[Coral-List] The Chagos Debate

James Hendee jim.hendee at noaa.gov
Wed Oct 29 11:53:11 EDT 2014

Sorry, below where it says, "I want to state that when I read Dr.
Sheppard's post of October 26, I was very pleased that instead of
posting a rebuttal to Mr. Sheppard's..."

I meant to say "...rebuttal to Mr. Dunne's..."

Thanks for the words of support from some of you, I appreciate that. 
This has been difficult and time-consuming.

On 10/29/14 9:14 AM, James Hendee wrote:
> This post responds to Douglas Fenner's request (below), as well as
> recent posts concerning Chagos:
>     http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/pipermail/coral-list/2014-October/date.html
> For those who have been with Coral-List for a long time, I think you
> will appreciate that we have tried diligently to disallow inflammatory
> comment; thus, two decades of evidence and experience speak to Douglas
> Fenner's rhetorical question below as to whether personal attacks are
> allowed on Coral-List:  of course they are not.  We (usually me) try our
> very best to apply the rules evenly to all posts that come through the
> queue.  Quite often a judgement call is required on items that might be
> considered inflammatory.  Usually it's really obvious.  In the case of
> Richard Dunne's post in which he forwarded a statement by David Snoxell,
> my judgement (after consultation with Mr. Dunne) was that Mr. Snoxell
> was trying to correct an account by Charles Sheppard, and he used quotes
> to address particulars concerning the CCT, BIOT, etc., so I let the post
> go through.
> Where I went astray was in allowing the next post by Mr. Dunne, which
> may have been seen by some (including me) as a continuation of the theme
> of "correcting accounts," yet I should have been more circumspect and
> reviewed the post in the context of an "inflammatory comment."  So, I
> made a mistake on letting that one out as it was submitted.  My
> apologies to all who were offended (and from the email I received, there
> were an appreciable number of you).
> I want to state that when I read Dr. Sheppard's post of October 26, I
> was very pleased that instead of posting a rebuttal to Mr. Sheppard's
> post (and thus continuing in what has obviously become a battle of
> wills), he quite simply re-stated what he and his colleagues' goal is
> and has been, and referred us all to a Web site that reports on their
> progress.
> I have received emails from both parties in this interchange, with each
> saying he has proof of his statements and allegations.  How would I know
> what is true without spending as much time as they do on this issue? 
> And in the final analysis, as it concerns Coral-List, how does all this
> contribute to coral reef conservation?  Well, the truth of it is, as I
> see it, this battle of whether to establish a Marine Protected Area 
> (MPA) in the Chagos Archipelago is an outstandingly good example of a
> large and relevant issue, which is the difficulty of taking into account
> the sociological factors that will always confound the decisions
> required in establishing a marine preserve where human livelihoods
> absolutely must be taken into account.  So, the personalities in this
> current debate are not too surprising in that they represent very large
> constituents behind each of them who have strong emotional investments
> and time on this earth to right what they see are the wrongs.  Everybody
> gets emotional about something, and thank goodness for that.  Is it
> possible to have good science and rational thought without an emotional
> investment?  Yes, but for the most part, how dry and unappealing that
> prospect seems to me.  We have heart for the things we do.
> So, I would be happily dumbfounded but extremely pleased if Charles
> Sheppard and Richard Dunne--as champions of valid goals and concerned
> citizens--could somehow agree to disagree, put the allegations and any
> possibly missteps behind them,  re-start the clock, shake hands, and
> come up with a coolly achieved success to the very difficult question of
> establishing an MPA, or not.  Maybe there is a middle road somewhere
> that would be acceptable to all after so many difficulties.  Their
> partnership would serve as the best example to the global population on
> how to address these extremely difficult types of issues and save the
> other endangered coral reef ecosystems of the world in which we all
> ultimately have an investment.
> In closing, I would like to say that I will probably not allow postings
> _concerning Chagos_ from either of these parties individually, but would
> greatly appreciate seeing at least one submitted by both together as
> they address the difficult questions in the Chagos Archipelago. 
>     Sincerely yours,
>     Jim Hendee
>> Subject:
>> personal attacks on coral-list
>> From:
>> Douglas Fenner <douglasfennertassi at gmail.com>
>> Date:
>> 10/29/14, 2:05 AM
>> To:
>> coral list <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
>>     I wonder if personal attacks are now allowed on coral-list.  I just
>> read the rules for coral-list on the NOAA website, it says no "inflammatory
>> commentary" but I don't see it say anything explicit about personal
>> attacks.  I thought the reason for setting up the alternative
>> "free-for-all" list-serve was for such things, where people are free to
>> call anybody else whatever they want.  Perhaps you don't know about that,
>> Richard, and should become familiar with it.  It is open to anyone, and you
>> can say anything you like.  It's in Yahoo Groups, called "
>> coralreef-freeforall".
>>      I think it would only be fair if those accused had the right to rebut
>> the accusations in the same forum they were made.  However, an endless
>> argument about details which are only tangentially relevant to coral reefs,
>> would indeed likely bore most readers.
>>      In the mean time, could we please have a clear statement from the
>> administrator for coral-list about whether personal attacks are allowed?  I
>> rather doubt that most of the readers would like to see lots of name
>> calling and mud slinging.  We've done very well in the past, and I join
>> everyone else in appreciating the great job Jim Hendee does.
>> Cheers,  Doug

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