March 6, 2009
To the members of the executive and advisory council of the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS):
I am writing to bring to your attention an apparent instance of political and professional silencing on the IAGS listserv -- one that appears to constitute:
(1) a direct contravention of the rules of the IAGS listserv;
(2) unprofessional behaviour by the listserv manager, and possibly by the IAGS president;
(3) insulting and demeaning treatment of a dues-paying member of the IAGS and a prominent and respected member of the genocide-studies community;
(4) a matter urgently requiring investigation and intervention by the IAGS executive.
On February 23, 2009, IAGS president Greg Stanton published a response on the IAGS listserv to Helen Jarvis's posting of the "Declaration of Genocide Scholars on Israel and Palestine." Stanton wrote, in part: "The name of the International Association of Genocide Scholars may not be used in any petition without the adoption of a resolution by the Association. This petition must be rewritten to remove the name of the International Association of Genocide Scholars. If it is not, the Executive Board of the Association will publicly repudiate the petition."
When I read Stanton's comments, I prepared the following short response, questioning the executive's role in the matter:
In response to Greg Stanton's post:
(1) Why should the executive feel the need to publicly repudiate a declaration that is limited to "the undersigned members" of the IAGS, and is explicitly not a declaration by the association as a whole?
(2) Which of the IAGS bylaws (http://www.genocidescholars.org/images/2008_IAGS_bylaws.pdf) grants the executive the right to intervene in this matter in any way whatsoever?
Adam Jones, Ph.D.
The post was submitted on February 24 to the listserv through the Google Groups website, then resubmitted when I realized I had neglected to add my affiliation to the signature. I wrote a personal follow-up to Rebecca Parson (firstname.lastname@example.org), also on February 24, reading: "Dear Rebecca, I just sent a short and, I hope, civil response to Greg's post, but realized after the first mailing that I'd forgotten to attach my [full] signature -- so could you please send the second mail, which includes my affiliation."
I think all of you will agree that the submission in question was indeed "courteous" and "professional" in tone and content, as the Guidelines for Use of the IAGS Listserv require (see Appendix, below). Accordingly, the message should "simply [have been] automatically posted," to quote again from the guidelines. However, it was not posted at the time, and has not appeared since.
The listserv guidelines also state: "If the Moderator determines that the posting violates the guidelines, it will be rejected. Notice of rejection will be sent to the author(s) so that the author(s) may revise the post to adhere to the guidelines for re-posting." I received no communication whatsoever from listserv manager notifying me that either of my posts had been rejected, and explaining how and why they should be revised to adhere to the listserv guidelines.
On February 25, 2009, I wrote to Rebecca Parson at her personal email address: "Rebecca, the following post submitted on Monday through the Google Groups site still hasn't appeared on the listserv. Did you receive it? Best wishes, Adam." Again, no response was received.
The following day, February 26, I wrote again to Rebecca Parson, with a cc to Greg Stanton (email@example.com): "Dear Rebecca, Again I must inquire why my short response to Greg Stanton's post has not appeared on the listserv, and why my attempts to clarify the matter with you personally have gone unanswered. I am copying this to Greg, with a request that he look into the matter. With each day that passes, the relevance of my post declines, and I do feel this unfairly skews the debate in the executive's favour. With best wishes, Adam." Yet again, no response was received.
On February 27, I submitted a new post to the listserv through the Google Groups site. The text was separately relayed on the same day as an email message to both Rebecca Parson and Greg Stanton: "Rebecca and Greg -- this was just submitted to the listserv through the Google Groups page. As a paid-up member of the IAGS who is closely following the rules for listserv posts, I expect it to appear promptly, and also wish to be provided with an explanation for the mystifying delay in posting the previous version. - AJ [Text of listserv post] To IAGS members: The following message was originally sent to the listserv on February 24. Four days later, despite repeated attempts to follow up personally with Rebecca Parson and Greg Stanton, the post still has not appeared, and I have received no response or explanation indicating why it has been withheld. Therefore, the executive's arbitrary intervention (as I see it) in the matter of the Israel/Palestine petition, and its intemperate pledge to publicly repudiate the petition, has been allowed to stand unchallenged all week long. The response, if it now appears, can have only a small measure of the impact it might have had if published promptly in response to Greg's post of 23 February. Is this by design, I wonder? - AJ." The submission was not posted to the listserv; no communication was received from either the listserv manager or the IAGS president.
Finally, on March 3, 2009, I wrote to Rebecca Parson, cc'd to Greg Stanton, as follows: "Rebecca, I still have received no response from you or Greg regarding the matter of my consecutive attempts to post a response to Greg's February 23 declaration on the IAGS listserv. The listserv guidelines read as follows: 'Normally postings will simply be automatically posted once IAGS members have registered for use of the listserv. ... [However,] if the Moderator determines that the posting violates the guidelines, it will be rejected. Notice of rejection will be sent to the author(s) so that the author(s) may revise the post to adhere to the guidelines for re-posting.' I have received no notice of rejection, but neither has my submission been 'automatically posted.' Accordingly, unless there is an innocent explanation (a possibility that is rapidly fading), it seems you are in contravention of the rules of the listserv for which you serve as Moderator. Since you are appointed by the IAGS President, it is incumbent on me to bring this to Greg Stanton's attention, and to request that he act immediately to redress the situation. Adam Jones." No response has been received to this message.
I believe you will agree that it would be an affront to my dignity to continue to communicate my deep concerns through attempted postings to the listserv or personal correspondence with the listserv manager and IAGS president. Unless -- unlikely though it appears -- neither of these individuals received any of my attempted posts and other communications, or unless all of their responses somehow went astray, the IAGS executive appears to be confronted with a serious instance of professional misconduct, and an act of politically- and personally-motivated discrimination.
REQUEST FOR INVESTIGATION AND INTERVENTION
On the basis of the above evidence, I request that the IAGS executive launch an immediate investigation into the actions of the listserv manager and the IAGS president -- an investigation from which the IAGS president will recuse himself. If the investigation finds that the listserv manager knowingly violated the rules of the listserv in order to politically and professionally silence an IAGS member and deny him rightful access to the listserv, I request that she tender her resignation or be removed from her post. If it transpires that the IAGS president knowingly allowed or colluded in the violation of listserv rules in order to prevent a response to his own listserv message appearing, and to politically and professionally silence an IAGS member and deny him rightful access to the listserv, I likewise request that he tender his resignation or be removed from his post.
If, on the other hand, it transpires that against all available evidence, there is an innocent explanation for the repeated failures to post my messages to the listserv, as well as the repeated failures to respond to my direct mailings to the listserv manager and IAGS president, this should be communicated to me with due apologies. The missing posts will then be posted immediately to the IAGS listserv, along with an explanation of their earlier failure to appear and an apology to me personally.
Note that this communication is not presented as an appeal to the IAGS Information Technology and Communications Committee, as provided for under IAGS listserv rules. The guidelines state that such an appeal can only be filed in the case of a formal rejection of a post by the listserv manager. No such rejection has been issued. The message constitutes, therefore, a direct appeal to the IAGS executive, excluding the president, to investigate what is potentially a serious case of discriminatory and unprofessional conduct. [...]
Thought is precious. Dissident thought is especially precious. I expect the IAGS executive to act in defense of its free expression.
Adam Jones, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Political Science
University of British Columbia Okanagan
Kelowna, BC, Canada
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