Unsinkable The Full Story

George Behe

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Hi, Tracy!

> It is quite possible the newspapers "jazzed up" >Lord's comments in order to sell
> more newspapers.

I'm afraid Lord's blanket denials of any unusual occurrences on board the Californian hardly qualify as having been "jazzed up" in order to sell newspapers. Quite the opposite, in fact.

All my best,

George
 

Tracy Smith

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But of course, we don't know whether the Leyland Line officials had advised him on what to say on certain topics. It is known that officials from the Line met him in Boston when he docked, so this is not beyond the realm of possibility.
 

George Behe

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Hi, Tracy!

>But of course, we don't know whether the Leyland Line >officials had advised him on what to say on certain
> topics. It is known that officials from >the Line met him in Boston when he docked, so this is not >beyond the
> realm of possibility.

I agree with you that Lord might have made deliberate misstatements of fact in an attempt to avoid causing embarrassment for the Leyland Line. (That being the case, I suspect his misstatements of fact may have continued throughout the two inquiries, too.)

All my best,

George
 
Jan 21, 2001
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Hi Tracy! and others:

Logan Green asked me offline about my opinion on this matter - here's the gist of what I said to him:

"So far as what Lord himself said to the newspapers, we cannot know if he was quoted with complete accuracy."

But it goes beyond whether Lord's exact words were used or mis-reported. It's the entire episode in Boston that betrays his dishonesty, and on a personal level. The common theme reported by all the newspapers was "Nobody on our ship saw rockets," "Nobody was asked to sign a private document," "First Officer Stewart was on watch," and so on. Although a newspaper might have gotten some words wrong here and there, it would be difficult for all of them to get the basic thrust of Lord's version so wrong. Especially interesting is that at the BR Inquiry, a full month later, Lord stumbled so badly over who first told him about the rockets (Stewart vs Stone - a near repeat of his Boston quote) that the Attorney General immediately asked all the other officers to leave the room. That is difficult to lay at the feet of a careless Boston press. Keep in mind that Isaacs, Mersey, et al had the benefit of observing him on the stand; they weren't relying merely on words on paper where they might have been taken out of context or misunderstood.

Remember, the unraveling of his version of events took place over nearly a week. It's not believable to attribute that back to newspapers having "jazzed up" his interviews.

"The idea that he didn't come to the Titanic's rescue because he couldn't be bothered to get out bed just doesn't make sense when you look at the rest of his career, both before and after. He'd worked very hard to achieve command at the early age of 28,"

But it does make sense when you consider that as a correct and responsible and exemplary officer, with a promising career ahead, he didn't want to risk going through the ice at night, when he had never been in field ice before. I don't think his inaction was out of a sense of "I can't be bothered," as much as it was "I am not going to take that risk," perhaps for many of the same reasons that you and your co-writers enumerated in your article.

That frame of mind is revealed in his remark "If I go to Washington it will not be because of this story in the paper, it will be to explain why my ship was stopped while the Titanic was rushing about at full speed."

"I find it significant and indicative of Lord's basic character that he had nothing but commendations before and after the Titanic disaster. "

From some, specifically those who were willing to work with him afterwards. We don't know how many professional associates would have nothing to do with him because of Apr 15th; we don't know how many shipping firms refused to hire him; etc. There were also many professionals at the time who were intensely critical of him.

Dave Billnitzer
 

John M. Feeney

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Tracy:

There's little I can add to what George and Dave have already said. Frankly I think you're deluding yourself at this point, if only because -- like Lord himself -- you consistently seem to doubt or reject outright anything unfavorable to the man, no matter how overwhelming, while embracing wholeheartedly any hint of "good news" and offering personal assurances about Lord's character that you can't possibly have any real knowledge of.

I admit there are certainly unresolved questions about Lord and the Californian, but the man's intrinsic honesty is NOT one of them. As Dave and George both pointed out, Lord consistently and repeatedly lied to the Boston Press -- the whole of it. Nor did he merely avoid reporters and/or refuse to answer their questions. Rather, he concocted an incredibly elaborate hoax, and even seemed to bask initially in its fictitious glory. He also presented in evidence at the Hearings a log book that contained no mention whatsoever of ANY of the significant events of April 14-15 -- no ship sighted dead in the water, no morsing, no rockets, no "steaming away to the southwest", no NOTHING!

You have "The Ship that Stood Still"! Disregard Reade's conclusions, if you wish, but the facts are still right there in black and white. (Where they're not explicitly shown, there are abundant notes to enable the *reader* to locate their source.)

Now, whether Lord lied in adherence to "company instructions", as you speculated, or simply acted independently to save his own hide makes little difference as regards his personal integrity. Lord effectively cut his own throat once he instituted that massive cover-up; he single-handedly demolished his own credibility!

And if his multiple falsehoods *were* for some reason solicited by Leyland (actually IMM, which also owned the Titanic), then it's small wonder he got a glowing reference from them! (A man who'd sell his soul for the company? What more could an employer ask??)

No, I'm sorry, but the Boston falsehoods and other inconsistencies in Lord's accounts can't merely be swept under the carpet. Like the Titanic's rockets, they simply won't go away.

Regards,
John
 
Jan 21, 2001
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One other irony, relating to Lord's Boston behaviors: When you get right down to it, Ernest Gill's version of events in Boston was much closer to the facts that finally emerged at the Inquiries and in the Stone / Gibson affidavits, than Lord's version ever was.

Something to think about, for those who think $500 diminishes Gill's honesty.

Dave Billnitzer
 

Tracy Smith

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Well, I've got the entire trio weighing in here....
proud.gif


First of all, it isn't required that Lord be a candidate for sainthood in order for him to be innocent of what he was accused of. There was only one perfect person and I believe a religion was started based on him. Secondly, how a person reacts under stress, badly or not, is not proof positive of guilt. I'm sure we all have reacted badly to stress a time or two.

John Feeney said,

you consistently seem to doubt or reject outright anything unfavorable to the man, no matter how overwhelming, while embracing wholeheartedly any hint of "good news"

Well, John, you are absolutely correct, and I'll tell you why. What Captain Lord is accused of is an extremely serious charge, which I believe should only have been done with the utmost of regret only after Lord was shown to be guilty beyond the shadow of a doubt. And though there is indeed information that seemingly points to his guilt, I believe what we have available to us falls far short of the standard of guilt beyond the shadow of a doubt. If this standard had been able to have been met, I have no doubt that Lord Mersey would have attempted to have Lord's certificates pulled, no matter what Mersey said to the contrary after the fact. I also believe that both the American and British hearings were conducted too hastily, without sufficient time to gather all the facts and question enough people, both privately and on the stand. Sadly, much useful information no doubt was lost to history, information that would have been easy enough to track down at the time, but will be very difficult, if not impossible for us to find now.

Guilt "beyond the shadow of a doubt" is a very tough standard, but a correct one. This is how I was taught to view such things when I worked in law enforcement. In light of this and of his record before and after the Titanic disaster, I have chosen to give him the benefit of the doubt. <FONT COLOR="ff0000">To me, he is innocent until he is proven guilty beyond the shadow of a doubt, not guilty until proven innocent beyond the shadow of a doubt. The burden of proof is always with the accusers, not the accused, and that is how it should be.

And it is interesting you made this point, John, because I was thinking of the very same thing, but in reverse. I thought that those who accuse Captain Lord are eager to pounce on any perceived inconsistency pointing to guilt, eager to believe the comments of anyone opposed to him, eager to doubt him at every level, and eager to define him as a man based heavily on the events surrounding the Titanic disaster.

My research into Lord is focused more on his life before and after, rather than on the Californian matter, per se, because I believe that no person can be reduced one event in their lives. To more accurately judge a person's basic character, we have to look for patterns present throughout that person's life.

As far as Ernest Gill goes, I am well aware that many of those in the anti-Lord camp have doubts as to his veracity as well as those in favor of Captain Lord.

Gentlemen, I don't ever expect that we'll ever be of accord on this topic, but at least you know where I'm coming from.
 

John M. Feeney

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Sep 20, 2000
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Guilt "beyond the shadow of a doubt" is a very tough standard, but a correct one. This is how I was taught to view such things when I worked in law enforcement. In light of this and of his record before and after the Titanic disaster, I have chosen to give him the benefit of the doubt. To me, he is innocent until he is proven guilty beyond the shadow of a doubt, not guilty until proven innocent beyond the shadow of a doubt.

Tracy {shrug}: Surely since you previously worked in law enforcement, you should be aware that most *misdemeanors* -- which is in fact the category of charge Stanley Lord would have been faced with, had he been prosecuted -- do not *require* a finding of "guilt beyond the shadow of a doubt". (Never mind that this is not a court of law!) That sort of intensity is reserved for the far more serious felony charges, at least here in the U.S. (I'd have to defer to our British nationals for the procedural gravity there.) Misdemeanor convictions, as far as I know, normally require only a verdict of "guilty beyond a *reasonable* doubt", do they not?

But of course, if Lord is entitled to the "benefit of the doubt", why do I not detect this spirit equitably applied to Lord's detractors? Ernie Gill was a "paid informant" (translation: sleaze bag), while Lord's *obvious* lies are somehow excuseable, and do not detract from his overall character?? (Sounds a lot like a "don't confuse me with the facts" stance to me.)

My research into Lord is focused more on his life before and after, rather than on the Californian matter, per se, because I believe that no person can be reduced one event in their lives. To more accurately judge a person's basic character, we have to look for patterns present throughout that person's life.

Your research into Lord's life -- before and after -- is commendable. But I find the more general implication that a person's whole life must be viewed in order to understand a particular series of events therein to be inherently flawed and ludicrous. If this were indeed realistic, we would gain tremendous insights into the actions of Saul of Tarsus by examing the life of Saint Paul!

No, a person's whole life may need to be examined to comprehend their whole life, but only the portion *preceding* a particular happenstance need have any relevence to that occurrence. And not even that's a given -- consider for just a moment "crimes of passion"! There the past itself sheds little light. But to look beyond that, to the future, in search of "present tense" meaning is kaballistic, to say the least.

People involved in crisis situations, like the Titanic survivors and Captain Lord, can and do frequently experience profound changes in their psyches as a result of that experience. Rather than a predictable continuum, they often exhibit marked contrasts between the "before" and "after". So I don't believe there's *any* merit in just assuming that the future will magically clarify the past! (In religious parlance, this is far too reminiscent of "predestination", which ignores entirely the mundane fact of "free will".)

I bid you the very best in this quest to understand Stanley Lord. I do not find fault with the man or his actions by mere whim or inclination, but by the facts I can observe from the testimonies and other primary sources. If you can uncover new, tangible *evidence* that sheds a totally different light on the circumstances of the Californian Incident (or of Lord's subsequent duplicitous waivering), I'll be standing in line to view it!

But if you merely posture in Lord's defense by offhandedly besmirching the integrity of convenient "little people" like Ernie Gill, while offering only the most speculative of excuses for why it might have been understandable for Lord to lie with *audacity* in Boston, I'm not buying it for a minute. If Lord is truly to be perceived as an unjustly maligned individual, it clearly remains to be demonstrated why Gill, Groves, Evans, Gibson, and a host of others (including Lord Mersey and Senator Smith) should all be considered malicious and fraudulent.

Regards,
John
 

John M. Feeney

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And it is interesting you made this point, John, because I was thinking of the very same thing, but in reverse. I thought that those who accuse Captain Lord are eager to pounce on any perceived inconsistency pointing to guilt, eager to believe the comments of anyone opposed to him, eager to doubt him at every level, and eager to define him as a man based heavily on the events surrounding the Titanic disaster.

So you're suggesting, Tracy, that rather than basing our observations on first-hand examination (and a reasoned interpretation) of the actual *facts* of the case -- the observable events and circumstances contemporary to the Titanic disaster and its aftermath -- we're somehow involved in a massive, unreasoned, witch hunt conspiracy? That we're a gullible, easily misled lot of sheep following some herd?? That we just don't like the man's looks or something, or want to see him crucified for the sheer joy of mayhem?? (Am I reading you right here?)

"... eager to believe the comments of anyone opposed to him ..."

Indeed? Do tell! Yeah, I was so eager to believe the comments of anyone opposed to him (and by corollary, summarily reject all evidence potentially in favor of him) that I deliberately read ALL of Cyril Evans' testimony under the foolish assumption that I had perhaps somehow missed something. (You know, when you posted that red herring about Evans confirming visually Lord's assertion that the ship they saw was not the Titanic?)

Silly me! I should have realized you were quoting -- sorry, incorrectly paraphrasing -- that unimpeachable primary source, Leslie Harrison. Puh-lease!

Tracy, I have much better things to do with my time than engage in some sort of 90-years-running, cult persecution conspiracy, if that's what you truly think it is. My arguments against Lord are based on the facts; not on some peculiar obsession. What are yours based on?

... eager to define him as a man based heavily on the events surrounding the Titanic disaster.

Well, here I just wish you'd make up your *own* mind. Are you defending the man's overall life, or his particulars during the period of the Titanic disaster? Because you keep making blanket proclamations *specific* to the Titanic disaster and hearings, but base them theoretically on his *whole* life. As I see it, that's in total contradiction to your complaint above. (Just my opinion, of course.)

I myself have no interest in defining him "as a man" (that is, within some lofty context of his entire life). I'm interested in the particulars of what actually occurred at the time of Titanic, pure and simple. As someone who worked in law enforcement, you should surely see the value of that perspective! ("Just the facts, ma'am.") And as I previously asserted, I see no need to gaze into an all-seeing crystal ball to determine those event-specific realities.

My apologies if this seems rather heavy-handed. I admit, I *am* more than a bit "tweaked" by the implications I perceive in that initial paragraph.

Perplexed,
John Feeney
 

Tracy Smith

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You wanted to know where I was coming from and I told you. I'm sorry that it doesn't meet with your approval, but I gave my honest opinion. As I also have better things to do with my time than to be baited, I'll end this now as it is obvious we aren't getting anywhere except for raising each other's blood pressure. I have kept a civil tone throughout all of this, and I see your civility slipping away, so I'll stop wasting the time of both of us.

And I will not back down from the simple idea that a person is innocent until proven guilty, not guilty until proven innocent. Even if you don't agree that Captain Lord is innocent, you can at least respect this concept.
 
Jan 21, 2001
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Hi Tracy:

> And I will not back down from the simple idea that a person is innocent until proven guilty, not guilty until proven innocent. Even if you don't agree that Captain Lord is innocent, you can at least respect this concept. <

I am with you there, Tracy. What it comes down to is the standard for "proven guilty." As you know from law enforcement, "reasonable doubt" does not mean "any and all possible doubt." In fact, it is legally defined as:

"REASONABLE DOUBT - The level of certainty a juror must have to find a defendant guilty of a crime. A real doubt, based upon reason and common sense after careful and impartial consideration of all the evidence, or lack of evidence, in a case. Proof beyond a reasonable doubt, therefore, is proof of such a convincing character that you would be willing to rely and act upon it without hesitation in the most important of your own affairs. However, it does not mean an absolute certainty." (from the online 'Lectric Legal Library)

By definition, it allows for subjectivity. So essentially you are saying you have doubts; I am saying, I do not have doubts. Particularly when Lord himself agreed that "It might have been" a distress signal, and he had remained in the chartroom. Add to that the eyewitness accounts (direct evidence), the coincidental timings and mutual sightings (circumstantial evidence, which is perfectly admissible in court, as you know) and Lord's deliberate falsehoods, and I don't require further substantiation.

Let me ask you this: what would cause an innocent person to lie so blatantly as Lord did in Boston? Innocent or guilty, it certainly wasn't a well-advised strategy on his part.

Dave Billnitzer
 

George Behe

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Hi, Tracy!

>And I will not back down from the simple idea >that a person is innocent until proven guilty

There's no reason you should. However, I think we might be better off discussing *evidence* rather than Lord's behavior at other times during his career, since such behavior has no bearing on the aberrations (dishonesty due to stress etc.) that you seem to admit Lord succumbed to from April 15th until the conclusion of the inquiries.

You've mentioned several times that you believe there is evidence which shows Lord to be innocent of all 'charges.' Could you outline that evidence for us and tell us why you feel it supports Lord's cause? Thanks very much.

All my best,

George
 

Logan Geen

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Dec 2, 2001
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I feel almost as if I've entered a courtroom. On one side (my side) we have a prosecution poised to find him guilty, on the other is a defense prepared to exonerate him. And just like a court blood pressures do indeed go up. (By the way anyone who might warn me about people disagreeing with me I have been warned and I am prepared). Now both sides insist that the other side is selective, biased and immediately pounces on anything that benefits them while ignoring anything that disagrees. I think people on both sides have occaisonally done this, but I think most of us on this message board have done a great deal of research. I would like to mention a short phrase: "Those who don't understand their opponent's arguments do not understand their own". That is both sides should really make an effort to understand the opposition and not always think of the other side as being selective and dishonest. It is important to keep everything in perspective, and stay logical. I have looked at both sides of the issue several times and come up with my own conclusions, but mine are different from Tracy's. Fair enough. No one can be expected to have the same results. But I can honestly say I do understand where Tracy is coming from. And Tracy made a comment about being civil, yes, I totally agree, and I think we do a fantastic job of that here. I can understand John's feelings of exasperation, and I think we all feel that sometimes. Now that the defense and prosecution are ready all we need is a judge-somebody call Judge Judy. She'd handle this well:
"Sir I don't want to hear about other ships, just tell me about the Californian."
"What do you mean Gill was paid 500???"
"You wouldn't lie to the judge would you sir?"
 
May 8, 2001
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Logan. And the rest of us sitting in the jury box, uncertain, but weighing each and every argument very carefully, and trying to make a cut and dried choice as well. The Captain Lord subject is a deep rooted, painful one, and has been controversial since day one. I have gathered a few thoughts, but they stand 50/50 for and against, and I am not yet ready to make any decisions one way or the other. Your civilness has furthered my understanding and I do appreciate this subject being discussed.
Sincerely, and watchfully:
Colleen
 

Logan Geen

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Yes I am only 15. My love of the Titanic is a factor that has boosted my maturity (I only wish more people respected my interest in it).
 
J

Jemma Hyder

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Logan I know how you feel. I started detailed research for my book when i was 16 and it was very hard to get people to take me seriously. I still have the problem occasionally but I am 20 now so it's not so bad. good luck to you!
Jemma
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Dave Billnitzer asked "Let me ask you this: what would cause an innocent person to lie so blatantly as Lord did in Boston? Innocent or guilty, it certainly wasn't a well-advised strategy on his part."

The innocent lie because they don't trust anybody. In the atmosphere prevailing after the Titanic's loss (Read that to mean, witch hunt mentality...Ismay ultimately got a taste of that.) I can see why anybody would be less then candid with people asking nosy questions, especially if they stood a good chance of ending up as a scapegoat.

And in all fairness (To be objective) The guilty lie because they have to!

Tracy observed; "As far as Ernest Gill goes, I am well aware that many of those in the anti-Lord camp have doubts as to his veracity..."

Yeah, and I'm one of them. Reade himself did a nice job in pointing out how the man's story improved over time too. Frankly, I doubt the veracity of anybody who runs to the media first with damning information and with his hand out for a payoff. There are much better witnesses then this bloke.

BTW, as an aside, does anybody know why the U.S. Senate inquiry overlooked the Californian's officers, particularly Stone and Gibson? Seems quite an oversight to ignor or forget to summon the people actually on watch. Mersey's people did a much better job in this regard.

(My opinion of course. Your results may vary.)

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

George Behe

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Hi, Mike!

>The innocent lie because they don't trust anybody. ....

>The guilty lie because they have to!

Captain Lord also admitted that he couldn't really remember many of the things that his officers had told him on the night of the disaster.

Which brings to mind a quote by Dr. Laurence Peter: "The man with a clear conscience probably has a poor memory."

All my best,

George
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Hi George...interesting insight there. Thanks. You wouldn't by chance know why Stone and Gibson weren't called to testify at the U.S. Senate inquiry would you? This little oversight bothers me for a lot of reasons. Not the least of which is that Stone and Gibson had an awful lot of time to work on their story by the time Mersey got his hands on them...and pretty good reason to try and muddy the waters as they were the ones on watch!

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart