Will those who perished on the sea


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Mr. Cundiff, I hardly missed your points. I responded to them specifically, while you simply ignored mine. Your right of course. I won't lose sleep over it.

As for where to draw the line, this is one helluva good question, and the answers I keep seeing tend towards the emotional. One side it seems want's no lines at all while another says "hands off" with equal passion. That's why I said in a different post that I wasn't going to deal with debaters questions/scenerios and a long string of "what if's" and "whatabouts". All they do is run everybody around in circles, and I'm not going to play that game.

As I said once befor, so far as it answers historical and scientific questions, I have no problem with salvage and exploration in and of itself. We've learned quite a bit from it, especially regarding forensics issues, and I have no doubt that we'll learn more.
 

Inger Sheil

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I am one of those who have found myself on the receiving end of this kind of demonization from this cabal in the past, and I confess I still carry deep scars from these confrontations to this day, in that they succeeded in driving me out of Titanic discussion forums for two years altogether. And very seldom did I ever see any effort on the part of more moderate people in the anti-salvor ranks to repudiate the disgusting tactics these people resorted to in any of the previous Titanic forums I've belonged to.

I'm sorry that you've had such negative experiences in the past, but - difficult as it is - we all need to leave some of this emotional baggage behind us if we're to discuss this. In the past in other forum, I too have been demonised and savagely and personally attacked (on several occasions by someone who is a member of this forum). I've seen anti-Salvage members accused of everything from condoning intellectual chicanery to indulging in it themselves, of being anti-salvage only because they themselves don't have access to the material salvaged, of jealousy etc etc. The flip side to the above is that rarely, if ever, did the moderates of the pro-sal camp repudiate these tactics. The knife you're wielding cuts both ways, which is one reason why it's so damaging. It doesn't justify your comment that the most powerful opposition to salvage comes from the group of people you suggest. The vast majority of the anti-salvage individuals I've encountered (like the vast majority of the pro-sal I know personally, at least those I've met on-line) are decent folk and don't deserve to be characterised in the terms you used.

We will be debating this endlessly, because it involves questions of where legitimate historical research ends and intrusive curiousity begins. That there are such boundaries I think few would disagree - No one would condone delving into the debris of Ground Zero before it was cleared away, retrieving personal items, and putting them on display for private profit. At the other end of the spectrum, few would object to locating and publishing the letters of a Roman Soldier found - as some have been - in Hadrian's Wall.

It's where the lines in between these two far points are drawn that becomes hazy. The Salem Express went down over a decade ago. The Egyptian authorities retrieved what bodies they could, then sealed off the rest. For some time, however, bags of duty free goods could be seen litering the floor of the Red Sea. It was both accident site and grave site. Personally, I would view retrieval of objects from this site with disgust. And what of the Yongala, sunk in 1911 with 121 people aboard? She's now protected from all but the visitors who go aboard her (and, incidently, I see no problem with visiting a grave site - be it Changi War Cemetary or the Titanic. But I wouldn't go sifting and removing material among the graves of Changi). Britain now extends protection to her war wrecks as official gravesites - should there come a point where this is lifted and they are left open to the highest bidder? Or a situation as in the past when divers retrieved what they fancied - some went to great lengths to preserve their haul, others never bothered.

It's the emotional subjectivity with which this subject is fraught that renders it so prone to extreme passions, as it involves some very deep and very personal matters of concern. Where some talk about their emotional connection to the wreck being enhanced by contact with physical objects from the wreck, others - such as myself - feel the same wave of revulsion that we would seeing articles removed from an accident and/or gravesite, be it a plane crash or sunken ship.

And, as I said above, my view has been reinforced by interaction with those individuals who had family who either lived or were lost on the ship. I know one woman whose family were deeply affected by one of their own. As she described the lifelong effect it had on those who were close to him, she put some buttons from his first uniform in my hand to hold. Later (in a topic of conversation she initiated unprompted by me) she stated that, had his body been retrievable in the immediate aftermath, she would have wished him returned home. But as it had not proved possible, she regarded the Titanic as his grave. She drew a specific analogy between the ship and the World War I and II wrecks that British legislation now protects.
 

Eric Paddon

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"No one would condone delving into the debris of Ground Zero before it was cleared away, retrieving personal items, and putting them on display for private profit."

Items from Ground Zero in point of fact are already being put on display, starting with the remains of the sphere sculpture from the plaza at a temporary memorial park. The last time I checked, no one was advocating the total destruction of objects associated with Ground Zero and that nothing should ever be put in museums, which is what the anti-salvor position with regard to the Titanic was, suggesting that the privilege of seeing the Titanic with one's own eyes should be reserved only for the elite who can dive in a submersible. As for the "for profit" qualifier, that is not applicable to the Titanic so long as we have museum exhibitions open to the public that anyone can see. A salvor selling items to private collectors is another matter entirely, which I have always been opposed to, and whatever one thinks about RMSTI, the bottom line is that this mass auction of artifacts still hasn't happened after almost 15 years, so so much for the idea that profit was the initial driving motive behind their actions.

"At the other end of the spectrum, few would object to locating and publishing the letters of a Roman Soldier found - as some have been - in Hadrian's Wall."

Ah, but what if that was done "for profit"? I find it interesting that that qualifier got left out of this example, and I think in the interests of consistency it should not. Because if the motive was "for profit" for purpose of sale to a collector and not donation to a library or museum then we find something far less reputable than what has befallen Titanic's artifacts. And I will say again, the age has nothing to do with the value to history because as a 20th century scholar I'm more interested in the stories told by Howard Irwin's journal then I am from a letter to Hadrian (unless it contained reference to early Christians). No one has the right to engage in chronological snobbery to say one is more worthy of being saved than the other.

"It doesn't justify your comment that the most powerful opposition to salvage comes from the group of people you suggest."

When that group includes the man who found the Titanic, and who has milked that status for all its worth these last seventeen years, as well as the authors of published works about the Titanic, and not once have these people been taken to task for their conduct (which in Ballard's case included what can only be called outright deceptions), I can not accept the premise that anti-salvor thought in general has managed to completely divorce itself from a line of thinking that Robert Ballard helped to create.

Titanic's artifacts go beyond those of the typical shipwreck because it was and is the embodiment of a seminal moment in history that requires preservation because it is associated with a great event. And as far as I'm concerned if its wrong to look at artifacts in a museum, then it's peeping tom voyeurism to look at pictures of them on the ocean floor, because that isn't the equivalent of going to a gravesite to reflect in front of the headstone, that's the equivalent of opening it up and gawking at the contents before sealing it up again.
 

Inger Sheil

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As for the "for profit" qualifier, that is not applicable to the Titanic so long as we have museum exhibitions open to the public that anyone can see.

Not free, are they? I think there would be strong objections to items scavanged from Ground Zero and put in a travelling show for which a hefty admission price was charged.

Ah, but what if that was done "for profit"? I find it interesting that that qualifier got left out of this example, and I think in the interests of consistency it should not.

You miss - or choose to ignore my point - entirely. I am well aware of the ambiguities involved in where archaelogy, scavenging, tomb-robbing and salvaging blur. If you like, add the qualifier 'for profit' to the par. re Hadrian's Wall - it is irrelevant to my point that while people would object to strangers sifting through the personal items of Ground Zero and putting them on display, few would raise the same objections to these actions taken in regards to an ancient Phoenician, Mesopotamian or Egyptian. These are polar ends of the spectrum. So where, in between these two points, does archeology cease and desecration begin?

There is not an easy answer, as I think all sides would have to concede. I was at Sydney University in the History Department at a time when much soul searching was going on over the University's collection of Aboriginal artifacts. These had been acquired last century (sometimes by fairly nefarious means) and modern indigenous Australians were demanding their return. Archaelogical methodology has a chequered history, to say the least, and has not always respected cultural sensitivities. This is in part a result of our very Western concept of the dissemination of information - that all data should be accessible, and that no knowledge is 'sacred' or should be closed to us. Our culture celebrates the accumulations of data.

The British Government very recently designated fatal British war wrecks as officially 'war graves', with the protection that entails. So once again we find ourselves in faced in morally ambiguous waters - why should the HMS Donegal, with far fewer fatalities, be treated with more respect than the Titanic?

No one has the right to engage in chronological snobbery to say one is more worthy of being saved than the other.

No one has the right to tell the relatives of victims that their views on intrusive curiousity are invalid. The phrase 'intellectual snobbery' could have come out of my post-structuralist University days - of course finds should be ranked by importance! There simply is no comparison between an ancient archaelogical find that reveals a great wealth of information and objects about an era we know little about and a recent findings concerning comparatively commonplace items which are for the most part well document. There is certainly no dearth of information about our recent past 100 years. In a wider historical context, finds such as letters reveal nothing of any real archaelogical or historical significance (unless, say, it was discovered that Butt was carrying secret despatches). They reveal further personal details, but I think it's rather a stretch to claim that any such finds constitute an enhancement of our knowledge of 20th Century history.

I disagree that the Titanic was a 'seminal moment in history'. As we've discussed here on the board, it was an event of great cultural impact, but I don't think it significantly impacted on the course of 20th Century human affairs. I see no reason why it requires the sort of "preservation" including the accessing and display of personal items, that you write of. My own personal view is that a far more appropriate ending would be to leave her and all she encompasses where she is, to gradually dissolve. Such is the wish of the majority of those connected with the disaster and either those who perished or those who live.

When that group includes the man who found the Titanic, and who has milked that status for all its worth these last seventeen years, as well as the authors of published works about the Titanic, and not once have these people been taken to task for their conduct (which in Ballard's case included what can only be called outright deceptions), I can not accept the premise that anti-salvor thought in general has managed to completely divorce itself from a line of thinking that Robert Ballard helped to create.

You've dodged my point. I was addressing your sweeping generalisations about those who take a strong anti-salvage position. While complaining about the treatment you have received from the anti-salvage movement in the past, at the same time you made the following broadside against people like myself (and those with a personal connection to the victims who are anti salvage):

The ones most upset it seems are Robert Ballard and a peculiar group of modern Titanic buffs who have track records that rival if not exceed the worst behavior RMSTI has at times engaged in.

This is an extremely unkind and unfair generalisation about people who, like myself, hold a position that runs contrary to that of your own. I object strongly to being lumped in with this 'peculiar group'.

I have no connection with Robert Ballard. His views on the subject have no influence or bearing on my own. I have formulated my stance quite independently of his position. Most of those I have spoken to regarding the loss of family on board the ship who object to salvage are not even aware of what he has to say on the subject.

I disagree most emphatically that taking photographs of a cemetary, such as Changi, in any way equates to violating a grave. While - once again - it is difficult to determine when documentation pushes over into intrusiveness and even violation, I believe that there is a distinction. Titanic is not only a gravesite - she is her own memorial. As you are well aware, not everyone is able to access memorials (I can't visit Gettysburg as often as I'd like). A photograph of a headstone (or a window, or a chandelier) serves as a touchstone of memory - without opening the coffin and picking up what we like out of the contents and carting it home.

I recognise you're passionate about this, Eric, and that you believe in salvage for good and noble reasons. All I ask is that you extend the same courtesy to people like myself who feel just as passionately against it. At the core of this debate is our own personal morality and sense of what is decent and right, and we are both doing as our conscience dictates. Which is why you will continue to argue with fervor for salvage, and I will argue against it. I couldn't do any less and still face those who have spoken so poignantly about what for us was an interesting episode of history, but for them was a shadow of grief over their families.
 

Eric Paddon

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"Not free, are they?"

Since the Titanic exhibition is not paid for by my tax dollars like the Smithsonian is, and since it was a private company that received salvage rights fair and square, paying for the exhibition is not a big deal by my reckoning and is no different than having to pay for the IMAX film. Better a museum exhibition where one must pay a small fee to get in than no exhibition of sale to private collectors only.

"I think there would be strong objections to items scavanged from Ground Zero and put in a travelling show for which a hefty admission price was charged."

The Titanic exhibition is not remotely comparable to this. (1)-Artifacts set aside for appropriate memorial sites are already being taken care of (the sphere) and (2) people can visit Ground Zero and take in the history of the site without having to pay millions of dollars to dive in a submersible as people have to do with the Titanic. A Titanic exhibition of artifacts brings the ship closer to the people which was not possible before given how little there was in the way of actual pieces of the Titanic to be found in museums that were recovered in 1912.

"It is irrelevant to my point that while people would object to strangers sifting through the personal items of Ground Zero and putting them on display, few would raise the same objections to these actions taken in regards to an ancient Phoenician, Mesopotamian or Egyptian."

And I maintain that from the standpoint of appreciation for the past, the Titanic is no different from Egyptian artifacts etc. unless one uses the chronological snobbery argument that I have not a whit of sympathy for. And when it comes to displaying artifacts from a more recent tragedy that no one seems to object to, all I can say is "Holocaust Museum."

"So where, in between these two points, does archeology cease and desecration begin?"

As long as I believe that all human life is equal in the eyes of God, I will never accept the premise that the Titanic, where there are no actual human remains to be disturbed, is any different from other shipwrecks of the last 150 years that have also been salvaged with (and this is the important point) *not one word of objection from anyone* at the time of the salvage. Until I see those who want to make Titanic a special case do the same for the Andrea Doria, the Lusitania and yes, the Monitor, then all I see is inconsistency of the first order.

"No one has the right to tell the relatives of victims that their views on intrusive curiousity are invalid."

This to me is a red herring with regard to Titanic, because I can cite the names of survivors who have supported the expeditions for the same reasons that I believe in them. And it seems to me that anti-salvor thought has been absolutely abominable in regard to acknowledging the sentiments expressed by Louise Pope, Beatrice Sandstrom etc. over the years, to the point where some have suggested they were brainwashed, or that somehow they really didn't appreciate the tragedy of the Titanic as much as Robert Ballard, or to regard them as non-persons, whereas Eva Hart was built up as the supposed voice of *all* survivors, and that is something I object to quite strenuously when the record is clear that there was no uniform opinion on this.


"There simply is no comparison between an ancient archaelogical find that reveals a great wealth of information and objects about an era we know little about and a recent findings concerning comparatively commonplace items which are for the most part well document."

Again, by whose definition? 20th century specialists like myself would point out that this cavalier attitude about "we know all we have to about this period" has led to the destruction of more items associated with the 20th century then that which seemingly exist for ancient times. I for one find it appalling that when it comes to the great ocean liners of the early 20th century, only the Queen Mary will ever endure in a shell of its original state, while there will be more sailing ships and ancient ships around thousands of years from now precisely because of the chronological snobbery mindset. A single collection of Titanic artifacts will ultimately over the long haul preserve more about the Great Ocean liners of the early 20th century than anything else and has the added benefit of being part of a seminal moment in 20th century history. I find that more interesting than anything from the ancient realm ever will be, and those like me who are more interested in that era of history should not be condescendingly put down as somehow being unimportant as anti-salvor thought would do it would seem.

"They reveal further personal details, but I think it's rather a stretch to claim that any such finds constitute an enhancement of our knowledge of 20th Century history."

To me, they do. They make Titanic's victims become three-dimensional people and not some list of impersonal names in the appendix of a book. They provide a fuller, richer picture of what the experience of this ship was really like, that fills in the voids that before only our imaginations could ponder. And that is important to preserve so that the Titanic one day just doesn't become a collection of murky photographs and incomplete secondary works.

"I disagree that the Titanic was a 'seminal moment in history'."

Wrong. The Titanic was the ultimate precursor to the loss of faith in progress that World War I made complete. That is something that no 20th century scholar would underestimate. Titanic's status as a cultural symbol of an age that was dying and would soon be swept away is why her story has endured far better than the Lusitania, where the ship was a minor player in the backdrop spectacle of WW1.

"I see no reason why it requires the sort of "preservation""

It seems to me though, that here are you trying to continue an argument that was settled 15 years ago when the first artifacts were recovered, and this is another reason why I find anti-salvor thought to be more than a bit tiresome. There is the neverending aura of not wanting to accept reality as it exists, which is a world where there will be preserved artifacts, like it or not, so when do we finally see anti-salvor thought accept the reality and move one and try to work constructively in the world we live in today, which is to see that these recovered artifacts stay in one collection and out of the hands of private collectors? The only reason it seems to me why anti-salvors still want to argue long after this became a moot point, is because it almost seems like they would at heart be happy if circumstances could lead to the destruction of these artifacts.

"My own personal view is that a far more appropriate ending would be to leave her and all she encompasses where she is, to gradually dissolve."

I have not one drop of sympathy for that point of view. I regard it as irresponsible in the extreme and I regard it as the kind of thinking that has caused so much of our recent past to be destroyed senselessly. And I ultimately regard it as an attitude that demeans the importance of Titanic. And I reject utterly this false premise about the "majority" of those connected with the disaster when the record indicates otherwise. Appealing to survivor sentiment when the record shows a division in ranks is not valid.

"You've dodged my point. I was addressing your sweeping generalisations about those who take a strong anti-salvage position."

I can only go from firsthand experience, and the stories I could tell you privately would be quite revealing. And when that is added to a track record of deliberate misinformation from a man who has been canonized for far too long, I begin to detect a general trend that is hard for me to shake.

"The ones most upset it seems are Robert Ballard and a peculiar group of modern Titanic buffs who have track records that rival if not exceed the worst behavior RMSTI has at times engaged in."

And I stand by those remarks, because in the case of Robert Ballard, I go by a documented track record of his words and deeds, and that also applies to all of the anti-salvor people I have had dealings with in the past with only a few exceptions to the rule. I am willing to concede your status in the exception to the rule category, but I have yet to see any evidence that anti-salvor thought in general has openly condemned or repudiated the despicable conduct engaged in by the people I have in mind.

"I disagree most emphatically that taking photographs of a cemetary, such as Changi, in any way equates to violating a grave."

If you open the headstone to gawk at the contents it is. And the counterpart to Titanic would be diving down to the bottom to gawk at her furnishings. Visiting the gravesite would mean staying on the surface above the wreck. But if its okay for an elite few in million dollar submersibles to gawk at the Titanic and her artifacts, then there is absolutely no difference when other people who will never be able to do that in their lives see the same objects in a museum. And if anti-salvor thought is to ever be consistent about their supposed concerned for the sacrosanct status of Titanic, they'll advocate an end to all dives on the wreck and allow that beloved rotting process to continue unhindered. No more Cameron dives either (and when it comes to exploitation of the victims, I regard Cameron's horrible movie as the ultimate crowning insult, not a dignified museum setting, but that's another story for another thread)

"(I can't visit Gettysburg as often as I'd like)."

But when you do visit it, it doesn't cost you a million dollars to dive on it. And when you visit it, you are seeing it in a context with your own senses.
 

Inger Sheil

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**As long as I believe that all human life is equal in the eyes of God, I will never accept the premise that the Titanic, where there are no actual human remains to be disturbed, is any different from other shipwrecks of the last 150 years that have also been salvaged with (and this is the important point) *not one word of objection from anyone* at the time of the salvage. Until I see those who want to make Titanic a special case do the same for the Andrea Doria, the Lusitania and yes, the Monitor, then all I see is inconsistency of the first order.**


Then do you see no difference between the investigation of an Ancient Egyptian tomb and the investigation of a modern graveyard?

This goes against everything I’ve been taught about archaeological methodology. You demand consistency, so I assume that you believe **all** wrecks should be accessible. The Arizona, The Yongala, the Titanic…Do you also believe that the British Government should revoke their protection of war wrecks as war graves?

"No one has the right to tell the relatives of victims that their views on intrusive curiousity are invalid."

**This to me is a red herring with regard to Titanic, because I can cite the names of survivors who have supported the expeditions for the same reasons that I believe in them. And it seems to me that anti-salvor thought has been absolutely abominable in regard to acknowledging the sentiments expressed by Louise Pope, Beatrice Sandstrom etc. over the years, to the point where some have suggested they were brainwashed, or that somehow they really didn't appreciate the tragedy of the Titanic as much as Robert Ballard, or to regard them as non-persons, whereas Eva Hart was built up as the supposed voice of *all* survivors, and that is something I object to quite strenuously when the record is clear that there was no uniform opinion on this.**

What I have found objectionable — and equally abominable - is that the views of those I have consulted (and these have been overwhelmingly of the opinion that the wreck is a gravesite and should be left unsalvaged) have in many instances been dismissed or downplayed by the pro-salvage lobby. This is not a ‘red herring’ as I don’t believe that their views cancel each other out. A “red herring” is defined by my Oxford dictionary as ‘something that draws attention away from the matter at hand’. I believe that far from being a distraction, the views expressed by the families I’ve spoken with are the very antithesis of a red herring…they are seminal to what is being discussed here, and they deserve to be taken into consideration rather than marginalized with the attitude that because some were pro and some against they somehow negate each other.

**Again, by whose definition? 20th century specialists like myself would point out that this cavalier attitude about "we know all we have to about this period" has led to the destruction of more items associated with the 20th century then that which seemingly exist for ancient times.**

You’re not the only 20th century specialist — I also have a particular interest in this era, and specifically in the very relevant area of British mercantile marine shipping practices of the late 19th early 20th century (also in the Irish War of Independence). I do not have a ‘cavalier’ attitude at all to research into this period — indeed, I relocated 12,000 miles to another country to better facilitate my studies. However, I can further my research through both private and public documents and archives without recourse to salvaging an accident-cum-gravesite.

**I for one find it appalling that when it comes to the great ocean liners of the early 20th century, only the Queen Mary will ever endure in a shell of its original state, while there will be more sailing ships and ancient ships around thousands of years from now precisely because of the chronological snobbery mindset.**

Well, you’re not going to be able to preserve the Titanic in any sort of intact state…!!! My opposition to salvage does not stem from 'chronological snobbery' - I am more fascinated by this period than any of the others I take an interest in. However, I think it's rather odd to level all objects from all eras into a common value - a rare example of an artifact used by a Middle Kingdom peasant is of more worth in piecing together our historical past than a knife, the same as any other of its era and of which many examples exists, that is distinguished only by its connection with a major transportation accident.

A single collection of Titanic artifacts will ultimately over the long haul preserve more about the Great Ocean liners of the early 20th century than anything else and has the added benefit of being part of a seminal moment in 20th century history.

More WSL china? We can buy it on ebay or wondering into a major maritime museum (Merseyside…the NMM…). Steamer trunks? We can purchase them too. Some of us probably have them in our attics. This material is by no means unique. I’m all for preserving it examples — I have my own collection of steamship material — but it is not necessary to utilize items recovered from the Titanic to do so.

I find that more interesting than anything from the ancient realm ever will be, and those like me who are more interested in that era of history should not be condescendingly put down as somehow being unimportant as anti-salvor thought would do it would seem.

You’re still making assumptions and generalizations about ‘anti-salvor’ thought, and apparently about me as well. I find this era of tremendous interest and, as outlined above, it is in fact my primary area of research. It would be rather odd, wouldn’t it, for me to ‘condescendingly’ put down what I dedicate a pretty fair old chunk of my time, effort and resources towards, wouldn’t it? It doesn’t follow that because I don’t believe in salvaging items from the Titanic I therefore don’t believe the era worthy of study.

To me, they do. They make Titanic's victims become three-dimensional people and not some list of impersonal names in the appendix of a book. They provide a fuller, richer picture of what the experience of this ship was really like, that fills in the voids that before only our imaginations could ponder. And that is important to preserve so that the Titanic one day just doesn't become a collection of murky photographs and incomplete secondary works.

This is what I mean by the fundamentally subjective and emotional aspect of this debate. To you that is what these items embody. To me they embody a violation and an intrusion. How can either of us be proved right or wrong on what is a subjective response?

Wrong. The Titanic was the ultimate precursor to the loss of faith in progress that World War I made complete. That is something that no 20th century scholar would underestimate.

I disagree utterly with your flat statement. I am a ‘20th century scholar’, and I believe that many others (certainly those in the History faculty at my old Uni) regard Titanic as a footnote, and as such is she treated in academic texts covering the era. She was one of a succession of events that coloured the pre-war mood (the Scott expedition is another such episode). However, because we are involved in researching this event, we tend to lose a wider historical perspective on this disaster. Interesting, yes. Culturally enduring, yes. Historically seminal, no. I note, by the way, that you were very selective in quoting me on this point. I acknowledged the ship’s importance in cultural consciousness, noting that the Titanic “was an event of great cultural impact, but I don't think it significantly impacted on the course of 20th Century human affairs”. I stand by that view.

It seems to me though, that here are you trying to continue an argument that was settled 15 years ago when the first artifacts were recovered, and this is another reason why I find anti-salvor thought to be more than a bit tiresome.

Eric, I find the Pro-Salvage view that simply because salvage is already a fait accompli those opposed to the concept should condone it either by silence or by working with the pro-Sal lobby equally ‘tiresome’. There is a principle at stake for me that I believe in every bit as passionately as you believe in your point of view. I will not relinquish it simply because it does not accord with your view or the pro-salvage view. Those who campaigned for the preservation of war wrecks from further salvage finally won their day — they serve as an inspiration to people like myself.

"My own personal view is that a far more appropriate ending would be to leave her and all she encompasses where she is, to gradually dissolve."

I have not one drop of sympathy for that point of view. I regard it as irresponsible in the extreme and I regard it as the kind of thinking that has caused so much of our recent past to be destroyed senselessly.


Obviously you have not one drop of sympathy. Given your entrenched attitude, it’s quite apparent to me now that you are so narrow in your own viewpoint that you cannot concede that beliefs that run counter to your own can possibly have any legitimacy.

And I ultimately regard it as an attitude that demeans the importance of Titanic. And I reject utterly this false premise about the "majority" of those connected with the disaster when the record indicates otherwise. Appealing to survivor sentiment when the record shows a division in ranks is not valid.

What record? What poll? I have spoken solely of those I have encountered in my research (none of whom, by the way, were ever polled by the pro-salvage lobby, so presumably they are not counted in your assessment). Where is the ‘record’ that shows otherwise? Where is the statistical breakdown of opinion among the families of those connected with the Titanic disaster that supports sweeping generalizations like the one you made in this thread that views were ’50-50’? I think it is very valid to refer to these views, as they cut to the heart of some of the issues we’re discussing here. Simply because there was ‘division in the ranks’ does not somehow mean that these standpoints cancel each other out, particularly when the pro-salvage lobby often cite survivors of family members who support the idea of salvage. The flip side of the coin is just as valid.

"You've dodged my point. I was addressing your sweeping generalisations about those who take a strong anti-salvage position."

I can only go from firsthand experience, and the stories I could tell you privately would be quite revealing. And when that is added to a track record of deliberate misinformation from a man who has been canonized for far too long, I begin to detect a general trend that is hard for me to shake.


Likewise, I can privately share stories about the pro-salvage lobbyists that would be quite revealing. However, I refuse to tar all those who are pro-salvage with the same dark brush.

"The ones most upset it seems are Robert Ballard and a peculiar group of modern Titanic buffs who have track records that rival if not exceed the worst behavior RMSTI has at times engaged in."

And I stand by those remarks, because in the case of Robert Ballard, I go by a documented track record of his words and deeds, and that also applies to all of the anti-salvor people I have had dealings with in the past with only a few exceptions to the rule. I am willing to concede your status in the exception to the rule category, but I have yet to see any evidence that anti-salvor thought in general has openly condemned or repudiated the despicable conduct engaged in by the people I have in mind.


I’m sorry your experience with the pro-salvage lobby has been so different to my own. Most of those whose views are like mine are hardworking researchers or those who had family on the ship. Many of the latter are not aware — nor do they give a damn — about what happens in the insular word of the Titanic community.

"I disagree most emphatically that taking photographs of a cemetary, such as Changi, in any way equates to violating a grave."

If you open the headstone to gawk at the contents it is. And the counterpart to Titanic would be diving down to the bottom to gawk at her furnishings. Visiting the gravesite would mean staying on the surface above the wreck.


No it wouldn’t. As I said, I believe the Titanic is her own memorial — much like a headstone. Visiting the gravesite with respect, on ground or the surface - means looking but not damaging or taking (one can touch a headstone without digging down to the coffin).

But if its okay for an elite few in million dollar submersibles to gawk at the Titanic and her artifacts, then there is absolutely no difference when other people who will never be able to do that in their lives see the same objects in a museum.

I don’t believe the comparison holds. Visiting a gravesite does not involve appropriate the objects it contains.

And if anti-salvor thought is to ever be consistent about their supposed concerned for the sacrosanct status of Titanic, they'll advocate an end to all dives on the wreck and allow that beloved rotting process to continue unhindered.

Once again — we’re talking about subjective opinion, and mine differs from yours. I’ve visited families with photographs of memorials and headstones connected with their lost relatives from around the world. They didn’t need to take objects from the graves to make the connection more ‘three dimensional’, however.

"(I can't visit Gettysburg as often as I'd like)."

But when you do visit it, it doesn't cost you a million dollars to dive on it. And when you visit it, you are seeing it in a context with your own senses.


Unlike if I saw a perfectly mundane object like a teacup or a toothbrush, removed from its current context and put on display. Like the suitcases of the Salem Express, let them remain where they lie.
 

Eric Paddon

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Jun 4, 2002
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"Then do you see no difference between the investigation of an Ancient Egyptian tomb and the investigation of a modern graveyard?"

For an historic shipwreck, the answer is no, I do not see a fundamental difference whether the ship is ancient or modern. And since no one condemned Peter Gimbel ripping out the Andrea Doria safe in 1981 (especially no one from today's anti-salvor camp), and no one condemned the recovery of objects from the Lusitania, I see no reason to treat the Titanic any differently.

"so I assume that you believe **all** wrecks should be accessible. The Arizona,"

The Arizona already is accessible to the public, who can see it for themselves with their own eyes, and we have had artifacts removed for display in the past such as the anchors (recall that the superstructure needed to be cut away to clear the channel in 1942). The Titanic at the bottom of the ocean is not accessible to the public, and hence merits recovery and preservation because of that critical difference.

"Do you also believe that the British Government should revoke their protection of war wrecks as war graves?"

Considering that the American government is permitting the recovery of objects from the Monitor which involved the actual disturbing of human remains, I don't see much of a particular need to adopt a don't ever recover one object period mentality for any shipwreck.

"What I have found objectionable — and equally abominable - is that the views of those I have consulted (and these have been overwhelmingly of the opinion that the wreck is a gravesite and should be left unsalvaged) have in many instances been dismissed or downplayed by the pro-salvage lobby."

I'm sorry, but to me it's the opposite, in that anti-salvors refuse to acknowledge the fact that there were survivors who favored salvage. And the difference is that pro-salvors have never attempted to paint a false picture of uniformity in survivor sentiment toward one perspective on salvage, which is what the anti-salvor lobby from Robert Ballard on down has been doing since 1985 (though curiously that didn't stop Ballard from making his bizarre deviation supporting artifact recovery in his 1985 Congressional testimony, which to this day he refuses to be truthful or candid about).

"This is not a ‘red herring’ as I don’t believe that their views cancel each other out."

Then we are at an impasse, because I believe it does cancel each other out. If survivor sentiment can see both sides of the issue then the merits of salvage or not to salvage must be made from other considerations.

"However, I can further my research through both private and public documents and archives without recourse to salvaging an accident-cum-gravesite."

To each their own. I feel that had I not seen the artifacts with my own eyes, the Titanic would remain to this day an impersonal object, and her victims impersonal names in dry text.

"Well, you’re not going to be able to preserve the Titanic in any sort of intact state…!!!"

No, but we can preserve more of her than for any other famous liner of her day, and the best part is being able to keep it in one collection rather than scatter the surviving pieces off to private collectors. The Titanic's remains are far more important than an intact ancient ship ever will be IMO.

"My opposition to salvage does not stem from 'chronological snobbery'"

Your arguments however keep borrowing from chronological snobbery's very definition, in which "gravesites" lose their sacrosanct quality only when time has elapsed and society becomes collectively ignorant about the event, and the value of trivial items from the more ancient past that are of little interest to myself are given a higher value for the purpose of history solely because of their age.

"More WSL china? We can buy it on ebay"

Ah yes, let only the private collectors with expensive bank accounts be the ones who can see these objects that pale in real historical value because they don't come from Titanic itself, and let those items that are connected with an important historical event just rot.

"This material is by no means unique."

Titanic material *is* unique by my definition, because it's the association of these objects with a great moment in history providing a window to us as valuable as any time capsule waiting to be rediscovered to bring to life the ship and her people again in three dimensions.

"You’re still making assumptions and generalizations about ‘anti-salvor’ thought"

Again, I can only base my impressions based on personal experience with those championing such views.

"It would be rather odd, wouldn’t it, for me to ‘condescendingly’ put down what I dedicate a pretty fair old chunk of my time, effort and resources towards, wouldn’t it?"

That in a nutshell explains why I've never understood the anti-salvor mindset of running down the Titanic's value to future generation, and I know I never will undestand it, because yes it does strike me as odd. But then again, merely thinking that line of thought odd isn't the same as being told my opinions come from being on the take from the salvors, or that I must have some unnatural fondness for George Tulloch (and you will not believe how many times I had to hear garbage like that) among other epithets I had to endure.

"How can either of us be proved right or wrong on what is a subjective response?"

In my case, it's looking to precedence to explain my opinions, and in the case of salvaging artifacts from historical shipwrecks, there is no precedent for anti-salvor thought being so vociferously advocated despite ample opportunities to have done so in the past with ships where lives were lost, but objects recovered with not a peep from anyone. That's when the aura of objective analysis in trying to understand a point of view starts to intrude.

"Interesting, yes. Culturally enduring, yes. Historically seminal, no."

Depends on your definition of "historically seminal". To me, Titanic is more than just a famous shipwreck because of the larger connotations of shattering the cultural perceptions of a generation on the eve before a Great War would do away with them for good. At any rate, if we can view it as essential to preserve the building where John F. Kennedy was shot from (which has turned into far more of a haven for garish sideshow displays than the Titanic exhibition ever has or will be), or to preserve pieces of the Hindenburg wreckage in the Smithsonian, we can certainly do no less for the 20th century's greatest disaster.

"I note, by the way, that you were very selective in quoting me on this point."

I didn't see it that way. But then again, I noticed no response to my points about the lack of anti-salvor objection to what's been done with other shipwrecks, or the fact that the remains associated with the Holocaust have been preserved with no objection, which get to the heart of how the precepts of anti-salvor thought have strangely been applied to only one thing, the Titanic.

"Eric, I find the Pro-Salvage view that simply because salvage is already a fait accompli those opposed to the concept should condone it either by silence or by working with the pro-Sal lobby equally ‘tiresome’. There is a principle at stake for me"

Excuse me, but to achieve what, ultimately? The total destruction of everything that has been recovered? To continue condoning the outrageous and despicable tactics of anti-salvor extremists that have included attempts to deceive and spread false information about the expeditions for the purpose of demonizing them and making them look bad? For the purpose of maintaining a poisoned atmosphere rather than a spirt of cooperation in the ranks of Titanic buffs? This is the only thing I see happening because of this fight for "principle" and to me it smacks more of the Japanese soldier on Guam still fighting World War II then a meaningful fight for something that can be accomplished. Why is a simple act of cooperation and trying to work for a common good of seeing the best thing happen to what's been recovered so hard for anti-salvors to contemplate?

"Obviously you have not one drop of sympathy. Given your entrenched attitude, it’s quite apparent to me now that you are so narrow in your own viewpoint that you cannot concede that beliefs that run counter to your own can possibly have any legitimacy."

Maybe it's just that I have seen too many people in the anti-salvor camp from Robert Ballard on down form their viewpoints from too much that is illegitimate. But believe me, when you get subjected to the abuse I was subjected to for many years for simply expressing my contrary view, the only thing that can inevitably result is a jaded view of "principles" underlying those on the other side.

"What record? What poll? I have spoken solely of those I have encountered in my research"

You left out Louise Pope, Beatrice Sandstrom, Frank Aks for starters. Are their views illegitimate? Do we totally disregard this element of survivor thought? I say it shouldn't be ignored, but neither should it be the catch-all justification for my side of the issue.

"Likewise, I can privately share stories about the pro-salvage lobbyists that would be quite revealing. However, I refuse to tar all those who are pro-salvage with the same dark brush."

Maybe we need to trade stories privately sometime, because I find it very hard to believe that what I got subjected to has been duplicated in return. And too often, the truth of this disgusting conduct on the part of such leading anti-salvors in smearing my reputation was blithely ignored by so many people because they didn't want to put themselves in the position of condemning the conduct of someone in the anti-salvor ranks.

"No it wouldn’t. As I said, I believe the Titanic is her own memorial — much like a headstone. Visiting the gravesite with respect, on ground or the surface - means looking but not damaging or taking (one can touch a headstone without digging down to the coffin)."

To me, that's opening the coffin and gawking, which is voyeurism. As far as I'm concerned, put an end to all dives and stop wasting money so a handful of elitists can go down in their expensive toys to gawk if the people are to be denied the opportunity to see those same objects themselves with their own eyes. That is simply anti-salvor thought carried to its logical conclusion.

"Like the suitcases of the Salem Express, let them remain where they lie."

The subject was rendered moot in 1987. It is now up to the anti-salvors to end the poisoned atmosphere they bear responsibility for creating, and move on and work within the real world that exists. The "untouched memorial" option no longer applies (thankfully) and unless there's a constructive goal in mind for anti-salvors beyond their wish to destroy what has been recovered, then I still see only the Japanese sailor on Guam fighting a pointless battle.
 

Eric Paddon

Member
Jun 4, 2002
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Right now, the History Channel special "Relics From The Rubble" is offering a valuable insight into what historians can even glean from 9/11 objects that have been sifted through. Finding inside a collapsed beam among all things, a 1969 copy of the New York Times that a worker during the original construction project had placed inside the beam before it was fixed into place, providing a window into the life of the WTC itself when it was built.

That kind of story is more fascinating to me than any ancient counterpart ever could be. Even as my grief over the tragedy of 9/11 is as great as anyone else's (my connections to this tragedy include a cousin who narrowly escaped with his life from the 82nd floor of Tower One, and my college classmate Todd Beamer on Flight #93), what a disservice to the victims, if we don't at least take the opportunity to go through the remains and one day provide a dignified museum setting that will allow future generations to keep remembering what this meant.

With history already performing its duty for the remains of the World Trade Center, why can we do no less for the Titanic?
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Feb 9, 1999
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"Then do you see no difference between the investigation of an Ancient Egyptian tomb and the investigation of a modern graveyard?"

For an historic shipwreck, the answer is no

That wasn't my question. I was asking about consistency in approach and methodology. If all life, as you stated, is equally sacred to you and you demand consistency in how we conduct excavations, then do you believe that modern cemeteries should be as open to exploration as ancient tombs? Your application of the "chronological snobbery" argument would suggest that both should be either equally closed or equally open. I note that you added the qualifier 'historic' shipwreck. Is this so you deliberately exclude vessels such as the Salem Express? I'd say it's chronologically snobbish of
you to do so...

I do not see a fundamental difference whether the ship is ancient or modern. And since no one condemned Peter Gimbel ripping out the Andrea Doria safe in 1981 (especially no one from today's anti-salvor camp), and no one condemned the recovery of objects from the Lusitania, I see no reason to treat the Titanic any differently.

Well, no one asked me...I'd extend the same level of protection to recent wrecks be they the Salem Express or the Yongala, the Lusitania or the Empress of Ireland. I have, by the way, raised my objections to the salvage of items from war graves / wrecks in letters to dive publications when the salvage debate was raging there (every bit as heated, I might add, as any Titanic discussion!).

"so I assume that you believe **all** wrecks should be accessible. The Arizona,"

The Arizona already is accessible to the public, who can see it for themselves with their own eyes, and we have had artifacts removed for display in the past such as the anchors (recall that the superstructure needed to be cut away to clear the channel in 1942). The Titanic at the bottom of the ocean is not accessible to the public, and hence merits recovery and preservation because of that critical difference.


Interesting to note you deliberately selected the first of my examples and excluded the others. By 'accessible' I mean 'accessible to salvage and display efforts', i.e. such as those utilized on the Titanic. Naturally war wrecks come under different laws of salvage to civilian laws, but - on a point of ethics rather than law - in theory, should we make the effort to remove as many objects as possible from the Arizona? Or the SS Yongala? Obviously practical considerations have to be taken into account (i.e. when a wreck causes an obstruction), just as one needs to remove the remains of an accident. However, in some instances (the Salem Express, the Titanic) it proved not practicable to remove either the wreck or human remains. In these cases, an accident site is also a grave site.

"Do you also believe that the British Government should revoke their protection of war wrecks as war graves?"

Considering that the American government is permitting the recovery of objects from the Monitor which involved the actual disturbing of human remains, I don't see much of a particular need to adopt a don't ever recover one object period mentality for any shipwreck.


That's not the thrust of the legislation - it does not prevent 'don't ever recover one object period mentality for any shipwreck'. It pertains to wrecks that are war graves, and is aimed at facilitating the wishes of survivors groups and preventing the removal of objects that has, in the past, been fairly rapacious. For the sake of consistency, however, by your arguments these WWI and II wrecks should be open for salvage. I do believe that there are instances when it is justifiable in terms of archaeology to remove items from a wreck - that of the Mary Rose, for example. Her dead received proper burial, as - I understand - will the Hunley's. But as we've discussed before, our ideas on what constitute a legitimate archaeological site differ. Few would object to an ancient tomb being excavated. Many would object to a modern graveyard being picked over.

I'm sorry, but to me it's the opposite, in that anti-salvors refuse to acknowledge the fact that there were survivors who favored salvage. And the difference is that pro-salvors have never attempted to paint a false picture of uniformity in survivor sentiment toward one perspective on salvage

Well, there we go - our experiences have been utterly different. Nor is it true to make a sweeping generalization about the pro-salvors attempting to 'paint a false picture of uniformity'...for example, I myself on this board have brought up the example of Harold W G Lowe's indifference and belief that his father would have been likewise indifferent on the subject. Please state where I have ever claimed that there was uniform opinion.

Then we are at an impasse, because I believe it does cancel each other out. If survivor sentiment can see both sides of the issue then the merits of salvage or not to salvage must be made from other considerations.

I disagree that it adds up to a simple equation - all we'd have to do would be to poll each and every one of the families and see which view was the majority. One positive outcome of our discussion on this point is that I've realized that many people are unaware of the strong feelings some of the families of those connected with the disaster have on this subject - you yourself ignored them in your characterization of those who have strong anti-salvage feelings (in the comment that prompted me to post in this thread), choosing instead to state that those opposed to salvage were a 'peculiar' group. Many of these individuals are very private, distain the circus-like hype surrounding the event, and do not choose to interact with the Titanic societies. I am, however, going to attempt to persuade some of them to put their views on record. I have an interview tentatively arranged for later this month, to form the basis of an article. Although the salvage debate is not particularly pertinent to the piece I was writing, I'll see if the woman I'm interviewing is willing to put on the record the views she has stated to me publicly. Sadly, however, I know of one instance when a relative of one of those who perished - without revealing or referring to his own relationship to the officer in question - posted in an on-line forum (not this one) in response to a question as to why there were people who opposed salvage. He mistook the question for a genuine attempt to understand the opposition to salvage - unfortunately, it was more in the line of a rhetorical device and he found his own arguments (based on emotion, personal ethics and methodology) dismissed out of hand with a blank stone wall of incomprehension and a denial that any other point of view than that of the original writer could possibly be legitimate.

"However, I can further my research through both private and public documents and archives without recourse to salvaging an accident-cum-gravesite."

To each their own. I feel that had I not seen the artifacts with my own eyes, the Titanic would remain to this day an impersonal object, and her victims impersonal names in dry text.


I'm afraid that all I take from the salvaged items is a deep feeling of revulsion, much as I would if they were suitcases taken from a car crash on the M22.

Your arguments however keep borrowing from chronological snobbery's very definition, in which "gravesites" lose their sacrosanct quality only when time has elapsed and society becomes collectively ignorant about the event, and the value of trivial items from the more ancient past that are of little interest to myself are given a higher value for the purpose of history solely because of their age.

No, they don't. They stem from a system that places value upon objects not based upon their age, but on how much they instruct us about the civilization that formed them. By your logic, in which to define an object's value to us both historically and archaeologically by either age or scarcity is 'chronological snobbishness', a plastic 1970s cup or a 1912 teacup is of the same value as an Egyptian alabaster vase.

"More WSL china? We can buy it on ebay"

Ah yes, let only the private collectors with expensive bank accounts be the ones who can see these objects that pale in real historical value because they don't come from Titanic itself, and let those items that are connected with an important historical event just rot.


Once again you have sawn one of my lines in half to twist its meaning. I went on to state that there are public examples of these objects (and now the NMM is free, you don't even have to pay admission). Or you can view them for free in a dealer's shop - no purchase necessary. Of course, access to the items in the exhibition is only open to those who have the money to pay for admission.

Titanic material *is* unique by my definition, because it's the association of these objects with a great moment in history providing a window to us as valuable as any time capsule waiting to be rediscovered to bring to life the ship and her people again in three dimensions.

Not by my definition. A WSL teacup, whether it served a long and useful life on the Celtic or went down on its maiden voyage, is still the same teacup. I simply don't think the invested, subjective meaning - the intangible resonance of catastrophe - justifies its removal from the wreck site. I recognize, of course, that for you it does. So here we have another impasse - how do you propose we apply an objective criteria to what are our subjective emotional responses?

"You're still making assumptions and generalizations about 'anti-salvor' thought"

Again, I can only base my impressions based on personal experience with those championing such views.


Still scratching my head over this one - there doesn't seem to have been too much overlap in our personal experiences of the different camps!

"It would be rather odd, wouldn't it, for me to 'condescendingly' put down what I dedicate a pretty fair old chunk of my time, effort and resources towards, wouldn't it?"

That in a nutshell explains why I've never understood the anti-salvor mindset of running down the Titanic's value to future generation, and I know I never will understand it, because yes it does strike me as odd. But then again, merely thinking that line of thought odd isn't the same as being told my opinions come from being on the take from the salvors, or that I must have some unnatural fondness for George Tulloch (and you will not believe how many times I had to hear garbage like that) among other epithets I had to endure.


You seem to be basing your opinions of the anti-salvage thought entirely on those you've had bitter confrontations with in the past. But tell me, have I ever subjected you to personal vitriol? Have I ever suggested that you're madly passionate about Tulloch? I've copped a few epithets in my time as well, but that doesn't mean I'll you by the conduct of those individuals. I've been raw in the past (and some folks, who simply honestly disagreed with me, have copped the fallout from that rawness resulting from previous attacks), but I'm quite keen on moving beyond that and taking some of the bitterness out of this discussion. I've been moved to do so because, while I've met some ferocious (and, in at least once case, I fear mentally unstable) individuals who will stoop to any means to promote their pro-salvage ideals, I've also met and interacted with some truly top people who are pro-sal. I've always - even in the most heated of exchanges - tried to acknowledge these individuals, some of them personal friends and colleagues to whom I much. Further experience has introduced me to folks who, while they're as passionately opposed to me as I am to them on the principles of this subject, are thoroughly decent, compassionate and intelligent human beings.

And no, you won't ever understand my point of view, because to you it's 'running down the Titanic's value'. To me, it's a case of respecting a gravesite...and that respect takes precedence over what I feel is the gratification of intrusive curiousity. I understand your point of view, of course - I simply don't share it.

"How can either of us be proved right or wrong on what is a subjective response?"

In my case, it's looking to precedence to explain my opinions, and in the case of salvaging artifacts from historical shipwrecks, there is no precedent for anti-salvor thought being so vociferously advocated despite ample opportunities to have done so in the past with ships where lives were lost, but objects recovered with not a peep from anyone. That's when the aura of objective analysis in trying to understand a point of view starts to intrude.


Titanic takes a place prominent in our consciousness because of the scale of the death toll and her place in popular culture and contemporary mythology.

However, if it makes you feel any better, I can tell you now that I am equally opposed to salvaging artifacts from recent wrecks such as the Salem Express, the Yongala, or any war wreck/grave site. In several (possibly all, but I don't know the finer legal points in these instances) of these cases, protection to them as gravesites is extended. You might not be aware of it because it didn't receive such publicity (and I doubt in particular if it received much media over the pond), but the removal of items from warships on which loss of life occurred has been a furious ongoing debate here in the UK among scuba divers, salvors and veterans groups. Many of the arguments ran along similar lines to those followed in the Titanic debate. The legislation was only recently passed.

Depends on your definition of "historically seminal". To me, Titanic is more than just a famous shipwreck because of the larger connotations of shattering the cultural perceptions of a generation on the eve before a Great War would do away with them for good.

Well, there we go - we're still viewing it from different perspectives. I feel strongly that Titanic's cultural significance, as I stated earlier, far outweighs her impact on historical events. She might have shaken the pre-war mood (which was by no means as optimistic and complacent as is sometimes suggested from an oversimplified post 2 WW perspective), but what sort of impact did she have on the course of history in the 20th Century? A negligible one, I strongly believe. That's why she's treated by most historians as a footnote. Jack the Ripper had (and has) a tremendous impact on popular consciousness, and haunts our collective psyche. Historically, however, his impact on the 19th Century was largely limited to the introduction of gas lighting in certain areas of London that didn't have it before.

I didn't see it that way.

I did.

But then again, I noticed no response to my points about the lack of anti-salvor objection to what's been done with other shipwrecks, or the fact that the remains associated with the Holocaust have been preserved with no objection, which get to the heart of how the precepts of anti-salvor thought have strangely been applied to only one thing, the Titanic.

Well, I've already answered your point re 'what's been done with other shipwrecks' above, but let me just state again. I am as opposed to the salvage of recent wrecks such as the Yongala, the Salem Express, the Empress of Ireland and the Lusitania as I am to the salvage of the Titanic.

The Holocaust is a momentous event that transcends this argument. It was not an accident, a large-scale loss of life in a transportation disaster. It was a series of acts of monstrous proportions. It is the survivors themselves that choose to commemorate this event with the display of items, such as shoes, and photos of the victims of the camps. Anyone who formed a private company aimed at retrieving and mounting traveling exhibitions of Holocaust items might find they met resistance, however. 'Holocaust Inc' has an alarming ring to it.

Excuse me, but to achieve what, ultimately? The total destruction of everything that has been recovered?

If it were up to me, and were practicable, I would return the items from where the came from. I would certainly cease efforts to remove more. However, I recognize the point you're making, realize you have a legitimate question, and address it below.

To continue condoning the outrageous and despicable tactics of anti-salvor extremists that have included attempts to deceive and spread false information about the expeditions for the purpose of demonizing them and making them look bad?

I take the greatest exception to your comment that I 'condone' any actions that would be promote the dissemination of 'false information'. Please cite any instance where I have done so.

For the purpose of maintaining a poisoned atmosphere rather than a spirit of cooperation in the ranks of Titanic buffs?

I will not condone by cooperation or silence a practice personally abhorrent to me. However, it certainly does not follow that by continuing to oppose salvage I am 'maintaining a poisoned atmosphere'. It is those who refuse to acknowledge the other side's right to their own point of view as well as those (on both sides) who have resorted to directly nefarious tactics who have turned this discussion acrimonious. Far from working in a 'poisoned atmosphere', I have enjoyed excellent relationships with many in the pro-salvage lobby. I bear no rancour towards those who honestly differ with me on this subject. You, on the other hand, seem to believe that the only way to eliminate the 'poisoned atmosphere' is to silence those whose views differ from your own, or induce them to 'cooperate' with your vision.

This is the only thing I see happening because of this fight for "principle" and to me it smacks more of the Japanese soldier on Guam still fighting World War II then a meaningful fight for something that can be accomplished. Why is a simple act of cooperation and trying to work for a common good of seeing the best thing happen to what's been recovered so hard for anti-salvors to contemplate?

Because you underestimate the depth of my feeling on this subject. You do not comprehend - or choose not to comprehend - that my views are every bit as heartfelt and passionate as your own. It was long and bitter, but in the end legislation was achieved protecting the war wrecks/graves.

You do, however, raise a legitimate and practical question - one which I've been mulling over since you brought it up. What do we do with the items already salvaged? My own personal preference would be to return to the site where they came from. However, I'm far from pollyannish enough to believe that this would happen. Nor will they be simply be stored away indefinitely. It is inevitable (although anathema to me) that they will continue to be displayed...or dispersed to private collectors. From my own point of view, I'm therefore presented with a dilemma. The current situation of uncertainty (which I feel was virtually inevitably the end result of the practice of salvage, but that's another argument) is not one which the anti-salvage movement has brought about. However, the problem exists, and has to be addressed.

Returning them is not practical. The deeper RMST Inc's troubles run, the more the possibility of the items winding up on the auction block or private saleroom increases. I think the undesirability of this is one point most of us would agree on (although the spectrum of viewpoints on salvage runs the full gamut, and I know some individuals who have expressed the strong desire to see these items put up for sale). The cost of mounting and maintaining traveling exhibits is prohibitive. However, the most favoured solution - either a purpose-built museum or an existing one - presents practical difficulties as well. There's considerable redundancy in the items retrieved - there are only so many teacups the public needs to see at any given time. Would any museum wish put the resources into conserving and storing items not on display? And what is to be their final fate? Will the collection be distributed among many museums? And by what mechanisms will RMS Inc hand over these items? As they're responsible to shareholders, how do they intend to recoup their expenses or at least limit their losses? I'm open to suggestions, be they from the pro- or anti- side of the fence.

Contemplating the future of the salvaged items may be seen by some on the pro-side as in someway condoning the practice of salvage or conceding it was right to retrieve these items in the first place. Not so - I remain as adamantly opposed to the concept as ever (and, needless to say, will not be visiting the items wherever they may wind up). When you're caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, some compromise of ideals is necessary - and hell, even Mick Collins could sign the 1922 Anglo-Irish Treaty
happy.gif


Compromise is sometimes necessary, but it brings no change to my oft - expressed personal wish (to nick a line from Lincoln) that the Titanic might be spared further depredations.

Of course, I remained absolutely and utterly opposed to the retrieval of further objects, and on this point I will continue to fight. The idea that 'they'll accept it once the practice is in place' is one familiar to anyone with more than a passing interest in politics, but simply because the idea of salvage has been implemented doesn't justify it, make it right, or mean that we have to throw up our hands and throw in the towel - I'll continue to oppose whoever wants to go down there and pick over the bones.

Maybe it's just that I have seen too many people in the anti-salvor camp from Robert Ballard on down form their viewpoints from too much that is illegitimate. But believe me, when you get subjected to the abuse I was subjected to for many years for simply expressing my contrary view, the only thing that can inevitably result is a jaded view of "principles" underlying those on the other side.

But you're talking to me - not to Ballard or any other nemesis. You're not fighting a war with them - you're discussing this issue with me. Please see me as an individual and a researcher and don't lump me in with those you loathe. I deserve - and expect - the courtesy of being treated as a rational human being with opinions that, although they differ from your own, are just as heartfelt.

"What record? What poll? I have spoken solely of those I have encountered in my research"

You left out Louise Pope, Beatrice Sandstrom, Frank Aks for starters. Are their views illegitimate? Do we totally disregard this element of survivor thought? I say it shouldn't be ignored, but neither should it be the catch-all justification for my side of the issue.


I was actually speaking of people I have personally encountered in my research - those individuals connected with the disaster and its victims that I have spoken with and interviewed. I have not met any of the above you name. Of course I haven't ignored them, but my comments were directed at the fact that - with one exception - those I have met and interacted with are opposed to salvage. At no point did I claim this was representative of the across the board sentiment - indeed, I wouldn't venture a guess as to what that was. You, however, made the unsupported statement that opinion was '50/50' or that it was 'on the record' that it was untrue the majority were opposed to salvage. By what authority do you make these statements? Have you conducted a poll? Who was included? Please cite your sources. As far as I am aware, there has been no comprehensive study that would allow anyone to support a claim that opinion was evenly divided.

Maybe we need to trade stories privately sometime, because I find it very hard to believe that what I got subjected to has been duplicated in return. And too often, the truth of this disgusting conduct on the part of such leading anti-salvors in smearing my reputation was blithely ignored by so many people because they didn't want to put themselves in the position of condemning the conduct of someone in the anti- alvor ranks.

Well, I'm up for it! I'd be happy to trade war stories with you some time - a pub is as good a neutral ground as any. Have done so on many occasions, and once spent a good day in NY being teased without respite by a v. pro-sal friend on my views on this subject. I hold very strongly to the position that ideas may contend, but men need not.

To me, that's opening the coffin and gawking, which is voyeurism. As far as I'm concerned, put an end to all dives and stop wasting money so a handful of elitists can go down in their expensive toys to gawk if the people are to be denied the opportunity to see those same objects themselves with their own eyes. That is simply anti-salvor thought carried to its logical conclusion.

No, I disagree (and 'gawking' is an emotive term, one which could equally be applied to those who go to see salvaged items). I still hold to my 'graveyard' analogy. I am not, by the way, overly keen on tourist dives, although I do know of a couple of absolutely sterling blokes who have been fortunate enough to dive to the wreck (not multi-millionaires, by the way - they were there by other means).

"Like the suitcases of the Salem Express, let them remain where they lie."

The subject was rendered moot in 1987. It is now up to the anti-salvors to end the poisoned atmosphere they bear responsibility for creating

While there are still items on the sea floor, it is not 'moot' at all. I utterly and totally reject your decision to place the blame for the bitterness about this debate on the shoulders of one side. Individuals on both sides have acted reprehensibly, and for you to cast the blame on one lot can only lead to ill-feeling. I know it is untrue because I bear the scars as well - inflicted by those on the other side. Your own refusal to even acknowledge the legitimacy of anyone's opinion when it differs from your own underlines how such a debate can devolve into a 'poisonous atmosphere'. You seem to be nursing your grievances and cherishing your rancour against those you feel have wronged you. Although I have been no party to any of these incidents, nor does my stance derive from anything said or done Robert Ballard, you insist on lumping me in with those you've fought bloody battles with on other fields. This is not condusive to reasoned, responsible debate. I won't be arguing a reciprocal case based on my own negative experiences with the pro-salvage contingent - I'll just continue to work alongside colleagues and friends, both pro and anti-salvage, respecting that - as in other aspects - this involves matters of opinion and not fact, and some of our opinions differ. Give it a try - if I can work past the injuries of the past, so can you. Positions on salvage, like the individuals who participate, run a tremendous spectrum. I know of those who would be very happy if everything was brought up and sold off to the highest bidder. At the other end, there are those who would prohibit any expedition to the wreck at all. Most of us fit somewhere between these two sides - there are not two complete and coherent polarities to this debate, there are infinite shades of gray. Although I too have used the terms 'pro' and 'anti' salvage as if there were two clear-cut camps, it is grossly reductive and simplistic for us to do so. Likewise with the people involved - they ran the range of human character and conduct. I most certainly do not cede the high moral ground in conduct to those in favour of salvage, as to do so would be a gross insult to colleagues for which I have the highest respect and also to those people I know who had family on board and who, although on the anti-salvage end of the spectrum, most certainly are not responsible for any 'poison' here. As I read those words, I could not help but think of some of these dignified, decent, ethical people...they most certainly do not deserve to be subjected to the characterizations you have thrust upon them in this discussion.

The "untouched memorial" option no longer applies (thankfully) and unless there's a constructive goal in mind for anti-salvors beyond their wish to destroy what has been recovered, then I still see only the Japanese sailor on Guam fighting a pointless battle.

Of course, this depends on how you define 'constructive'. I'll have to bring your Guam analogy up the next time I'm with some of the people I mentioned above. I'll be doing so when I meet up again with the closest living relative of one of the Titanic's officers within the next month - she has a delicious sense of humour, and will no doubt be highly entertained at this characterization of people like herself. Your analogy, however, does not hold (and the fact that you see me, by your own admission, only in those terms indicates how deep your inability to grasp and appreciate my point of view runs). There has been no surrender - the war is far from over, and I am far from alone. The idea of dedication to an ideal might seem alien to you, but it's very much a part of who I am. It is a dedication to the ethics and principles that I hold dear. To relinquish them because someone told me it was a lost cause would be a betrayal of self. Protection has come for some wrecks long after they'd first been picked over by salvors...
 

Eric Paddon

Member
Jun 4, 2002
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I was 90 percent through with a detailed reply that took me a half hour to write when my computer chose to play a dirty trick on me and crash wiping out everything I wrote. For now, I am only able to focus on a few parts and will get back to the other items later since I have to leave soon for the night.

"That wasn't my question. I was asking about consistency in approach and methodology."

I answered your question. This issue is about historic shipwrecks, not common gravesites. The issue never has been about gravesites in general, its about ships of historic significance that involved loss of life. Turning this into a discussion regarding gravesites in general is just another case of the red herring by my definition.

"Is this so you deliberately exclude vessels such as the Salem Express?"

I've never heard of that ship and I can't comment on things I don't know the details about. There is no deception involved.

"Well, no one asked me..."

The opportunity was there for Robert Ballard, the Titanic Historical Society etc. to register their opinions at the time, and they chose not to do so.
For quite a long time, anti-salvor thinking has shown a strange propensity to confine its passion to Titanic only and seemingly exempt all other ships from these standards they wish to apply.

"Interesting to note you deliberately selected the first of my examples and excluded the others."

I again comment on what I can speak with authority about. The Arizona doesn't fit your criteria because objects have already been recovered since 1942 and the duty for museum preservation has been fulfilled. And since the Arizona is in a location where people can see it themselves with their own eyes, it isn't comparable to Titanic anymore than Gettysburg is. So long as Titanic can only be seen by an elite few in a submersible, it never will be comparable to these examples.

"That's not the thrust of the legislation - it does not prevent 'don't ever recover one object period mentality for any shipwreck'"

Excuse me, but the don't recover one object period is the mentality that I associate with anti-salvor thinking. I think what you keep getting confused with when it comes to my perspective is that what I call "salvage" does not necessarily mean taking up everything there is from a wreck, it means simply fulfilling the responsibility to history by preserving something and depending on the wreck itself there can be limits set to how much is taken. Even in the case of the Edmund Fitzgerald, the bell was ultimately removed to serve that purpose for history.

"For the sake of consistency, however, by your arguments these WWI and II wrecks should be open for salvage."

For the recovery of certain objects for museum settings, yes. For commercial sale, no. I believe when we find the USS Yorktown, we should recover her bell for display as an item that serves a purpose for history and long-term preservation and that doesn't mean you have to take every single thing up.

"Many would object to a modern graveyard being picked over."

Titanic though is not a graveyard and never has been. It is an historic site in which loss of life was connected to the event but 1500 people were not entombed in that site.
"Nor is it true to make a sweeping generalization about the pro-salvors"

I think you mean anti-salvors.

"Please state where I have ever claimed that there was uniform opinion."

You have only partially inferred this by citing only your personal examples, while systematically ignoring the public record comments of Louise Pope, Beatrice Sandstrom, Frank Aks etc. which are nothing to be sneezed at no matter what imperfect numbers you concoct regarding survivor sentiment. What makes the numbers game a pointless exercise is that it can only take into account those who lived long enough to see Titanic found and can not account for what others might have said had Titanic been found much sooner. Recall that it was survivor families who first tried to explore the possibility of whether the ship could be raised or not just to cite one example. Under the imperfect conditions we are left with today, which still produce a distinctly divided sentiment on those survivors who did live past 1985, we are left with a formula that can only indicate how the issue was not clear cut even to survivors, and that ultimately other factors must weigh in the final analysis on the merits or lack thereof in artifact preservation.

"you yourself ignored them in your characterization of those who have strong anti-salvage feelings"

Nonsense. I've been aware of Eva Hart's sentiments from the day the wreck was found, but its worth noting on day one, she conceded that in the end if recovery was going to happen then she couldn't do anything about that. I've yet to see an acknowledgment from you in this forum about what Louise Pope etc. had to say since you only confine yourself to those you talked to and I regard that as an evasion of the broader issue of divided opinion that did exist.

"those opposed to salvage were a 'peculiar' group."

Since these people I refer to have presented themselves at the forefront of anti-salvor thought in general, starting with Robert Ballard, then I still see no reason not to feel otherwise.

"I'm afraid that all I take from the salvaged items is a deep feeling of revulsion"

Then you are free not to indulge in such exhibitions yourself, but when this is taken to the point of trying to force and impose your standards on those of us who see the artifacts in a different light, which in the case of the "peculiar" people I have in mind has involved disreputable conduct of the first order to try and demonize those who feel otherwise, then we are talking about trying to resort to tactics that border on the tyrranical from my standpoint.

"a plastic 1970s cup or a 1912 teacup is of the same value as an Egyptian alabaster vase."

If the 1970s cup is associated with a great historic even then yes it does have the same value. The 1969 New York Times that was found in a WTC beam is one such example because it tells a story about the construction of the building. And it may interest you to know that scores of museums have been able to pick objects from the WTC remains that they feel tell a story for purposes of history, which includes even the New York Historical Society taking a damaged fire truck from a company that lost all of its men. It isn't the fact that it's a fire truck that merits its preservation it's the association with a great historical event. That is why the Titanic artifacts must be preserved, not because of what they are (though from a secondary standpoint they provide more about that era than the average person is liable to see in any museum) but because of where they came from, what they're associated with, and the deeper stories behind them. That is also why Ford's Theater is preserved, not because of its value from the standpoint of 19th century architecture, but because of the history associated with that locale. The Titanic simply falls into the same category.

"Once again you have sawn one of my lines in half to twist its meaning."

No, I merely carried it to its logical conclusion. And your other example refers to trinkets here and there that have nothing to do with a great event in history, which is why Titanic merits preservation. The bottom line is that the significant items rot, and the insignificant ones stay, which is like saying copies of a work of art are more valuable than the original.

"(and now the NMM is free, you don't even have to pay admission)."

Another red herring matter. RMSTI did not use the taxpayers money to recover objects, so like any private company that sponsors an exhibition it is playing by the rules that other exhibitions have played by for a long time. Quit trying to imply that RMSTI is the first museum exhibition to charge admission.

"how do you propose we apply an objective criteria to what are our subjective emotional responses?"

By looking to the objective example of precedence with regard to other historic shipwrecks where there was no objection and where museum preservation was always accepted as the norm.

"You seem to be basing your opinions of the anti-salvage thought entirely on those you've had bitter confrontations with in the past."

They're the only ones I've ever encountered with few exceptions. You've only demonstrated in showing that you're largely an exception in terms of conduct, but not that the people I've dealt with are outside the norm of anti-salvor sentiment.

I will respond to the rest later, so I would request you await the rest of my reply before responding in full or it will only cause overcomplication.
 

Eric Paddon

Member
Jun 4, 2002
569
47
193
And now, part two.

"But tell me, have I ever subjected you to personal vitriol?"

You have not, and you have proved to me that you are an exception to the general rule that I have seen exist, but what has not been proved to my satisfaction is that your moderate tone reflects the broader sentiment of leading anti-salvor thought, which from my experience is that rhetoric that flows outward from Robert Ballard, the Titanic Historical Society and the gents I have had run-ins with in the past.

"However, if it makes you feel any better, I can tell you now that I am equally opposed to salvaging artifacts from recent wrecks such as the Salem Express, the Yongala, or any war wreck/grave site."

Then that demonstrates a greater consistency in broadening the net beyond Titanic, but it still leaves us with ships like the Andrea Doria, where objects have been recovered from the wreck starting with Peter Gimbel's first dive the day after she sank. In my opinion, the criteria for recovery is based on intrinsic historic value. I would not be apt to bother with these ships you've mentioned that I've never heard of, because I don't believe they necessarily come under the category of importance to history. Titanic does. An item from the Carpathia wreck would as well (though my first instinct would be to take one object from the Carpathia and place it on the stern so that the two ships that are so entwined with each other could at last meet for the first time symbolically). Roberto Clemente's private plane that crashed in 1972? No. That doesn't enhance history. In the end the judgment is based on value to history, and Titanic passes the test overwhelmingly with flying colors.

"I feel strongly that Titanic's cultural significance, as I stated earlier, far outweighs her impact on historical events."

And I am talking about the cultural significance having an impact on the broader currents of history in place associated with the times. That is an event of far greater significance in the broad scheme then Jack The Ripper's rampage is about that era of history.

"She might have shaken the pre-war mood (which was by no means as optimistic and complacent as is sometimes suggested from an oversimplified post 2 WW perspective)"

You'd get one heck of an argument from most of my former colleagues on that. And from me as well, since this was the heyday of progressive reform in America that still believed in the ideas of progress and gradual forward enlightenment.

"I am as opposed to the salvage of recent wrecks such as the Yongala, the Salem Express, the Empress of Ireland and the Lusitania as I am to the salvage of the Titanic."

Then that sets you apart from the overwhelming group of anti-salvors I come across who save their wrath for Titanic alone. I'll grant less inconsistency on your part, but out of curiosity are you opposed to the museums taking objects from the WTC remains at Fresh Kills Landfill?

"The Holocaust is a momentous event that transcends this argument."

A significant event in history (though I'm still waiting for the Rape of Nanking and Stalin's atrocities in the Ukraine to get some attention from museums) but ultimately it is the act of displaying personal effects from an instance where human lives were loss for reasons which we must remember. And that is true of Titanic as well where the arrogance of an age, and a Tower of Babel mentality made such a disaster possible with a blissful faith in science and progress to overcome all potential obstacles.

'"Holocaust Inc' has an alarming ring to it."

Perhaps, but if the Museums had shirked their duty and only a private company for a traveling exhibition had been there to pick up the slack, then nobody would have given a damn about that detail, just like I don't give a damn about the fact that RMSTI is a private organization. They're the ones who were willing to pick up the slack when potentially more responsible organizations like Woods Hole shirked their duty in 1986 and in effect chose the path of irresponsibility. I would have been more than happy if say Ballard in 1986 brought up a few artifacts for immediate museum display and then said that recovery would be slow and limited for the time being, because at least I would have finally had the chance to see a piece of Titanic with my own eyes. Instead, Ballard wrapped himself up in a mantle of phony sanctimony and decided that not one object would be taken and when he did that, he guaranteed that I was going to support any expedition that finally got something off the ocean floor and didn't put them up for private sale. RMSTI is not perfect, but when I consider the alternative Ballard shoved down our throats in 1986, I'll take imperfect salvage in a museum exhibition any day of the week over the Ballard option of don't touch anything ever. Had Ballard and anti-salvor thought met us halfway in 1986 we could have had a compromise solution that would have made all of us happy and the fact that we didn't get that but instead got a decade worth of poisonous acrimony is ultimately the fault of the anti-salvor camp.

"If it were up to me, and were practicable, I would return the items from where the came from."

Which translated from my standpoint is an endorsement of vandalism and that you would still regard that as fine outcome, I find quite troubling.

"I take the greatest exception to your comment that I 'condone' any actions that would be promote the dissemination of 'false information'. Please cite any instance where I have done so."

Well I've yet to see any repudiation of some of the things that are well documented such as Ballard's deception regarding the crows-nest destruction, which he deliberately blamed on a salvage attempt to get an object that is not known to have ever been in the crows nest in the first place. Then there's the matter of even published Titanic book authors making preposterous charges of "footage showing this destruction" that somehow conveniently never manages to turn up when people ask to see it. In these instances this isn't a case of calling for the repudiation of the random ill-mannered poster in an internet group it has to do with very prominent figures in Titanic circles who have managed to gain prominence for themselves and their opinions.

"However, it certainly does not follow that by continuing to oppose salvage I am 'maintaining a poisoned atmosphere'."

The vocal efforts to demonize salvage activity on the grounds of it being morally wrong serves only the purpose of trying to cast a stigma over the motives of the people who have engaged in this work, and to in my mind purposefully sabotage any chance of these exhibitions attracting wider support from the public, and I do consider that trying to maintain a poisioned atmosphere in which anti-salvor thought will forever be trying to cast aspersions on the motives of those behind these exhibitions and the people who support them.

"You, on the other hand, seem to believe that the only way to eliminate the 'poisoned atmosphere' is to silence those whose views differ from your own, or induce them to 'cooperate' with your vision."

No, what I believe is dealing with the reality of what exists in the real world and trying to achieve a common goal that centers on the best solution for what has been recovered, and to stop pointless arguing about something settled years ago.

"Because you underestimate the depth of my feeling on this subject."

No, I don't underestimate. I see it all too well and it's the depth of that kind of sentiment about something that shouldn't be argued about anymore that in my mind is responsible for the disgusting conduct of those I've had run-ins with in the past.

"It was long and bitter, but in the end legislation was achieved protecting the war wrecks/graves."

This is another pet peeve of mine. I am absolutely opposed to the idea of government using the taxpayers money to police shipwrecks that lie in international waters for the purpose of preserving their alleged sanctity, and to rip up the precedents of international maritime salvage law that have been in place for more than a century. Government has a lot beter things to occupy their time and my tax dollars on which is why I never want to see the US government get into that game.

"However, the problem exists, and has to be addressed."

I'm glad you now admit you recognize that part of the equation because that's all my side of the fence has been asking for these last fifteen years and the pleas have fallen on more deaf ears than I can count from people who just wanted to keep shouting and demonizing. Lord knows that's all that ever happened in every forum I was part of.

"I think the undesirability of this is one point most of us would agree on"

Quite true. I don't want a single artifact from this collection beyond coal fragments sold. Redundant ones can stay in a private archive just as a photo archive keeps multiple copies of the same thing in archives.


"However, the most favoured solution - either a purpose-built museum or an existing one - presents practical difficulties as well. There's considerable redundancy in the items retrieved - there are only so many teacups the public needs to see at any given time. Would any museum wish put the resources into conserving and storing items not on display? And what is to be their final fate? Will the collection be distributed among many museums? And by what mechanisms will RMS Inc hand over these items? As they're responsible to shareholders, how do they intend to recoup their expenses or at least limit their losses? I'm open to suggestions, be they from the pro- or anti- side of the fence."

Now this is frankly what I've been waiting to hear for many years and I will be glad to thank you for looking at the problem in this way. This is what should have been done from the start in 1987 and I believe we could have been a lot closer to a permanent answer if the effort had been undertaken back then. My own solution has been for as many as two to three musuem locations that not necessarily would be part of the same organization but would be interrelated with each other. These locations could be spread out in locations accessible to different parts of the world such as Southampton, New York and California so that a collection that is big enough for several musuems can be dispersed in this manner and perhaps rotate from time to time among locations.

"Of course, I remained absolutely and utterly opposed to the retrieval of further objects, and on this point I will continue to fight."

I am not quite as passionate on the need for further retrieval. For me, the imperative was simply to not just stand there but do something in the first place and get something retrieved. That goal is now fulfilled and I don't see the need for another exhibition that would just recover redundant items. Only if something different like a sack of letters that could be restored to readability or the Rubiyat could be found would I consider it, but I think the primary duty from my standpoint, the preservation of some objections for me to enjoy, has been fulfilled for the most part and if nothing more ever came up, I could live with that so long as no efforts were made to hinder the ability for me to see what has been recovered. I could even at this moment agree to a tradeoff where if I said I wouldn't object to no more recovery from the Titanic, would your side not stand in the way of the ability for recovered objects to be enjoyed in what should be the best possible setting that exists, accessibility to the people, and not private collectors?

"But you're talking to me - not to Ballard or any other nemesis."

I suppose because of their prominence it's hard for me to look past the argument and not see them standing behind it ultimately. I appreciate your responding to the issue in a more thoughtful way, but I still need convincing that the people I dealt with in the past are now regarded even by anti-salvors in general as being on the fringe and should be condemned.

"I have not met any of the above you name. Of course I haven't ignored them, but my comments were directed at the fact that - with one exception - those I have met and interacted with are opposed to salvage."

The people I've mentioned though have had their comments on the public record for quite some time and they constituted for me a reflection of a divided opinion. It came out to 50/50 from the ones I saw express an opinion but even if the numbers weren't 50/50 but skewed one way or the other it would be an utter irrelevance in shaping my views about the value of objects to history. I am one of those who nearly lost a family member in the World Trade Center who escaped with his life with but five minutes to spare. I also learned of a classmate of mine named Todd Beamer, dying on Flight 93 while charging the hijackers after an emotional call to a phone operator. I know what it's like to be touched by tragedy of a great historical event that reasonates and impacts on me in a way no less real than those who are relatives of Titanic survivors and victims can feel. But as an historian my first object is to the broader issues of what serves historical knowledge and with the World Trade Center ruins, I stand foursquare with those who have found objects to preserve for future generations in museums, and my attitude would have been the same even if God forbid, my cousin had worked 50 feet higher and been among the victims in that rubble.

"You, however, made the unsupported statement that opinion was '50/50' or that it was 'on the record' that it was untrue the majority were opposed to salvage. By what authority do you make these statements?"

By reading every public comment that has been expressed on salvage by survivors and it came out even. It came out even every time I saw them, and I usually have expressed the qualifier survivors who expressed an opinion.

"Well, I'm up for it! I'd be happy to trade war stories with you some time"

If you ever want to do it via e-mail I'm open to that.

"(and 'gawking' is an emotive term, one which could equally be applied to those who go to see salvaged items)"

I only believe the term applies if it can be applied to both. What it can't be applied to is one but not the other. There is no difference between someone looking at the same object on the ocean floor in fascination and then the same object preserved under glass in a museum.

"I utterly and totally reject your decision to place the blame for the bitterness about this debate on the shoulders of one side."

Well I'm sorry, but Robert Ballard was the one who started this with his attempts to demonize these expeditions from the start and his no-compromise position which the THS then embraced. That is a spot that's not going to go out when it comes to analyzing how we got to this position of bad feeling on both sides. Ballard, enjoying unprecedented fame and stature as the founder of the Titanic (which meant minimizing the role Jean Louis-Michel and IFREMER played in the 1985 expedition) was the one who knew how to mold public opinion on this, and without that element, we would not be where we came to be.

"Individuals on both sides have acted reprehensibly"

I would need to hear your counterpart examples, but more importantly I would need to know if you faced your wrath from prominent people in the ranks of the salvage camp and if you can chart instances that are comparable to what Robert Ballard has done for the purpose of advocating a POV that the anti-salvage camp embraces so willingly.

"I most certainly do not cede the high moral ground in conduct to those in favour of salvage, as to do so would be a gross insult to colleagues"

Here is where you lose me again. I have never claimed a higher "moral" ground for my side of the fence of the debate because to me the issue of salvage does not center on whether one is more moral than another, or is somehow more sensitive to the moral issues associated with Titanic. It is because the anti-salvor side wraps itself up in an area of moral judgment on those who do take part in these expeditions that an aspersion is ultimately being cast that I feel is uncalled for in the extreme.

"As I read those words, I could not help but think of some of these dignified, decent, ethical people...they most certainly do not deserve to be subjected to the characterizations you have thrust upon them in this discussion."

I did not deserve to be told that I was on the take from RMSTI, nor did I deserve to be told that I had an unnatural fondness for George Tulloch, nor did I deserve to be taken to task for objecting to people who wished "The Perfect Storm" would destroy the salvage expedition, nor did I deserve to be taken to task for insisting that people stop swallowing the lies surrounding the matter of "crows nest destruction", nor did I deserve to get expelled from two Titanic lists because the moderators chose to object to my defending myself from personal slurs on my character. And these as I said were not the random ill-mannered Titanic poster on a newsgroup they were people who have made a comfortable reputation off the Titanic through the years. That is the track record you have to understand in order for you to understand why I don't have an instinctively high opinion of anti-salvage thought in general, though if only the tone in general had been the same kind you're showing here then I know what a different world it would be for Titanic buffs of all beliefs on this manner.

"I'll have to bring your Guam analogy up the next time I'm with some of the people I mentioned above. I'll be doing so when I meet up again with the closest living relative of one of the Titanic's officers within the next month - she has a delicious sense of humour, and will no doubt be highly entertained at this characterization of people like herself."

That's the way I feel about it, and if you want to modify it to something like complaining about an election in the distant past that didn't go one's way, the principle would still be the same that I regard the goals of anti-salvors in general to be about carrying on arguments over things that became a moot issue a long time ago, and that it is time to move on and stop the posturings about non-existent moral superiority and deal with the real world which is a world where artifacts exist so that a common ground solution can be achieved. That is advocating constructive action, and it isn't harboring dreams of destructive goals like wishing the recovered artifacts could be returned to the sea.

"Your analogy, however, does not hold"

I'm afraid it does for me. And so long as I continue to see the efforts of anti-salvors to hinder the ability of people to enjoy recovered artifacts by constant demonization of the process in which they were recovered, and so long as I see anti-salvor thought in general refuse to condemn the prominent people in Titanic circles who have engaged in disreputable conduct, I'm not surrendering either. And one thing I will never surrender on is my total opposition to people who advocate the senseless destruction of artifacts of historic importance that future generations of people are entitled to see with their own eyes for them to connect with and learn more about the three-dimensional reality of what the Titanic was.

"(and the fact that you see me, by your own admission, only in those terms indicates how deep your inability to grasp and appreciate my point of view runs)."

I have shown no discourtesy to you at any time. But I do not have any appreciation for the perspective you advocate because to me it is utterly wrong from my standpoint and the fact that it is too intertwined with a perspective that was used to serve the ends of the most disreputable behavior I have ever seen firsthand in my life only further cements my belief in how wrong that viewpoint is. If compromise can be achieved to meet the needs and concerns that are felt by both sides, then I am all for that and there have been suggestions made in your post that I have no basic quarrel with. But in that spirit of compromise there has to be a clearing of the air regarding the conduct some have taken in, and if the record shows that prominent people in the salvage movement have performed the equivalent of what I've seen from the anti-salvor side, I'll be the first to condmen it loudly, and I think its high time the anti-salvor side do likewise with their side, especially with those who have been prominent in the movement.

"The idea of dedication to an ideal might seem alien to you"

Actually it isn't. But my dedication to say, a Presidential candidate I supported passionately in an election he lost doesn't extend to my complaining and refusing to accept the outcome years after the fact. My dedication to principles rests on the assumption that I have a constructive goal to work towards in standing up for those principles and as of yet, I don't see what the constructive goal is in the anti-salvor camp in general beyond a wishful dream to committ vandalism. You've suggested the possibility of being open to some compromise but you still admit what your fondest dream is, and that is something that keeps me leery in the extreme.

I will say that this has been a good discussion, quite unlike any that I've had before on this issue, and I am sure we will keep doing it in what to me at least has been done in a spirit of good will and no moral judgment of the other's good nature.
 

Erik Wood

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"Even in the case of the Edmund Fitzgerald, the bell was ultimately removed to serve that purpose for history."

This was done with the permission of the families of the crew members on the Fitz.

"The issue never has been about gravesites in general, its about ships of historic significance that involved loss of life"

Wouldn't the loss of life mean it was a gravesite?

"It is an historic site in which loss of life was connected to the event but 1500 people were not entombed in that site. "Nor is it true to make a sweeping generalization about the pro-salvors""

How do we know that bodies where not on the wreck when it went down? How do we define a gravesite to something (Titanic)that doesn't keep its true shape? People died in association with the battle of Gettysburg we refer to that as a gravesite.

"I've been aware of Eva Hart's sentiments from the day the wreck was found, but its worth noting on day one, she conceded that in the end if recovery was going to happen then she couldn't do anything about that."

How is admitting that if something is going to happen it is going to happen and she can't do anything about it concession on a debate?

"It isn't the fact that it's a fire truck that merits its preservation it's the association with a great historical event."

As much as I dispise people making money off 9/11 I agree with this statement.

"That is why the Titanic artifacts must be preserved, not because of what they are (though from a secondary standpoint they provide more about that era than the average person is liable to see in any museum) but because of where they came from, what they're associated with, and the deeper stories behind them.

That is the first piece of pro salvage discussion that I can actually sort of kind of stand behind. I think, (I said THINK mind you) I agree with that. The wording makes it sound right. Whether it is or not isn't for me to decide.

"Quit trying to imply that RMSTI is the first museum exhibition to charge admission."

Can't say as I got the impression that she was.

"..but ultimately it is the act of displaying personal effects from an instance where human lives were loss for reasons which we must remember."

Who are we to take things that belong to somebody else just because they are no longer around to claim them. Wouldn't those "personal" effects go the members family? I agree that taking objects like Plates, bells, cups is...ok. They are objects of no real person value. I strongly believe that taking things like suitcases (full of contents that can be identified as belonging to a certain person), shoes, things that belonged to a person who perished or survived should be returned to the family or left where they lie. Just my opinion.

"organizations like Woods Hole shirked their duty in 1986 and in effect chose the path of irresponsibility."

By whose definition where they irresponsible? They did what they thought was right. How is that irresponsible?

"Ballard's deception regarding the crows-nest destruction, which he deliberately blamed on a salvage attempt to get an object that is not known to have ever been in the crows nest in the first place. Then there's the matter of even published Titanic book authors making preposterous charges of "footage showing this destruction" that somehow conveniently never manages to turn up when people ask to see it."

Agreed for the most part.

"I am absolutely opposed to the idea of government using the taxpayers money to police shipwrecks that lie in international waters for the purpose of preserving their alleged sanctity, and to rip up the precedents of international maritime salvage law that have been in place for more than a century.

I can't say that I agree with this. These are vessels in which nations lost brave men in fighting for whatever it was that country believed in. By claiming them off limits they have prevented folks who don't have history in mind but only money. In my eyes they are preserving there countries long fought for heritage. Sailors are sailors and the Navy raising the Monitor and giving the crew a proper burial is in my eyes sailors taking care of there own. Not for profit groups taking things where human remains exist (not that they do in Titanic).

The Arizona is part of American History as is the WTC and anything else related to 9/11. Those events (Pearl Harbor and 9/11) where the result of countries or organizations directly attacking American freedom and everything that Amercia has stood for in the last 200+ years. Remebering and creating memorials for those who have died protecting the American values is something I (and I am sure most Americans) believe strongly in. Upon visiting Pearl Harbor it is a somber and quiet place. A place of reflection, a place where even today the Navy has the crews of incoming vessels man the rails to pay respects to there fellow shipmates. Comparing a peace time incident like to Titanic to Pearl Harbor (i.e. the Arizona), the WTC or the Holocust is taking the salvage of Titanic way out of context in my mind.

The mentioned events represent a nations heritage and lead to events in which a nation defended itself. I think we would be better off comparing Titanic to other shipwrecks and leaving it at that.

"But I do not have any appreciation for the perspective you advocate because to me it is utterly wrong from my standpoint and the fact that it is too intertwined with a perspective that was used to serve the ends of the most disreputable behavior I have ever seen firsthand in my life only further cements my belief in how wrong that viewpoint is."

I am not sure where to begin with this, but I think we tread in dangerous waters when we don't read the entire argument of a debate before we disagree with it and base our opinions of group based on interaction with one fraction of an entire community that believes a certain thing.
 
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Eric Paddon said; >>I don't give a damn about the fact that RMSTI is a private organization. They're the ones who were willing to pick up the slack when potentially more responsible organizations like Woods Hole shirked their duty in 1986 and in effect chose the path of irresponsibility.<<

Huh????

A responsibility to do what? Woods Hole is not an organisation dedicated to salvage, and at the time of the expedition was on charter to the U.S Government to test out the gear they were using. Even if they wanted to claim salvage rights, by my understanding of the law, they couldn't.

Or do you know of a law which says that they can? If so, I'd love to see it.

>>Titanic though is not a graveyard and never has been. It is an historic site in which loss of life was connected to the event but 1500 people were not entombed in that site.<<

Sorry, but I can't buy into that one. There is plenty of precedent for designating wrecksites as graves, some of which have been discussed here. People went down with the ship. We know this much, if nothing else, from the leather boots and shoes which bear mute testimony to where the bodies fell. While certainly never intended to be a graveyard, the Titanic became one by default. The lack of any human remains now (Due to decomposition) makes it no less a grave.
 

Eric Paddon

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"Even if they wanted to claim salvage rights, by my understanding of the law, they couldn't."

That was not the excuse offered by Ballard in his 1985 and 1986 television appearances from the site when he was asked why he didn't recover anything. Always, (and I stress the word always) he would offer only one explanation and it was appealing to the sanctity of the wreck. And Charles Pellegrino's first book has a remarkable section of interviews with other members of the 1986 team, and what's remarkable about it from my standpoint is how most of them are saying they *should* have picked up something, and at least one said that it could have been a good opportunity for Woods Hole that was passed up. Doesn't seem like they were under the impression that they were somehow legally unable to pick anything up (and I seriously doubt that Ballard's sudden urge to throw back overboard the rusted cable that came up with the Angus camera had to do with his concern over the propriety of Woods Hole following the law).

Nonetheless, even if there was a matter of law that would have stopped them at that point in 1986, there was nothing to stop Woods Hole or any other scientific organization from making plans to do otherwise down the line, especially in accordance with Ballard's often forgotten and curious remarks to Congress in 1985 when for one brief moment away from TV cameras he was suddenly saying that salvage of some artifacts should ultimately take place.

As for my dismissal of the gravesite, I am aware that some bodies ultimately went down, but I think too often the stress on this term has led people to get the wrong impression that all 1500 victims of Titanic went down to the bottom in the ship and that's the misperception that I feel needs to be cleared up. The vastness of the site with such a limited number of people who would have ended up there in my mind means there is ample room for recovery of objects without intruding on those locations that have become a final resting place for those who did end up on the bottom.
 

Erik Wood

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"The vastness of the site with such a limited number of people who would have ended up there in my mind means there is ample room for recovery of objects without intruding on those locations that have become a final resting place for those who did end up on the bottom.

This is very interesting thought. One that will require some further thinking on my part. But that could be an interesting comprimise.
 
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The archive from Oct. 8, 2000 goes into this endless but always fascinating topic in great detail. For benefit of the new folks, I post again Ballard's Original salvage statement.
Before the Full House Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries, Oct. 29, 1985- regarding H.R. 3272, the "Titanic Memorial Act of 1985" Dr. Robert Ballard appeared along with Jon Hollis of the Titanic Historical Society (spokeman) from THS, Indian Orchard, MA. In response to question 4 from the committee Dr. Ballard responds: "Since many beautiful artifacts lie outside the ship itself, scattered over the rolling alpine-like countryside around it and are vulnerable to crude and damaging salvage attempts, I am PROPOSING to both our government and the Government of France that any future revisits to the TITANIC which would involve the deep diving submersibles of our two countries, or any country, for that matter- dedicate a portion of their diving time to carefully recording and recovering those delicate items lying outside the hull of the ship itself. The artifacts recovered should be used to create a museum for the countries which join the U.S. and France in setting TITANIC aside as an international memorial. I further propose that no further attempt be made to harm the ship itself or retrieve items from interior compartments. The interior compartments we hope will be documented in detail using remotely controlled vehicles which can be operated from nearby manned submersibles. This footage will provide the public with an opportunity to tour TITANIC'S interior like a guided tour through an untouched pyramid."
Okay- personally I cannot find fault with any of these goals. Note that BOTH THS and Ballard for Woods Hole are represented here- and they proposed the scenario- one which I believe would have found favor everywhere. The original RMST team followed these guidelines TO THE LETTER. As liason to the French Minister of the Sea at the time (1986-90), I can assure you that the French government refused to cooperate unless a reputable conservation facility and historical society was involved with the then TITANIC VENTURES, INC. Both of these demands were met by Electricite de France, and TIS (after THS declined to become involved).
I may also point out the damage to the crow's nest was done by QUITE another team under a very different scenario undersea.
There seems to be no end to this controversy, which should never have come to such an emotional state in the first place. The major players had a golden opportunity to pave the way for a compromise but "missed the boat". What saddens me most are the many friends who have turned against each other, various societies, and the many opportunities lost in the bitter and often ridiculous and sophomoric dispute over this issue. I can't help but wonder if it serves the memory of the ship, or her noble crew and victims well. The Beloved Dead are truly past caring -and the ship a rusted hulk -not even a vestige of her former glory. Would that such time, energy and money be put into something positive that would benefit the living- perhaps the many worthy organizations that aided Titanic victims, The Seaman's Institute, St. Vincent's Hospital, Salvation Army, Red Cross -or an all-out campaign to find a suitable repository for the artifacts to rest. Greenwich would be MY first choice. It's time to get on with things.
 

Inger Sheil

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I've done a bit of editing to cut down on the length here, as so much of what we're arguing is repetitive. Hopefully that will help prevent any future catastrophic losses of material - there's nothing worse than losing a ripping, closely argued response when it's near completion.

"That wasn't my question. I was asking about consistency in approach and methodology."

I answered your question. This issue is about historic shipwrecks, not common gravesites. The issue never has been about gravesites in general, its about ships of historic significance that involved loss of life. Turning this into a discussion regarding gravesites in general is just another case of the red herring by my definition.


No, it's not - it was very pertinent to some of the key issues here regarding archeology, methodology, and your assertions about "chronological snobbery". So I ask once again - do you see any difference between excavating a tomb and excavating a modern graveyard? If so, why? If not, why not?

"Is this so you deliberately exclude vessels such as the Salem Express?"

I've never heard of that ship and I can't comment on things I don't know the details about. There is no deception involved.


Fair enough. She's a wreck of recent date that went down off the Egyptian coast while carrying many hundreds (exact number still in dispute) of pilgrims returning from Mecca. The Egyptian government recovered what bodies they could, then sealed the interior of the wreck with concrete. Can you give a date for when it would be acceptable to enter the wreck and retrieve objects?

**The opportunity was there for Robert Ballard, the Titanic Historical Society etc. to register their opinions at the time, and they chose not to do so. **

You're pointing to individuals and one organization (frankly, I don't know if they did or did not ever express an opinion one way or the other).

**For quite a long time, anti-salvor thinking has shown a strange propensity to confine its passion to Titanic only and seemingly exempt all other ships from these standards they wish to apply. **

I don't think that necessarily applies. Because we are involved in research and discussion about the Titanic, subjects pertaining to her necessarily dominate exchanges. However, had I ever been asked, I would have responded in the same way had the ship been any other of recent date - the Andrea Doria, the Bismark, or my own particular favourite, the Yongala. The Titanic might dominate popular discourse (and is more likely to generate media comment), but simply because the views of people like myself haven't been
reported doesn't mean they don't exist. I'm assuming you're not familiar with the international and in particular British dive media, because if you were you would realize that these sort of debates extend far beyond the boundaries of discussion on the Titanic.

I again comment on what I can speak with authority about. The Arizona doesn't fit your criteria because objects have already been recovered since 1942 and the duty for museum preservation has been fulfilled.

And there are many objects from the Titanic - either recovered in the immediate aftermath, or retrieved by survivors, that fulfill the same 'duty' (or your definition of duty - not mine). If you believe that the Titanic should be opened up to continuous salvage, then so should the Arizona.

And since the Arizona is in a location where people can see it themselves with their own eyes, it isn't comparable to Titanic anymore than Gettysburg is.

Well, I know...I've been there. However, what one sees is simply that part of the structure visible from the surface. In order to equate the experience to the Titanic salvage objects, one would need to - well - salvage objects. In the same numbers as those retrieved from the Titanic.

"That's not the thrust of the legislation - it does not prevent 'don't ever recover one object period mentality for any shipwreck'"

Excuse me, but the don't recover one object period is the mentality that I associate with anti-salvor thinking. I think what you keep getting confused with when it comes to my perspective is that what I call "salvage" does not necessarily mean taking up everything there is from a wreck, it means simply fulfilling the responsibility to history by preserving something and depending on the wreck itself there can be limits set to how much is taken. Even in the case of the Edmund Fitzgerald, the bell was ultimately removed to serve that purpose for history.


Um...no...I wasn't confused. I suspect you are, however, about the point I was making. The quote above - 'don't ever...' etc came directly from you, and was your mischaracterization of the legislation protecting British war wrecks/graves. The legislation is not aimed at preventing all recovery of every single British wreck on the ocean floor. Should a discovery along the lines of the Mary Rose, for example, come to light it would not be rendered untouchable and beyond excavation. The legislation, drawn up in accordance with the input of veterans groups, divers, historians, archaeologists etc, is directed at protecting recent wrecks. Some of these, by the way, have already been picked over by divers....proving it's never too late to extend some form of protection.

I am aware, of course, that the form of salvage you subscribe to does not include taking every scrap and tittle of a wreck that can be removed. I addressed this in an earlier post, when I pointed out that although we talk in terms of being 'pro-salvage' and 'anti-salvage', there are not in fact two separate, coherent camps but rather a range of opinion. At one end we
have those who would remove every item they could and sell them off, on the other end there are those who would prevent even visits to the wreck site. These are the extremes - most of us fall somewhere in between these two points. Geller and Tulloch, for example, in one comparatively early interview spoke of not removing objects from the hull itself because it was 'too soon'. There will always be contention over what is and is not acceptable, even within the very loosely grouped sides of the issue. You are in favour of limited salvage rather than unfettered salvage, so one could get into the finer points of when exactly your criteria for 'fulfilling the responsibility to history' has been fulfilled. How many examples of tea cups need to be preserved? My point all along is how hazy and subjective these lines are.

For the recovery of certain objects for museum settings, yes. For commercial sale, no. I believe when we find the USS Yorktown, we should recover her bell for display as an item that serves a purpose for history and long-term preservation and that doesn't mean you have to take every single thing up.

I mean a salvage operation along the lines of RMS Titanic Inc. i.e., should the wishes of Veterans groups be overridden because they contravene your definition of duty to history, and put to work generating profits for shareholders?

Titanic though is not a graveyard and never has been. It is an historic site in which loss of life was connected to the event but 1500 people were not entombed in that site.

Perhaps 'grave' is the better term (although graveyard is in many senses equally applicable. It's certainly viewed as such by the families of some of those who died - as one woman whose family lost someone they cherished dearly told me, had his body been retrievable it should have been returned to them. As it was not, the Titanic is his grave.

"Please state where I have ever claimed that there was uniform opinion."

You have only partially inferred this by citing only your personal examples, while systematically ignoring the public record comments of Louise Pope, Beatrice Sandstrom, Frank Aks etc. which are nothing to be sneezed at no matter what imperfect numbers you concoct regarding survivor sentiment.

I wasn't 'partially inferring' anything - I was very specifically referring to those individuals I had personally encountered. I am also, by the way, not only talking about 'survivor sentiment' - indeed, I am actually referring more to those who lost family members in the disaster. I have not 'systematically ignored' anyone, but rather have acknowledged those views, more than once. I'm rather amazed that you would accuse me of concocting 'imperfect numbers' regarding survivors sentiment - I have made not
allegations about what survivor sentiment was across the board, only made observations on the views I have encountered among those with family connections to the disaster.

What makes the numbers game a pointless exercise is that it can only take into account those who lived long enough to see Titanic found and can not account for what others might have said had Titanic been found much sooner. Recall that it was survivor families who first tried to explore the possibility of whether the ship could be raised or not just to cite one example.

Yes, I know - as I said above, one family member expressed a very specific view about body recovery. You're still looking at it, however, in terms of a 'numbers game' - I just can't concur with you that, because views were expressed on both sides of the fence, they cancel each other out. I think they do have a place -a very important place - in this discussion.

"you yourself ignored them in your characterization of those who have strong anti-salvage feelings"

Nonsense. I've been aware of Eva Hart's sentiments from the day the wreck was found, but its worth noting on day one, she conceded that in the end if recovery was going to happen then she couldn't do anything about that. I've yet to see an acknowledgment from you in this forum about what Louise Pope etc. had to say since you only confine yourself to those you talked to and I regard that as an evasion of the broader issue of divided opinion that did exist.


You clearly haven't read my posts above in which in several instances I have stated that I am well aware that survivor sentiment was divided. In light of that, I don't think it's evasive at all for me to note that the views of the families I've interviewed have been, with one exception, anti-salvage (I have, for example, interviewed the relatives of four of the Titanic's eight officers - of these, three were anti, in some cases at least if not more
strongly than I am, and in once instance neutral/indifferent). None of these views, by the way, have been published or received any attention in the Titanic community. I hope to change that soon.

"those opposed to salvage were a 'peculiar' group."

Since these people I refer to have presented themselves at the forefront of anti-salvor thought in general, starting with Robert Ballard, then I still see no reason not to feel otherwise.


The fact it's not true should be a good reason to 'feel otherwise'. Simply because someone 'presents themselves' and the forefront of anti-salvor thought doesn't make that the case. Robert Ballard is not my representative, nor is he any sort of designated spokesperson for the anti-salvage front (however the media might wish to portray him). My views were formulated without reference to his own. You made a sweeping generalistion about those
who opposed salvage that was neither representative of myself nor those among my friends and colleagues, or families of the dead opposed to salvage.

Then you are free not to indulge in such exhibitions yourself, but when this is taken to the point of trying to force and impose your standards on those of us who see the artifacts in a different light, which in the case of the "peculiar" people I have in mind has involved disreputable conduct of the first order to try and demonize those who feel otherwise, then we are talking about trying to resort to tactics that border on the tyrranical from
my standpoint.


It depends on how you define 'tyrannical'. I will continue to exercise my right to declare salvage an abhorrent and immoral practice and an intrusive violation. I will not - and have never - resorted to illegal means or slander. By salvaging the items, you have imposed your standards on myself and those who object to the practice (I do not have to be present as what I see as a violative act has occurred).

If the 1970s cup is associated with a great historic even then yes it does have the same value. The 1969 New York Times that was found in a WTC beam is one such example because it tells a story about the construction of the building. And it may interest you to know that scores of museums have been able to pick objects from the WTC remains that they feel tell a story for purposes of history, which includes even the New York Historical Society taking a damaged fire truck from a company that lost all of its men. It
isn't the fact that it's a fire truck that merits its preservation it's the association with a great historical event. That is why the Titanic artifacts must be preserved, not because of what they are (though from a secondary standpoint they provide more about that era than the average person is liable to see in any museum) but because of where they came from, what they're associated with, and the deeper stories behind them. That is also why Ford's Theater is preserved, not because of its value from the standpoint of 19th century architecture, but because of the history associated with that locale. The Titanic simply falls into the same category.


If it is not the inherent 'value' of the object itself, but rather its association with an historical event, then we have more than enough objects associated with the Titanic. Objects retrieved at the time, objects saved by survivors, letters etc.

No, I merely carried it to its logical conclusion. And your other example refers to trinkets here and there that have nothing to do with a great event in history, which is why Titanic merits preservation.

That was not the point I was addressing. You were making assertions about the need for examples of 20th Century shipping history, of which copious quantities exist. You distorted the intent of my line by taking out only the reference to ebay auctions and discarding the reference to museum collections. As for the intangible, magic Titanic association - there are already many, many items connected with the ship that have not been removed from the wreck site.

"(and now the NMM is free, you don't even have to pay admission)."

Another red herring matter.


Actually a throwaway line, which is why it was in parenthesis, made in reference to your assertion that I was trying to turn objects connected with early 20th Century shipping and culture into the domain of the elite. Again, you distort my meaning. I was also chucking that in as a helpful hint to those who might not be aware that the NMM, with its excellent
collections, has now abolished its admission fee.

RMSTI did not use the taxpayers money to recover objects, so like any private company that sponsors an exhibition it is playing by the rules that other exhibitions have played by for a long time. Quit trying to imply that RMSTI is the first museum exhibition to charge admission.

I have most certainly not, and never have, ever implied that RMSTI is the first exhibition to charge admission. I've spent far too much time in museums to do that. However, seeing as you've raised the point, the fact that it is a private company responsible to shareholders does raise certain issues and questions. We're seeing some of these looming quite large now, with the future of the collection in doubt.

By looking to the objective example of precedence with regard to other historic shipwrecks where there was no objection and where museum preservation was always accepted as the norm.

But there is no 'objective example of precedence', as there has been no consistent, uniform treatment of historic shipwrecks, particularly not those of comparatively recent shipwrecks.

They're the only ones I've ever encountered with few exceptions. You've only demonstrated in showing that you're largely an exception in terms of conduct, but not that the people I've dealt with are outside the norm of anti-salvor sentiment.

I love the qualifier 'largely'!

I can only say that I'm sorry you've had this experience with the anti-salvage lobby, because it's quite alien to my own experiences. I know individuals like merchant mariner Ilya McVey, (who I probably shouldn't co-opt into this debate as he's busy at the moment, but I know he's posted on the NG and elsewhere regarding his anti-salvage sentiments) and many other prominent figures on this board whose conduct, intelligence and
morality are above reproach whose views are also close to the end of the spectrum I'm on. My research collaborator, for example. None of them have engaged in any sort of nefarious conduct. At least some of them, however, are somewhat wary of participation in this debate because of the savage invective directed at them by some of those favouring salvage.

In my opinion, the criteria for recovery is based on intrinsic historic value. I would not be apt to bother with these ships you've mentioned that I've never heard of, because I don't believe they necessarily come under the category of importance to history.

Simply because you've 'never heard of them' doesn't mean that they lack historical significance. The Salem Express was one of the worst shipping disasters of modern times (I'm amazed you're not acquainted with it — I suspect that if I were to post the details you'd probably remember it). The Yongala, lost in a cyclone in 1911, was an Australian coasting steamer that went down in a cyclone off Cape Bowling Green with the loss of 121 lives. In terms of Australian shipping history she is tremendously important. Your
criteria of 'importance to history' is nebulous - how do you propose to define how and what wrecks it applies to? And why should some wrecks be afforded protection and others left open to salvage because of this designation?

And I am talking about the cultural significance having an impact on the broader currents of history in place associated with the times. That is an event of far greater significance in the broad scheme then Jack The Ripper's rampage is about that era of history.

Actually, Jack the Ripper's rampage resonates quite significantly with the broader scheme of late 19th Century history. His killing spree coincided with the abolition of stamp duty and the upswell of the popular press...in some ways it's difficult to state whether Jack the Ripper created the modern tabloid or vice versa. He was also used as a political device by the burgeoning socialists to draw attention to the plight of the Victorian poor. And his place in popular consciousness outside the walls of our own little insular 'Titanic community' is probably as great as that of the ship herself. That doesn't make him 'historically seminal' - it makes him 'culturally significant'.

"She might have shaken the pre-war mood (which was by no means as optimistic and complacent as is sometimes suggested from an oversimplified post 2 WW perspective)"

You'd get one heck of an argument from most of my former colleagues on that. And from me as well, since this was the heyday of progressive reform in America that still believed in the ideas of progress and gradual forward enlightenment.


Bring it on!

It was also an era of civil unrest and discontent, marred by international industrial unrest and, in Europe, military build-up in a cold war that would soon turn very hot indeed. There were progressive reforms, yes, but it was also socially turbulent and widespread uncertainty, particularly on this side of the pond.

Then that sets you apart from the overwhelming group of anti-salvors I come across who save their wrath for Titanic alone. I'll grant less inconsistency on your part, but out of curiosity are you opposed to the museums taking objects from the WTC remains at Fresh Kills Landfill?

Really? Not in my experience. I've found my views fairly much the norm among
the many I've met who share them.

You raise a good question about museums taking objects from the WTC remains - Obviously something has to be done with these objects, as they have already for very practical considerations been removed from the original site where they fell. Much the same as some objects were removed from the sea's surface after the Titanic incident and found their way into museums. I haven't seen the ins and outs of it, however, so know little about survivor / family sentiment. I am assuming that a salvage company has not been given permission to retrieve items from the debris?

A significant event in history (though I'm still waiting for the Rape of Nanking and Stalin's atrocities in the Ukraine to get some attention from museums)

I agree that both the above instances deserve greater recognition, as do the barbarities in Rwanda and some other 20th Century events. The victims of Year Zero and Pol Pot's regime receive some recognition, and there have recently been some exhibitions on Bosnia.

<t>but ultimately it is the act of displaying personal effects from an instance where human lives were loss for reasons which we must remember. And that is true of Titanic as well where the arrogance of an age, and a Tower of Babel mentality made such a disaster possible with a blissful faith in science and progress to overcome all potential obstacles.[/i]

Well, that's its place in mythology at least..I think it's a bit more complex than the popular interpretation of technological hubris suggests (and doubt that the mentality of that age was any more or less arrogant than our own). There are, however, already objects connected with the Titanic accessible without the need to remove any from the wreck. If it's the intangible resonance of association you're after, what's wrong with a lifejacket from a survivor, or a postcard mailed by a young man who would never see Southampton again?

Perhaps, but if the Museums had shirked their duty and only a private company for a traveling exhibition had been there to pick up the slack, then nobody would have given a damn about that detail, just like I don't give a damn about the fact that RMSTI is a private organization.

I think they would. A privately funded exhibition with an underlying responsibility to return profits to investors would not go down overly well with the holocaust survivors I knew.

Had Ballard and anti-salvor thought met us halfway in 1986 we could have had a compromise solution that would have made all of us happy and the fact that we didn't get that but instead got a decade worth of poisonous acrimony is ultimately the fault of the anti-salvor camp.

No - the poisonous acrimony is the fault of bigots on both sides, and it will remain as long as they do. Woods Hole could not have anticipated what as going to happen, nor was it any way their ‘duty’ to take on the onerous responsibility.

"If it were up to me, and were practicable, I would return the items from where the came from."

Which translated from my standpoint is an endorsement of vandalism and that you would still regard that as fine outcome, I find quite troubling.


No less troubling than I find the removal of the objects in the first place.

"I take the greatest exception to your comment that I 'condone' any actions that would be promote the dissemination of 'false information'. Please cite any instance where I have done so."

Well I've yet to see any repudiation of some of the things that are well documented


Because I have not listed and condemned specific instances does not mean I condone them, and your assertion remains risible in the extreme. In this thread I have already stated that I have no truck with conscious deception and the deliberation dissemination of false data - I will add that applies to Ballard or anyone else, no matter what side of the debate they come from. However, you seem to still be labouring under the impression that Ballard is in some way the official spokesperson of the salvage movement. He’s not. Is Geller your spokesperson on salvage issues? Simply because someone is prominent is these broad, fractured, non-cohesive groups doesn’t mean that they’re representative of the majority.

"However, it certainly does not follow that by continuing to oppose salvage I am 'maintaining a poisoned atmosphere'."

The vocal efforts to demonize salvage activity on the grounds of it being morally wrong serves only the purpose of trying to cast a stigma over the motives of the people who have engaged in this work, and to in my mind purposefully sabotage any chance of these exhibitions attracting wider support from the public, and I do consider that trying to maintain a poisioned atmosphere in which anti-salvor thought will forever be trying to
cast aspersions on the motives of those behind these exhibitions and the people who support them.


I emphatically disagree. I have made it very clear that my beliefs on this subject are personal and subjective. Simply because I disagree with a concept and argue against it does not mean that I am 'demonising it' (if anything, your decision to suggest that I am is demonizing me!). I have always stated that I believe that there are those who honestly and earnestly believe in what they are doing. I have no compunctions at all
about declaring my beliefs, and will not be gagged by accusations that in doing so I am maintaining a 'poisoned atmosphere'. You might want to look at your own rhetoric in this paragraph to get a better idea of why debate continues to be acrimonious - you have chosen very inflammatory language, accusing me of demonizing, purposefully sabotaging, and maintaining a poisoned atmosphere. You accuse me of 'forever trying to cast aspersions on the motives of those behind these exhibitions and the people who support them', and yet that is precisely what you have done to me and to all those
opposed to salvage.

"You, on the other hand, seem to believe that the only way to eliminate the 'poisoned atmosphere' is to silence those whose views differ from your own, or induce them to 'cooperate' with your vision."

No, what I believe is dealing with the reality of what exists in the real world and trying to achieve a common goal that centers on the best solution for what has been recovered, and to stop pointless arguing about something settled years ago.


I repeat - you want to silence those whose views differ from your own, including mine, because you object to our views on salvage. 'Arguing' isn't a one-sided affair. It takes two to tango.

"Because you underestimate the depth of my feeling on this subject."

No, I don't underestimate. I see it all too well and it's the depth of that kind of sentiment about something that shouldn't be argued about anymore that in my mind is responsible for the disgusting conduct of those I've had run-ins with in the past.

It is your own utter intractability and decision to demonise people like myself, as per your above paragraph, that has contributed to the continued bitterness of this debate and the disgusting conduct of those I've had run-ins with in the past.

"It was long and bitter, but in the end legislation was achieved protecting the war wrecks/graves."

This is another pet peeve of mine. I am absolutely opposed to the idea of government using the taxpayers money to police shipwrecks that lie in international waters for the purpose of preserving their alleged sanctity, and to rip up the precedents of international maritime salvage law that have been in place for more than a century.


Many of these wrecks lie in British waters - how the legislation works in International waters I'd have to examine. I think you'd find very emphatic disagreement from most British taxpayers - myself included - if you were to object to the use of our money to protect British wargraves, be they the HMS Donegal or Changi Cemetery. My disgust is directed not at the government in this instance, but at those - including my fellow scuba diving ilk - who would violate the wishes of the survivors groups and remove objects from these war wrecks.

"However, the problem exists, and has to be addressed."

I'm glad you now admit you recognize that part of the equation because that's all my side of the fence has been asking for these last fifteen years and the pleas have fallen on more deaf ears than I can count from people who just wanted to keep shouting and demonizing. Lord knows that's all that ever happened in every forum I was part of.


Well, I'm not 'now admitting' - I've been very conscious of the problem created by the salvor's efforts. Wishing won’t make it go away. I don't shout and I don't demonise - I'm a practical woman and know that much as I loathe the concept of salvaging items from the wreck the consequences must be dealt with (as I said before - Mick Collins signed the Anglo-Irish Treaty. I do hope, however, not to get a bullet in the head). I might not agree with how they came to be here, but they are here, and something has to be done with them.

Now this is frankly what I've been waiting to hear for many years and I will be glad to thank you for looking at the problem in this way. This is what should have been done from the start in 1987 and I believe we could have been a lot closer to a permanent answer if the effort had been undertaken back then. My own solution has been for as many as two to three museum locations that not necessarily would be part of the same organization but would be interrelated with each other. These locations could be spread
out in locations accessible to different parts of the world such as Southampton, New York and California so that a collection that is big enough for several musuems can be dispersed in this manner and perhaps rotate from time to time among locations.


As long as it's all out in the open and above board, with the items duly catalogued and preserved. I don't see any other feasible solution than something along these lines, as I don't think the single purpose built Museum is likely to come to fruition.

"Of course, I remained absolutely and utterly opposed to the retrieval of further objects, and on this point I will continue to fight."

I am not quite as passionate on the need for further retrieval. For me, the imperative was simply to not just stand there but do something in the first place and get something retrieved. That goal is now fulfilled and I don't see the need for another exhibition that would just recover redundant items. Only if something different like a sack of letters that could be restored to readability or the Rubiyat could be found would I consider it, but I think the primary duty from my standpoint, the preservation of some objections for me to enjoy, has been fulfilled for the most part and if nothing more ever came up, I could live with that so long as no efforts were made to hinder the ability for me to see what has been recovered. I could even at this moment agree to a tradeoff where if I said I wouldn't object to no more recovery from the Titanic, would your side not stand in the way of the ability for recovered objects to be enjoyed in what should be the best possible setting that exists, accessibility to the people, and not private collectors?


Unfortunately I think there's more than two factions to this — rather than bi-factional, it’s multi-fractional. There will always be those who want to push for more items (in spite of difficulties preserving and housing those already located) and those who will take the other extreme, up to and including the prevention of visiting the wreck altogether. However, as far as I'm concerned, as there's not much to be done with the objects that have been retrieved the best possible scenario out of what I regard as a bad situation is to see that they are housed and cared for. It would be rather pointless to demand they be stored away from public vision, as they're here now and have already been exhibited, and no one would countenance their return to the site (unfortunately). Between the ideal and real falls the shadow, and as far as I'm concerned this is the shadow we're in now. I suspect the compromise you propose, while no doubt unsatisfactory to many on both sides, is the only one practicable. I might be an idealist and a dreamer, but I'm also a
student of history - and ideals occupy a high and rarefied air and tend to get brunted around by reality.

"I utterly and totally reject your decision to place the blame for the bitterness about this debate on the shoulders of one side."

Well I'm sorry, but Robert Ballard was the one who started this with his attempts to demonize these expeditions from the start and his no-compromise position which the THS then embraced.


As far as I’m concerned, the Salvors ‘started this’ — but even the ‘he started it’ argument doesn’t excuse or justify the placing of blame and bitterness on one side.

"I most certainly do not cede the high moral ground in conduct to those in favour of salvage, as to do so would be a gross insult to colleagues"

Here is where you lose me again. I have never claimed a higher "moral" ground for my side of the fence of the debate because to me the issue of salvage does not center on whether one is more moral than another


Actually, you have, by claiming that the entire responsibility for the rancour in this debate rests on one side — those who disagree with you.

It is because the anti-salvor side wraps itself up in an area of moral judgment on those who do take part in these expeditions that an aspersion is ultimately being cast that I feel is uncalled for in the extreme.

But you have attacked with judgments of your own, accusing me of would-be vandalism, and of poisoning the debate. I often disagree with even close friends on moral and ethical issues — simply because my view differs from my own doesn’t mean that it is ‘uncalled for’.

That's the way I feel about it, and if you want to modify it to something like complaining about an election in the distant past that didn't go one's way, the principle would still be the same that I regard the goals of anti-salvors in general to be about carrying on arguments over things that became a moot issue a long time ago

Erm…no…there are still items there on the sea floor. As long as they and their fate remain undecided, then the battle goes on. I think, however, that your election analogy is perhaps revealing in the extreme. You seem to feel that there is a ‘party’ arrayed against your ‘party’, lead by a presidential nominee, Robert Ballard. As far as you’re concerned, the election has been held and the candidate defeated. You can’t understand why folks can’t accept that result. However, from my perspective, I was never a part of a party and didn’t support the man you feel was the presidential nominee (and the ex-political adviser in me has to note at this point that even if a major political party losses one election they don’t fold — they simply regroup and run again). However, as I said, I don’t believe the “war” (unfortunate comparison in this instance, as it’s a combative image, but you chose it) is over. As long as some of the ship remains where it fell in 1912, there will be people who wish to leave it and its objects there.

That is advocating constructive action, and it isn't harboring dreams of destructive goals like wishing the recovered artifacts could be returned to the sea.

It’s not a ‘goal’ as such — more a wistful wish, as I know that particular ambition will never be achieved and so spending time and energy on it is not the most efficient use of my time and resources. As stated above, I’m willing to help address the current alarming situation (not that I imagine for one moment that my assistance would be called upon!), but that doesn’t mean condoning salvage or condoning any future salvage efforts, which I will continue to oppose.

"Your analogy, however, does not hold"

I'm afraid it does for me.


And again, as far as I'm concerned it doesn't. Which is another underlining of the way in which our approaches are so fundamentally different. We're using the same words, but we're not speaking the same language. Given the range of opinion on this subject, it's not surprising it's so emotionally charged.

And one thing I will never surrender on is my total opposition to people who advocate the senseless destruction of artifacts of historic importance that future generations of people are entitled to see with their own eyes for them to connect with and learn more about the three-dimensional reality of what the Titanic was.

If by 'destruction' you mean to leave the wreck alone to dissolve into its component elements (like the Salem Express, the Yongala, the HMS Donegal), then you can count on my absolute opposition until the last rivet is removed from the seabed. However, I will continue in my own way to advocate the preservation of artifacts not obtained through salvage - and in researching and preserving the material and information connected with those on board the ship. I maintain my belief that not all curiousity should be gratified and that the suitcases of the Salem Express and the Titanic should remained unopened where they fell.

I have shown no discourtesy to you at any time.

Well, other than sundry accusations of 'demonising' pro-salvors, 'purposefully sabotaging' support for the exhibitions and 'maintaining a poisoned atmosphere'.

But I do not have any appreciation for the perspective you advocate because to me it is utterly wrong from my standpoint and the fact that it is too intertwined with a perspective that was used to serve the ends of the most disreputable behavior I have ever seen firsthand in my life only further cements my belief in how wrong that viewpoint is.

The key phrase here is 'standpoint' - i.e, from your subjective opinion. From my standpoint, it is your perspective that is 'utterly wrong'. There is no objective set of criteria to establish who is right on what is fundamentally a question of personal morality and ethics. Nor can you justify your opinion that my viewpoint is 'wrong' because of unfortunate experiences you have had - the flipside would be for me to claim that abuse
I've received from the pro-salvage lobby makes their argument inherently wrong. If there's one thing that is clear is that there is a spectrum of belief. Does everyone who expresses an opinion pro-salvage, even those who advocate bringing up the entire ship and those who wish to see items on the auction block represent your views? Are they intrinsically entwined?

If compromise can be achieved to meet the needs and concerns that are felt by both sides, then I am all for that and there have been suggestions made in your post that I have no basic quarrel with. But in that spirit of compromise there has to be a clearing of the air regarding the conduct some have taken in, and if the record shows that prominent people in the salvage movement have performed the equivalent of what I've seen from the
anti-salvor side, I'll be the first to condmen it loudly, and I think its high time the anti-salvor side do likewise with their side, especially with those who have been prominent in the movement.


From a practical standpoint, I think you've got bugger-all hope of getting an apology if the people who have attacked you in other forums are as feral as you suggest they are. I'm certainly not holding by breath on an apology from those who've raked claws down me in the past. If you can't - as I have done - move past that and focus on the future, then the only future I see for this debate is bogged down in recrimination and personality issues, all of which detract from the central issues at stake. It becomes a question of who wronged who, who needs an apology, who is at fault in terms of conduct and the oldest childhood wail in the book....'he started it!' You want emotional reparations, and you won’t get them any more than I will. I suggest that if you were attacked as savagely as you’ve stated, you take recourse to legal action (if you have not already done so).

If there is to be compromise it won't come through any mass acts of atonement, because human nature being what it is that's simply not going to happen. And this is one instance when I'm talking about the real, not the ideal

Actually it isn't. But my dedication to say, a Presidential candidate I supported passionately in an election he lost doesn't extend to my complaining and refusing to accept the outcome years after the fact.

You've suggested the possibility of being open to some compromise but you still admit what your fondest dream is, and that is something that keeps me leery in the extreme.

Hell yeah! You’re right to be leery — you never know when I might just turn around and show my fangs and a tail, being convinced as you are that because I disagree with you on this subjective, controversial subject I must be fundamentally wrong
happy.gif


I will say that this has been a good discussion, quite unlike any that I've had before on this issue, and I am sure we will keep doing it in what to me at least has been done in a spirit of good will and no moral judgment of the other's good nature.

Here’s hoping. We’re certainly circling each other rather warily if not with outright suspicion, but it’s a start. It took me a long time to get to this point, I might add. I’ve been in too many exchanges where the rhetoric has gone up notch by notch until the tensions boiled over into flames. I don’t pretend to absolve myself from loss of temper, impatience and waspish responses. I’ve made a very conscious effort to keep that in check this time (although both of us have resorted to some strong phrasing). Perhaps I’m getting old, or perhaps the lessons of history have finally been learned. It brings to mind the tragedies of the Irish Civil War, and the good, brave and decent men and women on both sides, once united, who fell out over the Treaty that created the Free State. Terrible and reprehensible deeds were committed, former comrades turned against each other, and the bitterness that resulted lasted for decades. Both sides were equally convinced of the rightness of their arguments, and of their own absolute morality.

All I know is that at the end of the day I have some top mates who are pro-sal. I might not have faith in what they are doing, but I have unshakeable faith in them. For many of them, I don’t think I’m wiser, more experienced, or more ethically oriented than they are — we simply see things differently. It’s why my mantra in this matter (and yes, I do slip from time to time!) is that ideas may contend, but men need not.
 

Mark Taylor

Member
Feb 20, 2001
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"You're pointing to individuals and one organization (frankly, I don't know if they did or did not ever express an opinion one way or the other). "

From all the court filings I have read thus far, neither THS or Ballard filed any legal opposition to the salvage claim.

However when RMS Titanic did go out for salvage (I believe in 2001), there was considerable buzz they would cut into the hull. Some people did send letters to Judge Clarke (the federal judge overseeing Titanic salvage case). These letters and perhaps the statements made by the company itself did prompt an extraordinary from the bench order to not cut into the hull. The letters, by the way, were not entered into the legal record but as correspondence (since they were not formal court filings).
 
Jun 10, 1999
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Kathy:

Oh YES INDEED Kathy people, and 100,000 of them were genuinely moved by the sounding of TITANIC'S voice (Courtesy of RMSTI and Jesse Ventura) in St. Paul, MN.

Let me tell you, how I as one indivual, one endeard TITANIC enthusiast was moved. I had turned on the 6:00 World News with Peter Jennings. A closing segment (They always save the best for last) "A blast from the past". I was moved to tears, in the matter of a blink of an eye!! I teary eyed, passed my Mother in the hall directly thereafter..."What is it Michael?", Mother queried, in response I answered "It's just TITANIC Ma".

Enough said (She knows, my Mother...:)

BTW, Kathy, your "Chicken bones" example is so feeble. Try the Irwin suitcase...that my dear is an exlempifying example. What if that one suitcase bore such an "unbeknowst" tale of your kindrid?

In your honest opinion would your "outcry" be as such? Would you be crying chicken bones then...HUH?

Yes, let us not forget the Harts whom sailed TITANIC...less we also never forget the Sutehall's!!


Michael A. Cundiff
USA
 
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