Monday, 6 December 2010

A reply to Dr Roberts, Pt 2.

A Reply to Dr Roberts
By Honestbroker.

Upon the appearance of Dr Roberts’ piece, entitled 'Pearl Harbour'
Vee and I independently produced our own responses. We discussed how best to present both pieces and felt that, while there is inevitable overlap, each offers something not present in the other and that the two combined represent a comprehensive rebuttal of Dr Roberts’ argument.

So here, for what they are worth, are my thoughts:

I had to look up “IPA”. I’m still not entirely sure, but the definition that seems closest, especially given the reference in Dr Roberts’ piece to promotional copy, is Institute of Practitioners in Advertising. The usual practice in academic writing is to write what initials mean in full on first use, then follow with the initials in brackets and use just initials thereafter. Dr Roberts has departed from that practice in his piece and left us guessing. Still, it’s true that a code of conduct governs advertising that demands it must be legal, decent, honest and truthful; equally true that severe penalties can be imposed where these requirements are breached. So I think my guess is a reasonable one.

This sentence from Dr Roberts’ piece is worthy of note:

I do not propose to cross swords with these people, who may hold whatever opinions they wish of Gonçalo Amaral. Suffice to say that the recent 'Inside Out' broadcast by the BBC offers ample evidence of divergence in this regard, and how 'strength of feeling' can come across with as much apparent authority as authority itself.

It isn’t explicitly stated what Dr Roberts defines as strength of opinion appearing as if authority and authority itself. But it is implied that examples in the first category are Simon Hare’s inside out programme and V’s piece. We must take it, then, that authority itself is the subject of Vee’s piece, Dr Amaral’s book? All of which brings us neatly back to this: legal, decent, honest and truthfull. If Dr Amaral’s book is, indeed, authority itself, it must be legal, decent, honest and truthful. But it isn’t! There is truth, interpretation of truth and factual accuracy (or inaccuracy!) How, then, can a book that is authority itself be so error ridden? How can it state, without there ever having been a body or an autopsy, that Madeleine was given an overdose of a drug that was not even on the market at the time of the McCanns’ holiday? When one senior British officer was given a brief by Portuguese officers coordinating and leading the investigation to write a report on a specific theme, how can it be said (as Amaral says) that his report ‘confirmed their worst fears’ (that Madeleine was dead and probably died in the apartment)? How can Amaral say that the cadaver dog reacted to the boot when the handler Martin Grime says he did not deploy the dog inside the car?

I’ve scarcely scratched the surface, but authority itself (Dr Amaral’s book) is decent, legal and truthfull? How, then does ‘authority itself’ differ from that which has the appearance of authority (Vee’s piece or Simon Hare’s programme about the Foundation)? Dr Roberts should tell us.

Dr Roberts does not dispute that, as a limited company, the Find Madeleine fund must be open and transparent, but argues that this does not reflect credit on the McCanns because transparency is a legal requirement. He omits that the McCanns entered voluntarily into an arrangement that would require them, legally, to be transparent. Why would they do that unless they wanted to be seen to be above board?

We needn’t be delayed by the sophistry of this argument

Leaving aside the vague 'reason to believe', we have Amaral ostensibly donating a mere 10% of his royalties to charitable causes, whereas the McCanns will donate all of their profits to the fund. But the fund, as we know, is not a charity. So the truth to be understood (rather than that portrayed) is: Amaral's charitable giving 10%. McCanns' charitable giving 0%.

If, indeed, Dr Amaral gave 10% of the proceeds from the sale of his book to charity, then he kept 90% for himself; while the McCanns have, personally, seen none of the money paid to the Find Madeleine fund. And contrary to what Dr Roberts argues, the McCanns targeting the proceeds from sale of the book and the pain caused to them by the book are not mutually exclusive. The book is the cause of their pain, and as recompense, they want the revenue generated from its sale.

Finally, Dr Roberts’ depiction by analogy of Amaral as the ‘Japanese’ is singularly unfortunate. During the war, the Japanese had a record of violation of the human rights of their prisoners of war that at least rivalled in unspeakable brutality that exhibited by the Nazis towards the Jews.

Dr Roberts is right about one thing, though. Just as the Japanese admiral predicted (correctly) that, with their strike on Pearl Harbour, the Japanese had “Stirred a slumbering giant, and filled him with a terrible resolve,” so Amaral’s success in overturning the book ban is likely to be short-lived.

by Honestbroker.