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The Education Forum
John Simkin

The Future of the JFK Forum

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Andy Walker and I started the Education Forum in December 2003. The main objective was to create a place to discuss educational issues. At the time we were both involved in several educational projects, including the European Virtual School. If you look at the following thread you will see the biographies of our early members.


http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=530


A second objective of the forum was to enable people to engage in debate about the content of my Spartacus Educational website. This was important because my website contains information on controversial subjects. In fact, it was started in September 1997 to support the History National Curriculum (England and Wales). An important feature of this curriculum is to study the different interpretations of the past.

In those early months of the Forum we had some interesting discussions about educational issues and the content of my website. Although members strongly disagreed about some of these subjects all the members treated each other with respect and no one was banned nor did we need to have moderators.

In March 2004 I was asked if I would start a new section of the Forum on the subject of the JFK assassination. I had taught the subject in the classroom as an “interpretation” exercise since 1979 and had put some of this material on the website in 1998. At the time, there was very little material of the subject and was appearing near the top of search-engine inquiries (this was a time before Google).

I agreed to this request and the first posting took place a few days later on the subject of David Atlee Phillips. The main objective of this section was to bring together researchers into the assassination of JFK. As I said a few months later: “It is hoped that this forum will enable researchers to share information they have acquired about the case. In this way, the forum will become a major way of communicating information about the assassination to the wider community (we have a far larger number reading the forum than those posting information).”

In the early days of the JFK forum authors of books on the assassination, were willing to discuss their material on the subject. I was aware that people held strong opinions on the assassination but I had no idea of the level of hatred that people had for fellow researchers. The real problem was not between those who believed in the lone-gunman theory and those who were convinced it was a conspiracy. The real conflict was between those who believed in different conspiracy theories. Sometimes they agreed on the overall theory but disagreed passionately on some minor detail.

These discussions often resulted in members making abusive comments. The worst offenders were members who saw JFK as some Jesus Christ type figure who was killed because he was trying to save the world. Therefore, anyone who suggested that JFK was a flawed individual faced the prospect of venomous attack.

Several of the authors who had been attacked told me they were no longer willing to post on the Forum because of the abuse they received. At that time I considered closing down the JFK section of the forum. It was causing me more grief than it was worth. However, at the same time, the forum did contain good researchers who were always polite and argued their case in a logical manner. I therefore asked for volunteers to moderate the forum. It was a thankless task but some people did volunteer to do the job.

In November, 2004, I posted the new forum rules.

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=2243

It included (iv): “Members should not make personal attacks on other members. Nor should references be made to their abilities as researchers. Most importantly, the motivations of the poster should not be questioned. At all times members should concentrate on what is being said, rather than who is saying it. It is up to the reader to look at the biography submitted by the poster, to judge whether they are telling the truth or not. The word “xxxx” is banned from use on the forum.”

Members often broke this rule and persistent offenders were warned about their behaviour. Some were put on moderation but it seemed to have little impact on their long-term behaviour. I have to confess that by this stage I was completely disillusioned with the JFK Forum and rarely read it and only occasionally posted items that I thought members might find interesting.

Occasionally I received emails from friends bring my attention to what some members were saying about me on the forum, other people’s forums and websites. Some of these unpleasant comments were about my so-called support of Peter Janney’s book, Mary’s Mosaic. It is true that I believe that the CIA were involved in the death of Mary Pinchot Meyer as can be seen on my page on her and the discussion that I started on 23rd March 2005.

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=3520

It seems my main sin was not that I was blaming the CIA for her death but because I was suggesting that JFK had affairs with women. I posted this attack on me by Jim DiEugenio here:

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=11208

I even allowed Jim to join the Forum in June 2010 so he could continue his attacks on me. I am not complaining. I think these attacks say more about Jim than me. However, to my eternal shame, I did not protect Peter Janney enough when his book Mary’s Mosaic was published in 2012. What made it worse was one of his main tormentors was one of our moderators, Tom Scully.

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=19058

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=19777

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=19367


The main reason I did not act on this was because I was part of the argument. If I had tried to restrain these attacks I would have been accused of being biased and interfering with free speech. Even so, it was no real excuse for not protecting a friend.

Last week I received an email from Hank Albarelli Jr. about a thread about his book, "A Secret Order"

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=19016

I had not read the thread before and would have assumed it would have been dealt with by the moderators. In fact, the main offender was one of the moderators, Tom Scully, where he breaks the Forum rules by calling Albarelli a xxxx.

Hank argues:

The recent posts and actions of James DiEugenio and one Tom Scully are accomplishing nothing but the gross discrediting, and perhaps destruction, of the forum. These two fellows seem to be on some sort of pathological campaign to damage and discredit any forum member who may happen to disagree with them or that posts something they don't agree with.

Their destructive campaign against Peter Janney is a very good example. Their blatant attempt to coerce me into that campaign is yet another fine example of how devious and harmful these two individuals can be. (The fact that Scully lists himself as a site "moderator" is quite surprising to me.)

I noted you in my new book as a fine historian, and also highly praised the forum and several of its members, but I would hesitate to do that again given the actions of the above two fellows. I fear that they are making a mockery of the forum and are using it simply for their own devices. Quite sad to observe and experience.


I find I am in complete agreement with Hank’s comments and have decided to delete Jim DiEugenio and Tom Scully membership. This is a start of a new regime at the Forum. If any other member makes abusive comments about a fellow member, their membership will also be deleted. If anyone tries to subvert this measure by posting comments of banned members, they will also be removed from the forum.

This is the last chance for the JFK Forum. If this new approach does not work, the whole forum will be removed.

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Without any reservations, I support this step.

I am guilty of attacking members and non members in ways I am not proud of. I'm glad this framework is in place and will seek to abide by it in future postings and will accept the consequences of not doing so. I hope that in time the forum will be all that it can be as an Educational Resource in all fields, whether I am a member or not.

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I'd ask John to clarify here: this does not mean you cannot disagree or even argue / debate with another member.... but you must do it in a civil fashion.

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I'd ask John to clarify here: this does not mean you cannot disagree or even argue / debate with another member.... but you must do it in a civil fashion.

I do not mind what people's opinions are. They can disagree as much as they want to. All I am asking is that they do not break rule (iv): “Members should not make personal attacks on other members. Nor should references be made to their abilities as researchers. Most importantly, the motivations of the poster should not be questioned. At all times members should concentrate on what is being said, rather than who is saying it. It is up to the reader to look at the biography submitted by the poster, to judge whether they are telling the truth or not. The word “xxxx” is banned from use on the forum.”

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And kicking a member and a moderator off the forum without warning them of your "new regime" first? That's bullcrap, John.

I don't interpret this as a "new regime", but rather an ENFORCEMENT of the rules of the existing regime.

Edited by J. Raymond Carroll

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Yes, a "new regime," in the sense that the rules of the old regime will actually be enforced.

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Tip of the hat to you, John.

I say that we are looking for the truth, and it ain't a sandbox around here!

We grow it up, and we find the truth through the sharing of ideas here. TD

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I'd ask John to clarify here: this does not mean you cannot disagree or even argue / debate with another member.... but you must do it in a civil fashion.

I do not mind what people's opinions are. They can disagree as much as they want to. All I am asking is that they do not break rule (iv): “Members should not make personal attacks on other members. Nor should references be made to their abilities as researchers. Most importantly, the motivations of the poster should not be questioned. At all times members should concentrate on what is being said, rather than who is saying it. It is up to the reader to look at the biography submitted by the poster, to judge whether they are telling the truth or not. The word “xxxx” is banned from use on the forum.”

Thank you John - it's a good rule.

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It could be a very simple process...

If you find something that you feel is not factual or has an issue of interpretation all you have to do is quote it and list out what you feel is the contradictory point or source.

I've done that a couple of times recently and the poster has accepted it in the manner it was intended. Thing is, you have to stop after you do that.

It could be that way, I doubt that it will. The whole subject has become world view and agenda driven...in some cases far more than agenda but at the crusade level.

The whole concept of live and let live died a while back, not sure exactly when. I saw a sports T shirt the other day and the wording pretty well sums up where we have

arrived - "If you aren't a winner, your'e a loser". Everything is competition, everything is conflict.

It could be simple, but I suppose the idea of "Its not whether you win or lose but how you play the game" is way too old school. Larry

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...

I find I am in complete agreement with Hank’s comments and have decided to delete Jim DiEugenio and Tom Scully membership. This is a start of a new regime at the Forum. If any other member makes abusive comments about a fellow member, their membership will also be deleted. If anyone tries to subvert this measure by posting comments of banned members, they will also be removed from the forum.

This is the last chance for the JFK Forum. If this new approach does not work, the whole forum will be removed.

John, You have provided a valuable resource by creating this website. You deserve much credit for doing so. There are precious few sources (after you eliminate the crackpot and agenda-driven sites) where authors, historians, researchers, students, and other interested parties can gather to discuss topics like the JFK assassination, especially when the Powers-that-be and their lap dog media are deceiving the general population. There is no question, a site like this has great value.

I share your concerns regarding personal attacks, abusive language and decorum. I support your action to set a baseline for conduct and civility.

I would, however, add a few observations. It is unclear to me why only Tom Scully and James DiEugenio have been deleted from forum membership. If the standards are applied evenly, there are other members who merit scrutiny, to avoid the appearance of selective application of the standards.

Further, I humbly suggest, that the new regime allow for at least one warning before a member is banned. The moderators here perform a thankless job. It is time-consuming and requires solid judgement to determine when some type of action is required.

To a large extent, they will determine the future of this forum.

I realize that James DiEugenio, Tom Scully, and Lee Farley may have crossed a certain line engaging in personal attacks against other posters. We should also consider the countless positive contributions these members have made. When a dedicated individual makes a huge personal investment in a cause, it is often accompanied by equally significant emotions. I hope a path will be open for these members to return.

In the end, I believe the moderators will determine the success or failure of the new regime.

I'll keep my fingers crossed.

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This indeed seems harsh. Normally if a member crosses a line he or she is warned, or put on moderation.

Like John I disagreed with virtually every word JIm wrote about Peter Janney's book. There was much debate over this.

That said I find Jim and Tom's posts very informative, even though I usually skip over all the clips he ads..

I hope you will reconsider. (And you know just how much I detest the infighting in the community; been my montra since about 1974)

Dawn

Edited by Dawn Meredith

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Ah, the bourgeois and the bourgeoisie win again. Had a book published? You're welcome here and we'll see to it that these bloody peasants don't make uncomfortable challenges to you as you continue your quest to make a name for yourself in the world of Arts & Letters.....

Care to continue "making history" by pissing in the vast ocean of allegations that John F. Kennedy was schtupping 16 women a day every day while he was US President (and so deserved the death he got)? That's good stuff -- the kids need to know about Historical Truth.....

Lies and liars should be exposed as such. And people will make a stand on this issue. If "references [are not] to be made to [members'] abilities as researchers," then Paul Trejo gets a free pass unless you would seriously like to undertake the monumental task of trying to factually rebut the gigantic amount of wind that his assertions represent. If "the motivations of the poster should not be questioned," then you'll need to shut down your mind to a considerable extent on larger issues like the spreading of disinformation and the discrediting of the research community as mere "Conspiracy Theorists." Welcome back, Jim Fetzer and Sid Walker; so long, Lee Farley and Tom Scully.

Previously, Tom Scully's biggest sin -- aside from performing unnecessary dental extractions -- was that he posted too much obscure information about who was who at people's weddings and Bar Mitzvahs without clearly spelling out what point he was trying to make. Guess what -- that kind of thing is important background information that tends to get overlooked because it's mere "Society News"; but if you're trying to make some sense out of what connections there might be among various persons, it's helpful to know that US General A stood as best man for Nazi Refugee B's son as he married the niece of US Publisher C.

But lately Tom went too far by being too straightforward (honest) and challenging/badgering personages like for instance David Lifton on the subject of Priscilla Johnson-McMillan. Seems to me that Greg Parker and Lee Farley also had a bit of controversy in questioning some issues surrounding David Lifton. So evidently the conclusion to be drawn is clear: VIPs should be protected from too uncivil questioning by mere proles.

Civility in these venues can be a useful cloak for those who can use it to their advantage. Two of the most "civil" members I've encountered here in the past 7 years are also two of the most fundamentally dishonest, and their "civility" only appears to be a tool which further marked them as dishonest. That is of course the mark of psychopaths/sociopaths, but as long as they remain "civil" they must be okay.

At one level it seems ridiculous that one member retains membership when he's obviously only a front for several "voices" and dominates sections of the forum, closing off discussion in those sections by simply being "himself," while other members get into trouble by being more straightforward than "civility" will allow. But evidently quietism is what's wanted as we continue to age. That being the case, The Education Forum will simply become one more part of the problem and have nothing to do with any kind of solutions. But at least Authors will have a nice, comfortable and civil place to sell their wares.

Best and most sincere regards,

Dan

Thanks for telling the truth, Mr. Dunn! [something that Mr. Trejo could never quite master, BTW...]

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...

Civility in these venues can be a useful cloak for those who can use it to their advantage. Two of the most "civil" members I've encountered here in the past 7 years are also two of the most fundamentally dishonest, and their "civility" only appears to be a tool which further marked them as dishonest. That is of course the mark of psychopaths/sociopaths, but as long as they remain "civil" they must be okay.

At one level it seems ridiculous that one member retains membership when he's obviously only a front for several "voices" and dominates sections of the forum, closing off discussion in those sections by simply being "himself," while other members get into trouble by being more straightforward than "civility" will allow.

...

This goes to the very heart of the issue.

There are no forum guidelines to address this situation. A pity.

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John,

I've had my differences with both of them and certainly agree that Tom is not fit to be a moderator but I think you may have over reacted a bit, perhaps it would be better to put them on moderation. I don't remember ever agreeing with Martin before but I think booting members without warning is not fair; most members have very strong feelings about the issues they debate here and may get carried away at times. Normally members aren't even put on moderation without warning. This is of course your forum and you can do as you please, but would you have kicked Jim and Tom out if they had acted they way that had regarding issues were not as close to your heart? You should consider the chilling effect this could have, members could be afraid to disagree with you too vigorously for fear of being shown the door. I imagine Jim and Tom will retreat to the DPF and suspect others may follow.

Edited by Len Colby

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John,

Just a suggestion, why don't you make your case to the mods. and other admins. and ask them to vote on the matter. If they agree with you that would add legitimacy to your actions.

Len

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