The Removal of Bill Chambers

Dave Nightingale (
Wed, 8 May 1996 09:27:58 +0000

To all concerned:

Since removing Bill from the net I have received a number of messages (some
private/some public) either endorsing or critiquing my decision to delete
him from this forum. The majority (all but two) of these messages are of
the former type (including one or two from people who were about to
unsubscribe but have now changed their minds). Of the latter, perhaps
Geoffrey Blowers offers the most critical response to my actions.

He writes:

>There are several people on this list who have drawn the valuable
>distinction in the kinds of post sent here by Dr. Chambers,
>between those of a sophisticate in grid analysis, and the
>harangues -- albeit occasionally witty barbs -- at individuals
>who may have aggrieved him in the past. That people object to the
>one kind, and dismiss him outright speaks more of the intolerance
>of those individuals than of value of the Mr. Chambers as a
>contributor to this group.

Two points - Bill's remarks over the last few months have been anything but
'witty barbs' and I'm surprised that Geoffrey sees them this way. Bill's
vitriolic attacks upon various members of this list, his persistent
disregard of any position other than his own, his stated intention that he
will not desist until the Kelly Cult (and this list) have been destroyed -
all of this (and more) indicates to me that it was a choice between
removing Bill, and returning to a list where members could discuss their
opinions in a constructive and supportive environment; or put up with Bill,
and see most of the members desert the list (while those that remained
could put up with the attacks and suffer the consequences). While I would
support freedom of speech I do not think that this means that I or we must
stand by and let anyone say whatever they like. And secondly, anyone who
has watched this debate (or more specifically, talked to any of Bill's
targets) will know the pains that people have endured and the lengths to
which they have gone
to not 'dismiss him outright'. I am amazed at the tolerance that people
have displayed and the genuine concern they have expressed regarding Bill's
thoughts and beliefs. Great efforts have been made to try to understand his
position and accomodate him within this list.

In a similar vein, Geoffrey states that 'we should ensure the rights of all
to communicate'. I don't believe that this is correct (at least not when
applied in a specific sense as Geoffrey does). As a parallel, if Bill had
been a racist (as well as a mysoginist) we would have had no qualms about
removing him from the list. If he had systematically set about attacking
all non-white members of the list he would have been removed months ago. As
it is, his attacks were no better founded. 40 - 50 members of this list
have left within recent months - what about their freedom? They clearly
felt (at least a number of them indicated this to me) that they could no
longer be part of a forum that tolerated the sort of behaviour that
Geoffrey sees as 'witty barbs' ...

And finally (with response to Geoffrey's post) he suggests that we vote to
reinstate Bill. If members wish to do this then I will consider it.
However, intitial responses indicate that most members feel a sense of
relief - a relief that is marred with regret and reluctance, but relief

Bill stated in a previous message:

>After many years of being abused for dispassionate research, I came onto the
>net with a mission. I want to blow the whistle on the Kelly cult. When I am
>through on this little PCP net, I am going to take my message concerning PCP
>to other psychology newsgroups. My arguments against the Kelly cult have only
>been strengthened by the PCP net response to me. They have responded from the
>purview of guilty spoiled little girls, not as scholars.

Had there been a scholarly way to respond to Bill (by his criteria) then
maybe he would have been happier. As it was, all attempts to communicate
with him (particularly by identified 'cult-members') met with hostility,
disdain and ridicule. I, for one, was not prepared to stand by and let him
destroy this list. If you look back through the archives (as Bill was fond
of suggesting) you will see that this list (pre-Bill days) was
characterised by openness, support, tolerance and understanding. I hope it
can recover some of that spirit now that Bill has gone.

And finally, in response to Gary's following comment:

>2. Would you resend, or remind me:

> a)what are 'the aims of this list?' and
> b)what the rules are, and who is authorized, by whom, to enforce
> them?

The aims of this list are to discuss pcp (its relationship to other
disciplines, its theoretical basis, its methodology etc etc etc). There are
no codified rules other than a general acceptance of email ettiquette and,
in all honesty, nobody is authorized to enforce them. I established this
list about three years ago ... I don't imagine that I have any more rights
than anyone else on the list as a result, but I do have (as list-owner) the
practical means whereby I might remove people from the list. It was my
opinion that the aims of this list (in a specific academic sense and a more
general one; with respect to the fall-off in membership, peoples expressed
dissatisfaction with Bill etc etc) that to remove Bill was the lesser of
two evils. We are a (virtual) community of people who must live together in
some sort of understanding and acceptance or must give up our membership of
this group. Bill approached this group as an outsider - I don't believe
that he wanted to be part of the group, and I don't believe that his aim
was to strengthen or enhance this group ... quite the reverse.

All comments regarding my reprehensible behaviour are welcomed.

David Nightingale
Lecturer in Social Psychology
Division of Psychology & Biology Fax: 01204 399074
Bolton Institute of Higher Education Voice: 01204 528851
Deane Road International: +44 1204 528851
Bolton BL3 5AB (UK) Email:

We should not pretend to understand the world only by intellect.
We apprehend it just as much by feeling. Therefore, the judgement
of the intellect is, at best, only the half of truth, and must, if
it be honest, come to an understanding of its own inadequacy. Jung