Anyone who has been threatened with legal action by Pulitzer (which may or may not be a significant portion of the readership of this blog) will immediately understand the title of this post. My mom reads and comments on my blog sometimes. I hope she will not soon start getting cease and desist notices.
Anyway, I had a bizarre email exchange with Pulitzer (who CC's his correspondence to his lawyer, Steve) after the post I wrote pointing out that a British Museum image of a Roman shield boss was tagged with a copyright mark for InvestigatingHistory.org in the Daily Mail story about the "Roman sword." I started by telling Pulitzer that, since he clearly was claiming copyright over an image he did not own, I no longer trusted his assertion that he actually owned the photos of the sword that he forbid me to use. He first assured me that his copyright mark was not on the photo:
I told him that he should check the photo, as there really was a copyright mark there.
"Andy, there is no copyright mark, it is an attribution of who provided."
I told him that the little "c" with the circle around it means "copyright," and he should look at the image.
He then told me that I was not a lawyer (which I knew) and instructed Steve to send me a "notice to cease and desist that we are asserting such claims when WE DID NOT put the mark there." Eventually, apparently, he finally looked at the image and did verify to his own satisfaction that it contained a copyright mark of InvestigatingHistory.org. How that somehow became my fault, I do not know. He asserted that the Daily Mail had put the same mark on all the images in the story, which was not true (there are copyright marks on all the photos, but they are of several different organizations). Eventually he ended the conversation by thanking me and saying
"we have requested the attribution be changed on several points:
1. This is a representative photo
2. This is not THE shield boss found
3. I am not the finder of the boss."
That's all well and good, but as of this writing the image and the caption in the Daily Mail story is exactly the same (i.e., with InvestigatingHistory.org's copyright mark) as it was on December 21 (five days ago). This tells us two things, I think: (1) the Daily Mail's procedure for fact-checking stories that they publish is either non-existent or very poor; and (2) Pulitzer's pull with the media is not even of sufficient weight to compel an edit to fix an error in a published story. It's really pretty sad.
And that brings us to the next "development:" a Christmas day rant, the main thrust of which seemed to be "if you don't believe in the Roman sword, the terrorists win." I confess that I have not read the whole thing in detail (it was obvious that Pulitzer wrote it himself, which, while more admirable than some of his blog posts that are copied-and-pasted directly from Wikipedia, makes it difficult to follow). He seems to be crying conspiracy and saying that you should trust him more than someone who actually knows something about the subject matter he claims to be "rewriting."
"Give the sword to a local College and University Archaeology, Anthropology or History Department and ask them to evaluate it and they say “Most likely a trinket or copy bought in the 18th century and brought back on a ship and accidentally dropped overboard”."
This is oddly specific, and it makes me think that he already knows that it is going to happen. I don't think he has a crystal ball, however. My guess is that he knows that someone already looked at the sword (probably in connection with The Curse of Oak Island) and probably said that very thing. And that's probably what will end up on television. There's another falsifiable hypothesis for you - we'll see if I'm right or not.
Pulitzer then continues on his quest to beat up straw men and dodge the real questions, arguing that no-one would drop such a valuable sword in shallow water without retrieving it. This is ridiculous and moot, since (1) we really have no proof the sword was actually found in the water and (2) it probably wasn't that valuable at the time it was purchased anyway (my guess is the 1800's). He has provided no independent evidence that there's a Roman shipwreck out there, and the only provenience information we've been given so far is "someone said their relative pulled it out of the water a while ago." That's not enough, and I'm going to need to see much more before I accept that this sword came from an underwater context that means anything.
It's possible he says something else new in the post, but I wouldn't know since I haven't read it that carefully. Maybe he attributes some new magical powers to the sword in addition to its capacity to point north. Maybe once he finds all ten swords he can put them all together and gain control over Castle Grayskull.
Finally, today Pulitzer wrote this strange post claiming that people who are skeptical of him are banding together to attack him:
"When investigating the connection, one can see the orchestrated attack by by an archaeologist and a blogger who both attack ALL FINDS and all individuals which write, recover or rediscover lost history which does not fall in line with the “approved party line”."
It does not surprise me that Pulitzer's definition of "investigating" entails clicking to see who follows who on Twitter. The archaeologist he's referring to is me. Jason Colavito and I correspond occasionally (and I read his blog daily). I don't know who "Maleficent" is (just like many of the people I follow on Twitter), and I don't know any of the other whopping nine (9) followers of this person. I'm not orchestrating anything with them.
What Pulitzer doesn't seem to understand is that it's evidence that matters. During our email exchange about the Roman shield boss image, he asked me why I was so skeptical of the sword. I didn't bother to respond. I think I've been very clear about the reasons for my skepticism. I just don't believe there's any compelling reason to think the thing is a genuine Roman artifact. Ultimately, however, it doesn't matter what I believe: it's what I (or anyone else) can demonstrate. I have laid out some very clear expectations for my sword hypothesis, any one of which Pulitzer could prove wrong if he had the evidence to do so. He has chosen not to engage on those points, but instead write diatribes about being a warrior and blah blah blah, libel blah blah blah, copyright blah blah blah, etc.
People who have evidence and an understanding of what it means use it. Those who don't . . . blah blah blah.