An Open Letter to CJ De Mooi

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Thomas Rendle
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Re: An Open Letter to CJ De Mooi

Post by Thomas Rendle » Sat Nov 26, 2011 7:44 pm

Not sure I can agree with any of that Ernie. I certainly don't think we live in a country where we have to be careful about promoting gay rights because of religious bigotry.

Thomas Rendle
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Re: An Open Letter to CJ De Mooi

Post by Thomas Rendle » Sat Nov 26, 2011 7:52 pm

Does it not make a difference that Stonewall is a charity then?

Thomas Rendle
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Re: An Open Letter to CJ De Mooi

Post by Thomas Rendle » Sat Nov 26, 2011 8:06 pm

Ernie Lazenby wrote:
Thomas Rendle wrote:Not sure I can agree with any of that Ernie. I certainly don't think we live in a country where we have to be careful about promoting gay rights because of religious bigotry.
.....do those people expect to turn up to a national prize giving and find the head of the organisation wearing a T shirt bearing a message they don't like while presenting prizes. Overt homosexuality is wrong however one cannot make people accept it no matter what their faith is and those against it have has much right to their thoughts ,provided those thoughts don't become actions, as gay people have to theirs.
All opinions are not equal and equally acceptable. If they don't like it, tough - it's their prejudice. I hope you meant 'overt homophobia' rather than 'overt homosexuality' - if so you'd be wise to correct it.

Steve Rooney
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Re: An Open Letter to CJ De Mooi

Post by Steve Rooney » Sat Nov 26, 2011 8:14 pm

Paul Cooksey wrote:
Jonathan Rogers wrote:The question, to those who say that it would be nice if we could draw a line and move on, was "surely it is obvious that the President himself is stopping us from moving on?"
We could move on if Alex accepted there were faults on both sides and that CJ has already apologised for overreacting. I thought that was the point of the mutual apologies months ago.

I am sorry to go back to the beginning, but:
Lara Barnes wrote:I've every sympathy with his cause, but I didn't think it was appropriate to have the sentiment on the T-shirt in every photograph with junior chess players – under-10s, under-12s and under-14s – promoting a particular sexuality.
The PCC report does not say CJ told The Times or Mr Keene to write what they did. It says that they were not unreasonable to treat the allegation as they did, based on what he told them. It was the phrase "promoting a particular sexuality" which caused allegations of homophobia in the gay media, not CJs call to The Times. I'm happy to accept that Lara did not intend to give offense and is not a homophobe. But asking CJ to apologise to Lara for how this remark was reported seems unreasonable. He was the injured party.

By analogy, if I ran over your cat and the local paper called me a dangerous driver, would you be prepared to defend me? I doubt it. I don't think my good character or excellent past driving record would make any difference to you.

I find myself in an unwelcome position criticising Alex. A number of people I respect have approached me to tell me he is a good person who does a good job. But if you believe:
- Mr Keene's faults cannot be overlooked because does a lot to promote chess in Britain, and
- CJ faults cannot be overlooked because he has worked hard as ECF President
then surely you must believe
- Alex and Lara's good character and work for British chess do not mean they are always in the right.

I hope Alex can find a way to accept that CJ cannot issue an unconditional apology, and remain involved in chess. For my part, I do not seek to support CJ, but rather the ECF objective:
3.11 To make the Company’s services available without discrimination on grounds of colour, creed, disability, impairment, occupation, race, religious or political affiliation, or sexual orientation and to promote equal opportunities in a positive manner.

I think this is more important than the involvement of any individual.
Paul

Thank you for your thoughtful and rational response to this thread which I strongly support. I also concur with Thomas R's view that the forum has become a strange and less welcoming place for sensible debate,

Paul Cooksey

Re: An Open Letter to CJ De Mooi

Post by Paul Cooksey » Sat Nov 26, 2011 8:18 pm

Ernie Lazenby wrote:
Thomas Rendle wrote:Does it not make a difference that Stonewall is a charity then?
No it does not. I think Stonewall do a good job but that's not the issue is it.
Actually, I agree to some extent. I think formal dress was reasonable, for what its worth.

I'm not trying to argue CJ had a right to wear that t-shirt when presenting. Only that the discussion about it resulted in a misunderstanding in which there was fault on both sides. Because I believe there was fault on both sides, I don't think asking for an unconditional apology from CJ is reasonable.

I think both sides have to accept compromise. Apologies were made and accepted. No-one has been left with the impression Lara was malicious or is a homophobe. I do not think her reputation has suffered in the chess community. If anything people have been reminded of the good job arbiters do. By contrast, CJs reputation has suffered a bit, and Mr Keene's has suffered a lot, assuming we allow negative numbers.

I hope Alex can reflect on this, and maybe conclude the matter with a statement of regret that the PCC did not have the authority to punish Mr Keene for his offensive comments.

Andrew Zigmond
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Re: An Open Letter to CJ De Mooi

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Sat Nov 26, 2011 8:38 pm

This debate seems to be going around in circles. One point I would make is that Alex and Lara do have a much lower media profile than CJ or RK and this forum is one of the few outlets for their opinion.

I wasn't sure whether Andrew Farthing asked to speak at Scarborough 2010 or whether he was invited to. Given his clarification I will apologise for jumping to a wrong conclusion. I'm sorry to have to criticise Andrew Farthing in the way that I have as he has done great work on behalf on the UK chess community and impressed me as a gentleman when we played at Scarborough. However, given that he was clearly stung by some of my comments, I cannot understand why he refuses to defend Alex and Lara against far worse insults.

My question remains unanswered. Andrew Farthing - do you condemn the slanders made by Raymond Keene against Alex and Lara? Yes or no?

A final point. If a chess personality of RK's standing chose to blog about this incident (which if not for the Keene slanders and the board's refusal to condemn them would be forgotten by now) and criticised CJ using homophobic slanders I am sure Andrew Farthing and the board (100% rightly) would not be able to condemn them fast enough.
Controller - Yorkshire League
Chairman - Harrogate Chess Club
All views expressed entirely my own

Lara Barnes
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Re: An Open Letter to CJ De Mooi

Post by Lara Barnes » Sat Nov 26, 2011 8:44 pm

It seems Lara unintentionally said something very offensive and CJ overreacted. As I said before, fault on both sides.
I appraoched CJ and asked him if he thought what he was wearing was appropriate for presenting the prizes. He then went into what I can only describe as a hissy-fit/flounce and said that if I felt like that then he would not present the prizes (in a raised voice).

I did not say, intentionally or otherwise, anything that could be construed as offensive.

Had he replied 'Yes, I believe it is appropriate' - then none of this would have happened, as I would have accepted the opinion of The President of the organisation for which a am a vountary worker.

Paul Cooksey

Re: An Open Letter to CJ De Mooi

Post by Paul Cooksey » Sat Nov 26, 2011 8:51 pm

Lara Barnes wrote:I did not say, intentionally or otherwise, anything that could be construed as offensive..
I can not agree, unless the offer to present to adults only was wrongly reported.

Alex McFarlane
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Re: An Open Letter to CJ De Mooi

Post by Alex McFarlane » Sat Nov 26, 2011 8:56 pm

Paul Cooksey,

Lets get the facts straight.

It is agreed that Lara simply said to CJ "I was wondering if you thought your t-shirt was really appropriate for the prizegiving" His reply was "If you feel like that I won't present the prizes." Lara replied, "That's not what I meant." She then sought David and myself to inform us of the conversation.

This sequence is not disputed by either party. CJ had worn a t-shirt before the prizegiving in Canterbury but had changed into a shirt immediately before taking part. None of the control team was aware of CJ's tweet the previous night informing his followers of his intentions. Had we been given such courtesy the whole incident could have been avoided.

Lara's statement was not really intended to reflect on the slogan but his mode of dress. CJ admits he overreacted. I investigated what parents thought. I was informed that there was a feeling that children would be a target of bullying if a picture apeared in the local paper of a child next to CJ wearing that t-shirt. That was the first that I was really aware of the slogan or its purpose. It seemed to me ironic that a slogan designed to prevent bullying could lead to it. As there were concerns about this I may well have banned CJ but it wasn't necessary. When I tried to explain the parental concerns to him he stated that it was the parents problem and dismissed me.
Having spoken with the parents I suggested to him that a compromise was to present to the adults, David said to the British Championship. Both suggestions were turned down. But it should be noted that he could have presented some prizes had he so wished.

Please re-read CJ's apology. There is no apology to the officials concerned. The only personal apology issued was to another official not at the event.

The PCC has based its decision on what it considers to be what CJ said. I queried this and had it confirmed by the PCC. I have asked CJ publicly if he accepts that it was his words which prompted the accusation of homophobia. He has not replied publicly or privately.

At the time of Lara's apology and of the acceptance of his, CJ had denied using the word homophobia. This was taken by all the others concerned to mean that accusations of this nature were not made not simply that he had not used that word. I can produce emails which seem to me to indicate that this was a generally held opinion by people high up in the ECF.

If CJ did not make those allegations as claimed by the Sunday Times then he should deny doing so and help our case. If he did make them then we are owed an apology for all we have been put through.
Martin Regan wrote:There were five basic errors.

1) C J chose to wear a t-shirt wholly inappropriate to his position and the time and place.
2) The arbitors chose to take issue with it, rather than use common sense.
3) CJ over-reacted to 2)
4) CJ went to the newspaper (in my view the main mistake)
5) Keene decided to jump on the bandwagon and made serious claims on Twitter.

1) 2) and 3) have already been sorted by the exchange of apologies between the three parties.

A 6th mistake was then added when Alex decided to use this forum to force the ECF board to
condemn Ray Keene.
Re 2. I think when legitimate concerns are expressed by parents it is common sense to take action. But it didn't come to that. CJ reacted to a simple question.

Re 6. Keene should have been taken to task immediately. When I asked for Board support I was told that it had never been given before when an official was insulted so it wouldn't be given now. I was also told that the silence was for our own good!! A former Director even suggested that we should employ the services of a PR company! Is it any surprise that having been given this truely patronising advice that I went public?

If you can detect a tinge of anger in this reply then you would not be wrong.

Christopher - apologies for wrongly attributing a statement to you. Babysitting and posting here are not a good combination.

Alex McFarlane
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Re: An Open Letter to CJ De Mooi

Post by Alex McFarlane » Sat Nov 26, 2011 8:59 pm

For clarification, Lara NEVER made any 'offer' to CJ regarding presenting the prizes. She was in no position to do so.

Indeed, David even invited CJ to say a few words at the start of the ceremony. An offer which he rejected. This will be verified by all at the prizegiving.

Andrew Zigmond
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Re: An Open Letter to CJ De Mooi

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Sat Nov 26, 2011 9:15 pm

Alex and Lara - my advice to you would be to concentrate on organising excellent congresses such as Scarborough which benefit so many chessplayers in this country and leave the ECF to it. They have shown by this behaviour that they do not deserve you. Let them beg you to reconsider and then dictate whatever terms you like.

I would say that this farago is a massive shame as the ECF was making big progress following the inertia of the Gerry Walsh years and the chaos of the Regan resignations. The recurring problem has been the difficulty of reconciling hard working volunteers who have kept grassroots chess alive with the interests of the establishment elite who waltz in and expect everybody to dance to their tune.

This was all so avoidable as well. CJ at least issued a partial apology and offered his resignation - the board was right to decline it at the time as it was in his power to make amends. Raymond Keene uses his position to make slanders - most people know exactly what he is. Andrew Farthing and the board are clearly incapable of condemning these slanders (what are they afraid of) and as such their position becomes increasingly untenable.

I'm sorry to have weighed into this debate the way I have (my chess colleagues in Yorkshire will hopefully vouch for the fact I'm usually more diplomatic) but my blood has been boiling over the board's treatment of Alex and Lara for too long.
Controller - Yorkshire League
Chairman - Harrogate Chess Club
All views expressed entirely my own

Paul Cooksey

Re: An Open Letter to CJ De Mooi

Post by Paul Cooksey » Sat Nov 26, 2011 9:22 pm

Alex McFarlane wrote:For clarification, Lara NEVER made any 'offer' to CJ regarding presenting the prizes. She was in no position to do so.
My apology to Lara for the misrepresentation. But I have to repeat, even based on your full explanation of events, I can understand why CJ might have had the impression he was being treated unfairly. I assume from you comment "But it should be noted that he could have presented some prizes had he so wished." that you still consider the suggestion of presenting prizes to only adults a reasonable compromise. I cannot agree.
Alex McFarlane wrote:At the time of Lara's apology and of the acceptance of his, CJ had denied using the word homophobia. This was taken by all the others concerned to mean that accusations of this nature were not made not simply that he had not used that word. I can produce emails which seem to me to indicate that this was a generally held opinion by people high up in the ECF.
I do not question this if it was the case, but have to admit I am surprised. I read CJs apology as saying he had not used those words to escalate the issue, rather than to say they could not be applied to it. I was reading cautiously, since I would expect the wording to be very precise in such a document.
Alex McFarlane wrote:If you can detect a tinge of anger in this reply then you would not be wrong.
Apologies for contributing to this anger. I have resisted writing a full reply in this and other threads several times. I do not intend to comment publicly further.

I accept you are a moral person doing what you think is right. But I do not agree with you, and felt that because this has become a public debate on an important issue, I should explain why I had a different view. Again, I'll express the hope you do reach a conclusion that allows you to remain involved with the ECF.

Jonathan Rogers
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Re: An Open Letter to CJ De Mooi

Post by Jonathan Rogers » Sat Nov 26, 2011 9:35 pm

We now await the umpteenth attempt of CJ apologists to play down this matter. Generally, the attempts take the form of

1) "There was nothing wrong with wearing the T-shirt": not the issue. No one told him that he couldn't wear it. Even the suggested compromise was just a suggestion. But anyway, it is astonishing to think that any insensitivity that might be thought to have been shown by the arbiters in dealing with this situation literally at the last minute (having no forewarning at all that the T-shirt would be worn that morning, and complaints from parents just as the event was about to start) is remotely comparable with the fault in CJ's later actions.

2) "CJ already apologised": in fact, never to the people concerned, and in any event the apology had nothing to do with the (as then unknown) remarks to Ray Keene and the later refusal to condemn his article and (even worse) tweets. I for my part had thought he had made an insincere apology rather than no apology at all, but it hardly matters.

3) "Alex and Lara accepted the applogy and we want to move on now": there was no apology to accept but in any event the Ray Keene saga had not yet started.

4) "This is really about Ray Keene, not CJ": hardly. Keene tweets all the time about the marvellous CJ, and apparently spent some days in his company earlier this year. No doubt this was when it was decided to present Ray Keene as unannounced guest at the British. And it seems to have been only Keene to whom CJ spoke after the incident, perhaps thinking him to be the one journalist who would accept his side without question or independent inquiry. Of course it was Keene's decision to write the article and tweets but equally, it's CJ's own decision to refuse to condemn them and to give the impression that he probably still agrees with them - isn't it?

5) "Alex is making a lot of this. CJ has been silent and they should shake hands": it is in the nature of injustices that the victim complains and the perpetrators try to shrug it off! They could put this matter behind them very easily - CJ only has to finally apologise and ideally make a donation to the 2012 British to vouchsafe his sincerity. It is a generous offer from Alex, who has in the meantime been snubbed by CJ and has not been reappointed as Manager of the British. But still CJ seems unlikely to accept it, and so it is because of CJ himself that the matter is still unresolved.

Alex McFarlane
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Re: An Open Letter to CJ De Mooi

Post by Alex McFarlane » Sat Nov 26, 2011 9:42 pm

Andrew,
Thank you for your kind words. They are much appreciated. If the British was not in the NE next year I would have done as you suggest. I think Lara would have followed me. Indeed when it became clear that I was being sacked (no matter how the ECF word it) then it was on my suggestion that Lara applied for the position. This was the only way that we could see of saving the event.

Paul,
I have some sympathy with your view. It is easy to take the wrong meaning from something. However, that does not explain why Mr De Mooi asked people to read Keene's column after he had made the claims he did, nor does it explain why he banned me from emailing him (as we had been doing for some time) when I queried the wisdom of him doing so. As this was over a week after the original incident it is unlikely that he was still reacting to his initial anger.
In addition, can you explain why he tweeted telling people that he would wear that t-shirt at the prizegiving but failed to let any of the control team know? I saw him wearing the t-shirt but don't think I read it, it certainly didn't register. But I wasn't concerned in any way because he had done the same the previous year but had changed into a shirt. As he has never been allowed to wear the t-shirt on Eggheads due to BBC regulations he must have at least considered that it might be deemed inappropriate at a prizegiving.
CJ De Mooi did make an apology but his subsequent actions and lack of actions, to me at least, cast a shadow of doubt over the sincerity of the original apology.

Alex McFarlane
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Re: An Open Letter to CJ De Mooi

Post by Alex McFarlane » Sat Nov 26, 2011 9:51 pm

My previous post was made before reading Jonathan's post.

Obviously we are expressing very smilar points.

You are wrong on one point though. Mr De Mooi did not restrict his media search to just one correspondent. We know from the Observer that he went to them, we also believe that he went to the Telegraph. Jeremy Vine of radio 2 (and sometime Egghead presenter) was also contacted.
I do not know how many others he contacted. His anger obviously lasted a quite considerable time to allow him to contact so many media sources.

We also know that he went to the Times and the Observer the following week offering to write an article on homophobia. It was suggested to us that one of the proposed articles would be based on his experience but he has denied that and we accept that to be the case.

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