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Re: John Algeo's letter

Feb 14, 1997 05:04 PM
by M K Ramadoss

Thanks for your detailed response.

Your idea of finding Algeo's response about publishing the letter is a very
good one. May be it is worth a try.

Again, there is another issue that seem to come up. When the President of
TSA in his official capacity using TSA's resources writes about something
which has a policy implication for TSA, why the secrecy.

If the arguments contained in the letter are very reasonable and solid, then
no one should have any problem in getting it published. All readers will
agree and congratulate the writer for the letter. If on the other hand the
arguments are not substantial, then the writer is not going to look good.

Again, it is possible that in the long run, it may not matter one way or the
other whether it is published or not.


At 05:13 PM 2/14/97 -0500, you wrote:
>>>>Also it would be interesting to see Algeo's letter and
>>>>Tillett's response. What is it that Algeo did not like in
>>>>Tillett's papers and some others. Is he responding in his
>>>>private capacity or speaking for TSA? Is it the new facts dug
>>>>up by Tillet and others or their interpretations or
>>>>conclusions? If Grace Knoche got too much attention, so what.
>>>>Did Algeo want all attention for himself?
>>>Algeo's letter specified that it was not for publication.
>>>Since it was written by him as the President of the TS, it may
>>>very well be a public document.  On the other hand, I think
>>>Algeo's wishes should be respected here.
>>  In a situation some time ago, when there was an e-mail
>>correspondence from an individualm (not from,
>>I felt that the communication was indeed an official one as it
>>came from an official address. When I requested the individual
>>that I would like to post it here, I was told that the writer
>>did not want it to be posted. Then I put the writer on notice
>>that in future if any e-mail comes from an official e-mail
>>address, I reserve the right to post it here since when it comes
>>from an official address and dealt with official matters.
>>As I see it, when the msg originates from an official e-mail
>>address, there is no reason for secrecy in most cases.
>When Paul Johnson reported on the Algeo letter in question, his
>action, perhaps inadvertently, raised some very interesting
>ethical issues.  Personally, I'm glad that he did create such an
>opportunity for these issues to be raised, because I believe they
>are important for Theosophists to consider.  The question Doss
>has raised here is whether or not Algeo's letter should be
>published on theos-l.  Less important than the answer to this
>question, is the reasoning behind the decision one might come to.
>For instance, Doss' argument seems to be based upon legality--
>whether or not a communication from an official source should be
>public.  Another question he might have raised (though it doesn't
>apply to Algeo's letter) is whether a messages sent via e-mail, a
>non-private method of sending messages, should be private.  Doss'
>reasoning seems very solid and is one way of looking at the
>issue.  However, there are several other ways, some of which I
>would like to suggest below:
>Using Kolbergs scale of ethics, we can consider the issue from at
>least five different levels.
>Level 1: Beginning with the lowest level, Algeo's letter could be
>published for reasons of revenge, or as an expression of anger or
>rage.  But I think most of us would consider this a poor reason.
>Besides, I don't know of anyone who is angry at Algeo for writing
>the letter.
>Level 2 concerns a payoff of some kind.  As far as I know, no one
>has offered to pay or bribe anyone into publishing the letter.
>If it was published because of a bribe, I would guess that most
>people on this list would think badly of the situation.
>Level 3 concerns loyalty.  To use myself as an example, I am a
>member of TSA and an associate of THEOSOPHICAL HISTORY.
>Therefore, I might feel obligations of loyalty to these
>organizations not to publish the letter.  Doss, on the other
>hand, is a member of TSA and may feel that the letter is outside
>of his bounds of obligation to it.  Paul, on the other hand, is
>no longer a member of TSA, nor is he associated with THEOSOPHICAL
>HISTORY, therefore, a conflict of loyalty might not be an issue
>at all with him.  On the other hand, circumstances sometimes
>require that we break our bonds of loyalty.  For instance, when
>there is a conflicting legal issue.
>Level 4 concerns the law.  In my case, I would look to the J.D.
>Salinger litigation of about ten years ago.  The courts
>determined that Salinger has legal ownership to all letters of
>any kind that were written by him, regardless of whom they were
>sent, or who is in possession of them.  Therefore, I would have
>to operate under the belief that I do not have the legal right to
>publish someone's letters without their permission.  Someone else
>may not be aware of that litigation, or may have an entirely
>different view of what it means.  For instance, they might feel
>that this ruling would not apply to corporate letters written on
>the corporation letterhead.  Therefore, they may feel no legal
>constraints whatsoever.  On the other hand, the law is not the be
>all and end all either.  Sometimes a greater good may be served
>by breaking the law.
>Level 5 concerns considerations of the greater good.  Well, here
>we have room for all kinds of discussion.  One might believe that
>publishing the letter would enlighten the theos-l audience as to
>the nature of TSA politics, and help to bring about some reforms.
>But one would also have to consider the possible consequences and
>damage that might come from such an act.
>IMO, a solution that would appear to satisfy all of the legal and
>ethical issues would be to get permission from Algeo himself to
>publish the letter.  His reply, whether positive or negative, in
>itself might be instructive.

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