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Re: ownership

I think that we have been through similar debates before, but just for the
hell of it, it is worth thinking beyond standards within the USA when
considering issues such as the ownership of fossils.

>> I submit that certain fossils
>> (and other material) should be national treasures whether it is found on
>> public or private land.
>Individual rights and freedom are more important than fossils. Just
>because you and I happen to _like_ fossils does not give us the right to
>steal them from their rightful owners.

True, but the question is, who are the rightful owners? If fossils are
parts of the collective heritage of all people, who has an individual right
to remove them from the public domain?

>Of course, any person who owns the land, or otherwise properly trades for
>that fossil with the land owner, _is_ the rightful owner of it.

I understand that this is the case in the USA but the case is usually
different in other places around the world. Here in Australia it differs
between states but generally land ownership only extends down the first 18
inches or so, below that is state property (this is common elsewhere in the
world too). Further, some states (Queensland and Western Australia) have
laws where fossils are considered state property regardless of property

>We're supposed to be adults here, decades beyond the childish squalling of
>"I want it, gimme it! Mom!!! He won't gimme!"

Yes, we are supposed to be adults, and this kind of childish argument does
nothing to raise the level of debate.

>The USSR, Hitler's Germany, Castro's Cuba, Red China, and all other
>dictatorships, the existence of which is always rationalized to be for a
>"higher good" than mere individual lives, freedoms, activities and
>happiness. After all, of what importance are those when compared to the
>desires of a political oligarchy? Or a scientific one?

This is a particularly unenlightened view of the subject. As I said above,
most countries have land and property ownership laws different from the USA
and that does not make them all distatorships. In certain situations, such
as the common heritage of a nation, some communal rights are placed above
those of the individual. There is nothing sinister or evil in this view, it
is just another way of approaching the subject.

>Just because something is a law doesn't make it right, rational, or
>practical. I trust you can come up with even more examples of this on your

True, and rights are human constructs that can only be valued by the
collective that creates them. Some societies (such as the USA) have
constructed various individual rights that are dominant over communal
rights. Other societies have done the opposite. I'm not saying one system
is better than the other or that either system has more intrinsic merit. I
am just reminding you that there is nothing absolute about rights and that
different societies do things different ways.

The rest of the post I am replying to was a right-wing rave of relevance
only to the USA and of no relevance to an international list such as this
one whose focus should be dinosaurs! I beg you all to remember that the
world listens to this list and sliding into parochial political view points
is tedious, irrelevant and often offensive.



Dr Paul M.A. Willis
Consulting Vertebrate Palaeontologist
Quinkana Pty Ltd