The following post by John Pash appeared on Websleuths on Monday, August 31, 2009.
Hello sleuthies, I’m back
I must say I was rather surprised by what I see, and what I don’t see. I was expecting to see some caustic and virulent comments, but was pleased to see that type of reaction not rearing its ugly head. Obviously there are some thoughtful and rational people among you all. However, there are a couple of comments that I must respond to, and provide further insight.
Mazama: you asked if there were other “persons of interest” named. Well, first we must explore the concept of a “person of interest”. Rather than repeat what is already stated on the web, I would suggest reading the wikipedia entry for “person of interest” and its companion article on Richard Jewell. Bottom line, it has no legal definition, and can range from a possible suspect to a material witness [someone who may have additional information]. So, if the Sheriffs Department believed the rumor that I had counseled Roger for “issues”, then that designation would fall under the idea of being a material witness rather than a suspect. But it is interesting that the sleuthies immediately chose the suspect aspect of the definition, even though the material witness aspect would have been just as possible, and more appropriate. Secondly, that term was not used until 1996; so in 1981, no persons would have been named with that label. However it might explain why [as I stated in my earlier letter] I was contacted by a detective in 1997. But as I also stated, there was never any followup in regards to the detective coming out to talk to me. Third, I was never aware of 2 unidentified persons Roger was supposedly seen talking to that morning. That was news to me when I read it on these various websites. So I cannot say that it is anything more than another rumor. The explanation given for Roger’s disappearance was that he was a runaway. I have no idea when it was redesignated as an abduction. Finally, you asked who told me about this website. That is presently irrelevant to the discussion concerning Roger.
Lori [aka coldcase1]: on your own website, you asked if I would like to tell my side of the story. OK, that would be my previous letter. Whatever I felt was within the allowable bounds of my instructions from the detective, I described. Might I suggest that you request any further information from the detective in charge of Rogers case. Or, continue reading below.
Christine2448: you said one should attack the posts, but not the posters. This seems to be a variation of the old saying “don’t shoot the messenger”. However, the 2 ideas are not comparable. The reason you don’t shoot the messenger is because that person did not write the message. However, those who post comments are the authors of the comments, and as such, are responsible for its content. This is why people can be sued for libel. and freedom of speech is not an excusable defense.
Fairy1: You wonder about the person who brought down a well-developed forum. And then leave a last message that “it’s about him, not you”. I can’t say who took down the website for however many days, but I would have to assume that it was the people who are in control of this enterprise. As you may recall on the terms of agreement, they reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments which are posted. The fact that there are several comments which have been deleted, and my letter has been edited by deleting references to those comments, would suggest they felt it was necessary. Therefore, they were finally providing their oversight responsibility. I don’t know how long those comments publicly existed, so it may be that they had been lax in that responsibility. No matter what, the fact that comments were deleted demonstrates that people who had left comments had crossed some line of propriety. This also refutes your statement that it’s about him [Roger I assume], and not you [I take it you mean me]. If that was truly the case, then it would not have been necessary to delete anything, and those comments would still exist. But such is not the case. Your mentality is very reminiscent of similar episodes in our history. One was known as McCarthyism. It was the belief that exposing communists was so important that it allowed people to accuse whomever they chose, for whatever reason, and were above reproach. But nothing gives license to say anything you want and not be accountable. I have never seen any statistics which can verify how many cases have been solved through these websites, but then I have never seen any statistics which shows how many innocent people have been disparaged and the impact it has had on their lives. If the populace is truly unfettered in comment, then we can devolve into another Salem Witch Hunt. You might benefit from also reading about Richard Jewell. It also reminds me of the Duke lacrosse team being accused of rape. And they were actually specified as suspects. Do you remember all the people who marched outside the college house they lived in, the signs they carried, the threats they made? And yet, when it was finally acknowledged that the rape accusation was false, did any of those same people march outside with a sign apologizing for their behavior and comments? No. Why not? Because they are above repraoch and on a path created by good intentions? As I stated in my earlier letter, we all know where that path leads. And this weekend, it has been reported about the girl who was abducted in 1991, and has been found. It has also been stated that her stepfather was specified as a suspect, and he had to live with that accusation all these years. Do you think any of the people who disparaged him have contacted him and apologized? I doubt it.
silver1sb: the comments you have placed are rather puzzling to me. A person doesn’t have to be trained in psychology to raise these questions. According to other websites [Finding Roger Ellison and The Charley Project], it is the firm belief for both you and your brother that I am involved. And yet, you do not reply to the issues I raised. Your lack of reply is curious to say the least. That seems odd given how adamant the earlier statements were made to appear. But what is even more puzzling is your lack of comment concerning the assignment that I gave the detective. Wouldn’t it be normal to ask that I tell you [privately if necessary] what was written by Roger? Unless of course, you already know what was written. And I find it rather odd to think that the detective would keep such information from the siblings, especially after the passing of the parents. Plus the written comments made by Roger on that assignment, and what the detective learned, gives understanding to the comments posted by Chief79 concerning misinformation about his life, why things are never what they seem, and finally what Roger may have been looking for. So if this is truly about Roger, wouldn’t it behoove you to provide that information? It would give more insight into the case and his life. So please provide the public with the most accurate information possible. It may be invaluable in helping to understand the events, provide a direction that is more realistic, and solve this case quicker.
Well sleuthies, I am done. I will occassionally return to see how you all are doing. I hope to someday read that Roger was found and his life is going well. But keep in mind, this is not a game. Yes, the missing person is the focus, but when you start publicly pointing a finger at someone, that person becomes a focus, and the posting of any rumors can have a substantial impact on that person. That too is a micarriage of justice. And if you are all about justice as you claim, then I would think you would be extra diligent before posting comments. You do not get “brownie points”, gain weapons, nor move to the next level for such rumors. Finally, you are not above reproach. This type of forum tends to be participated in by like-minded people which creates a mindset known as “groupthink” [I have actually been able to learn some things myself in teaching psychology]. What this does is eliminate critical evaluation which may be necessary. True believers cannot abide with any questions which raise the possibility that they may be wrong, or excessive, in their approach. So once again I must say, no matter how well-intentioned your goals may be [and I do believe such forums are necessary], it does not excuse one’s statements, nor actions.
Post your thoughts to my blog. -– Lori