those presently viewed as less advanced, are inherently
irrelevant and meaningless. Perhaps your opinions are important,
perhaps they are not. I make no judgement in this matter, but I will
not consider these opinions until they are in some way meaningfully
related to law.

To create relevance. I hold that you must show that such opinions have
genuine potential to become influential in determining the future of
cultural property law.

In pursuing the concept that law and legal concerns are what will
ultimately determine disposition of cultural property, I am by no
means "following a speculative side-issue." That distinction is
instead properly awarded to your views, and those of others who also
erroneously imagine that ideological opinions and moralistic arguments
regarding the ethics of cultural property transfers, in the absence of
specific and concrete discussions as to the legality of those
transfers, have any real and concrete meaning.

Dave Welsh
Unidroit-L Listowner


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