Responding to the BCSE
(This article was first published on my blog in November 2006, and is about the BCSE's first attempt to intimidate me into silence with empty legal threats.)
Gandhi once famously said "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you; then you win!". Somewhat melodramatic of me to mention it, yes. But there's a good point in there.
At first, the BCSE followed an official policy of ignoring this blog. But that's been changing. Now, Roger Stanyard (the BCSE's leader - see here, here, here) has posted an official article about me. This is something I am positive about - it is now clear to the BCSE that there is a powerful case to answer. Whilst few of the BCSE's targets have thought that the BCSE are credible enough to deserve more than a sentence or two in response, the BCSE are now seriously worried about me.
Of course, I anticipated some kind of response at some point. For that reason, I have been careful to document my facts carefully. It's all there for anyone to see. This takes away the need to make counter-responses; if I have an obvious bias which involves taking the facts and twisting them beyond all recognition, then anyone will be able to see it. This is in stark contrast to the "research" articles on the BCSE's own website. Lacking references to primary sources, you're just going to have to take their word for it that they're fairly handling whatever facts they have. Where those "facts" come from is something that they are generally keeping secret.
In my opinion, I seem to have done pretty well. Instead of e-mailing me to point out factual errors, BCSE members have e-mailed me to dole out abuse. That's not normally necessary if you're in control of the facts. However, it has been brought to my attention that the BCSE have now amended their public response to me to accuse me of deliberate illegality. This is a serious accusation, and demands a serious response.
Firstly, I'm not too troubled by the material about me or my church. It is of a similar standard to the rest of the BCSE's site - contains some simple mistakes here and there, contains a few 2+2=5 deductions, contains no way that anybody wanting to check the BCSE's accuracy or fairness to the facts could do so... and so on. To spend time refuting this kind of thing would be to give it more credibility than it's worth.
Those with a sense of irony will not fail to be amused by the fact that almost in the same breath as complaining about being "smeared", Stanyard then proceeds to deliver up as many "Anderson has been spotted in the same room as X, who is thought to be involved with Y, who is rumoured to be into Z" -type allegations as he can manage. In the space of four short paragraphs, we're taken on a whistle-stop tour of not necessarily relevant (!!) speculation about sizes of churches, "notorious censorship" , "diploma mills", who my blog has provided hyperlinks to, what unspecified "affiliations" I have, some of which possibly involve "anti-" this, that and the other... and none of these about me - all about other people. Well, at least we can say that Stanyard ought to know a smear when he sees one! May he come to gain the same keen acumen when it comes to spotting a double-standard!
(Taken from http://www.bcseweb.org.uk/index.php/Main/Links in November 2006).
The irony-meter is also rather tickled by this one:
"Anderson has never approached BCSE to check his facts"
Maybe you are thinking that this would imply that Stanyard was careful to make sure he approached me before publishing his allegations about me? Just so that nobody could accuse him of acting hypocritically? Well, as it happens, he didn't.
"and his blog denies us the opportunity to post replies to his claims."
I scrolled down to the bottom of the page on which Stanyard posted that, to see if there was a comments section where I could add a reply. But there isn't. Seems I have to head off to some forum which most people reading the article would likely never trouble themselves with. Ah well. We've seen before that consistency isn't the BCSE's strongest point.
Well, as I say, I think that such material is self-refuting. So I'll leave that there.
Here are the paragraphs which I am really responding to:
As a trainee man of religion, we are surprised that Anderson is willing to break the law
This mock surprise, of course, is pure guff. The BCSE's leaders have, in abusive private e-mails to me, in their forums, and on their website, described me variously as a child abuser, "clown", "liar", "fool", "stupid", "fundamentalist", "completely without standards or [conscience]", "cowardly", "gutless", "little weasel", "god boy", "extremist", "lowest of the low", worse than the "dirtiest little sewer rat chomping away on a turd". As such, I expect they won't be too surprised if I turn out to be responsible for a significant chunk of all the evil ever committed.
Still, how have I allegedly been breaking the law? Read on:
- he has never approached us for copyright permission on any material lifted from any sites of BCSE or its forum participants or members.
Now, I can only take it that either the BCSE are ignorant about "fair use" rights, or that they are attempting a deliberate deception. My articles have contained short extracts and quotes from the BCSE's public website, public forum, and public Yahoo mailing list. As such, no permission is needed to quote it, and I don't need to approach anyone.
If the BCSE are ignorant about the existence of "fair use" rights, then it's another data point for the case being built that they neither competent nor qualified.
I find it hard to believe, though, that the BCSE are ignorant. Their own website contains numerous similar length quotes from other third parties who they haven't approached. If Stanyard believes that this is illegal, why is he doing it himself?
It seems to me more likely that the BCSE know that this claim won't wash. That's why they haven't even tried to contact me officially about it, but have gone public instead. They know that if they contact me privately, I'll laugh. But, they think there's some mileage in making a public allegation, and hoping that readers of their website either will be ignorant of fair use rights, or that they won't come over here to check my response.
We also advise readers of this wiki that Anderson is in serious breach of UK and international copyright laws in information he is offering to the public.
That certainly sounds serious. Whatever do they mean?
He is offering to all complete copies of the postings to our former Blackshadow Yahoo group. Under copyright law, all those postings remain copyright of the posters. In some cases the posters have explicitly claimed their copyright ownership using the © sign. As Anderson has extensively drawn on material from the Blackshadow forum he is fully aware that he is in breach of copyright laws.
Well, actually I'm "fully aware" of no such thing. Since the BCSE pulled the public archive from the Internet containing all the incriminating postings which they don't want us to see, I've been making an offer. Go back through my blog posts. I don't use the same words each time, but the meaning is clear. I offer to supply to any researcher who wants to verify the accuracy of my quotations, a copy of the archive.
That's a limited offer, to limited people, for a limited purpose - research. And that's again protected by UK copyright law. I haven't put up a public copy for anyone to download - and I'm not making a general offer to the public (contrary to Stanyard's paragraph above). I'm not "fully aware" of anything, apart from the fact that the BCSE are running scared of me, but don't have the facts to support their case - and have to resort to spurious legal threats instead to try to silence me.
As for the copyright signs, the BCSE's claims about that appear to be bogus too. Now, my search facility may not be working correctly (and I might be missing archive messages) so I'm not going to make too much of this, but I found:
I'm pretty glad that the BCSE have now put up something about me.
There are some people in their database who I know enough about to know that the allegations on the BCSE's site are stuff and nonsense. However, I don't want to put up an article rebutting any of those allegations - because it would just give them more publicity than they're worth, and drag someone's name through the mud again. Instead, my approach has been to expose the lack of credibility of the BCSE in general. Then it becomes clear that anyone actually believing any other articles is doing so only because they really want to - rather than because they have any good reasons for doing so.
Now, though, that the BCSE have put up something relating to me, that danger is gone. I can point out the weakness of what the BCSE say without drawing attention to anyone but myself. I can point out twisted facts, lack of evidence, obvious smears and plain incompetent or malicious mistakes without anybody else's name being damaged. And I'm glad for the opportunity.
I expect that the BCSE might decide to try some alternative and similarly bogus allegations in future. (I presume that this one they've tried is their best shot). I'm not going to have a general policy of replying to such things. I'm happy to point out to people that if the best arguments the BCSE have against "BCSE Revealed" is to argue that I'm an idiot, then they must feel that their case is pretty weak. Just why are the BCSE so concerned about trying to stop me quoting their previously-published public conversations anyway? Isn't it because they're rather damning? Isn't it because if people get to read about what the BCSE really think, then the BCSE's not going to get the public influence it craves? What are they trying to hide?
Finally... some more irony.
Well, within a day of Roger Stanyard putting up the above paragraphs, he also put up another (unrelated) article, on another page. In that article, he reproduced a complete, long letter from a third party, to a third party - neither of whom had given the BCSE permission to reproduce it. Not just a fair-use quote mind you - the whole letter. (And in fact, in this case, the letter was not intended for publication in the first place - so even a quote would not be covered by fair use. Again, I don't want to publicise it - if you want verification, e-mail me privately). A bit of an odd action for someone who's only just finished writing such fine-sounding words about copyright law, don't you think? Especially if he wants us to take him seriously?
We can only wonder if in fact there are two Roger Stanyards. One of them is very concerned about upholding copyright law and morality - and one of them isn't. There is one who is concerned about truth, and one who just does whatever helps his side of an argument.