Speculative Judgement

Update (23-5-2014)

Through investigations conducted on the 28th of February 2014 as a result of proceedings between us and a number of different parties in relation to defamation, we have discovered that many of the links contained herein are to posts that had been taken down around that time. These links will remain broken and we will not make any attempt to re-link them until such time as these proceedings have concluded.

Several months after the initial mobbing that prompted us to write the open letter to the Steiner ‘critics’, we can provide the following insight into why they have turned on a family reporting exactly the same kind of negative and damaging experiences which appear so frequently online.

A recent conversation on Alicia Hamberg's blog is finally clearing this matter up for us as they have admitted quite publicly that their attitude towards us and hatred of us is based on nothing but speculation.

speculation |ˌspekyəˈlāSHən|
the forming of a theory or conjecture without firm evidence:

there has been widespread speculation that he plans to quit | this is pure speculation on my part | these are only speculations.

We are posting this here, as information relevant to the broad Steiner landscape, as these ‘critics’ habitually greet other people who are survivors of Waldorf education.

So it is a matter of public interest that this group is prepared, without firm evidence, to mount a smear campaign about a family coming out of Waldorf education with a very similar story to the ones (largely anonymous) that the ‘critics’ themselves promote as evidence of problems with the Steiner system.

Any impression that the ‘critics’ shared our experiences (which is why it shocked us so much that they turned on us so luciferociously) have now been dispelled. Melanie Byng’s instruction to Angel last August to make sure to say in the article she was writing for the Local Schools Network that “critics ARE in fact whistleblowers”, only served to confuse this issue for us, but recent statements by other critics on Alicia Hamberg’s blog reveal the truth.

Rather than being ‘survivors’ of Waldorf education, it is becoming clear that these supposed Steiner critics are more akin to a quaint gentleman's club where people discuss matters in large comfortable armchairs, drinking fine spirits and smoking cigars. 

That's all well and good in itself, as clearly anyone can talk about anything.

The problem is that this distinction is not generally clear: it may be just an intellectual exercise for them, but not for us, or other families telling a similar story, and it certainly looks as if the ‘critics’ would much rather spend their time translating ancient documents and discussing the finer points of anthroposophy than admitting that there might be anything they do not know about Steiner education, even relating to the experiences of others thousands of miles away.

Also, if they feel threatened, they have shown themselves as a group willing to turn on others who do not share their intellectual interest, but may be genuinely looking for the understanding that the ‘critics’ promise but which the evidence shows that they do not deliver.

The only apparent exception, in terms of the intellectual approach, among ‘critics’ is Pete Karaiskos: his family appears to have suffered, he keeps saying so very loudly, but it's certainly very odd for someone who would know what that felt like, to be so totally aggressive towards others with negative/damaging experiences: “These people have made such a tempest in a teapot about the bullying at the school, that ACTUAL BULLYING may continue – because people will assume this is all made up.

When whistleblowers like us arrived, damaged, shocked and bloodied, and started to be vocal about what had happened to us, it was probably only a matter of time before this comfortable group started to complain.

Melanie Byng (who tweets under the name ThetisMercurio) came out with it first months ago when she told a new survivor: “we were so lucky that our children weren’t hurt in this way”. She has also told us, and has recently tweeted, that she was part of a group that started a Steiner school.

Then, more recenty, Diana Winters came out with: “True. I’m plenty scarred, but it wasn’t by Waldorf, and my son barely remembers Waldorf In fact, I don’t think he would remember it at all, if I hadn’t kept the issue alive.

And even Alicia Hamberg, who went to a Steiner school and whose Steiner-critique blog many critics rally around said: “I’m certainly no more of a survivor than anyone else […]. But, no, I don’t consider myself a survivor of waldorf education”.

So by their own admission, none of our most ardent attackers claim any damage by Steiner Education either to themselves or their children if they have any. 

This is likely to be the true explanation of why they don’t appear to understand the whistleblower perspective. How could they? It also begins to offer an explanation of the ‘secondary wounding’ scenario they’ve unfortunately been involved in towards us for nearly a year. 

Unable to put themselves in the shoes of someone whose experience they do not share, they even use the fact that one of us has a walking impairment to further attack us:  “She’s not only shooting herself in the foot, now… she’s shooting the bullied children too!” (this comment is connected to a string of others)

It seems that ‘critics’ have an agenda to 'run' Steiner criticism their way, and that it's therefore important for them to warp what we say in order to get us to go away and leave them to their spirits and cigars. 

While it might be hard to understand why people who claim to be critical of Steiner education would publicly attack any family for speaking out, there is no doubt that this is what is happening, and there is evidence of active and deliberate dissemination of false information to achieve social exclusion and reputation destruction.

There have been numerous recent statements about us, which are not backed up by evidence but which are clearly designed to skew public opinion against us. 

Statements like:

they don’t have my cooperation or my endorsement — and they have absolutely no right in the world to demand it.” [link]

Except we haven’t - so why does Alicia Hamberg want others to believe that we have?

if I had a child in a class in which Steve or Angel were a continual presence” [link]

Except parents aren't allowed into Steiner classes, as they should know if they consider themselves the experts. We never attended any class at the Steiner school. The record shows that we made arrangements to be present in the playground for the first 2 weeks of the new school year (after realising in a short trial period at the end of the previous one how "boisterous" the mixed age class of 17 boys and 5 girls were, and discussing it with the teacher). The arrangement the teacher and we arrived at was something another parent was doing as well, although we only learned that much later on.  

The school moved against our family 3.5 months later. So the expulsions had nothing to do with being there at lunchtime, to help an understaffed school to make sure all kids were safe.

Making a charge of ‘human rights abuse’ appears to me a ridiculous move that makes a mockery of human rights and real abuses.” [link]

This speculative opinion, from a supposed ‘critic’ of Steiner, who wasn’t there, against people advocating for children in a system in which critics themselves acknowledge the reality of unchecked bullying, is pretty extreme.

It makes me very angry that people would abuse a system intended to address ACTUAL human rights abuses in this fashion.” [link]

Diana Winters claims that as well as her own speculation, it is our ‘interactions’ that have led her to her prejudicial point of view. Yet the record shows that we’ve only ever interacted with Diana Winters when she was actively mobbing us. You will not find any other dialogue between us. 

Our vocal objection to that specific treatment, is her only justification for her speculative desire to destroy our initiative.  If you object to being beaten up, you’re really asking for it. This is nothing but a classic bullying technique.

And that's only the tip of the iceberg. The misrepresentation of us through vague suggestions not backed up with any evidence actively continues

they […] called people some interesting things” We have been nearly always polite throughout all the mobbings (both on Alicia’s Blog and on the Waldorf Critics website) but yes, after days of attacks against us and our work, and our sense of humour, and the realisation that they would continue to attack us whatever we said we called thema load of mealy mouthed old matrons”. But that truly pales in comparison to their name-calling, swearing and insults.  

Repeated ad hominem attacks on the Waldorf Critics website in direct contravention of stated posting rules, which nobody has objected to, further evidence the way that normal rules are being set aside by ‘critics’ in ‘interactions’ with us. The recent admission of speculation as the basis of ‘critics’ behaviours described and evidenced herein, reveals that the rules are being set aside in order for a sizeable group of people, to sideline, ostracise, mob, dismiss and defame whistleblowers, or in the case of the many bystanders, to allow whistleblowers to be publicly sidelined, ostracised, mobbed, dismissed and defamed.  All this so they can all go on appearing critical of Steiner education.

The admission that such harsh and continued public judgement is speculative also indirectly addresses the gate-keeping questions we were asking directly about in our Open Letter.

Alicia stated her reason for banning us from her blog:  “I had to stop it, because what they wanted to do, there was no way in this world I could allow, and it wasn’t even remotely relevant.

At the time, she used more colourful language: “I owe it to nobody to allow their demented drivel [ie, vile slander] to be posted on *my* blog.

We completely agree that Alicia Hamberg doesn’t “owe” us anything, and there is no evidence anywhere that we've ever claimed that she does, in spite of her unevidenced insistence that we have, but that statement can hardly be held as a justification for mounting an aggressive smear campaign and repeatedly mobbing us.

If you’re interested to see what we said that got us branded as liars and mentally unstable, you can read about it here.

In admitting that all their judgements are based on speculation, they are admitting that they have no evidence for any of the defamatory utterings they keep coming out with.

They are admitting that they are doing all that, as a group/gang, out of pure prejudice: “It is speculation, of course” and “These statements are speculation about how the school may have reached the decision it did”.

So without any firm evidence, basically because we’ve called them on their own mobbing behaviour, they've decided to tell everybody that we've made the whole thing up. That there wasn’t really any bullying in that Steiner school (no matter how many other people corroborate it) or if there was, it was only as mild as they allow, so by complaining about it, we’re pulling resources away from “real” abuses. These are the speculative announcements of the Steiner ‘critics’, unchallenged by any individual ‘critic’.

The intellectual snobbery of this group goes as far as to publicly suggest that the Human Rights are too stupid to realise that we are mocking them.

Those Steiner ‘critics’ even "admire the principal" who expelled a bullied child and her sisters, calling his actions an "elegant solution"... And then state repeatedly, that this statement isn't about our kids at all, and how proud they are to have said it. As Diana put it, “It is an eloquent piece of writing.

Yet, although not one supposed 'critic' of Steiner education has dared to speak out against this obvious smear campaign, even someone who doesn’t agree with our general point of view stated that Alicia’s comment was “deeply offensive”.

The Steiner ‘critics’ even express their hope that the Human Rights people find their pages, see what kind of people we are and stop our mediation process. The patronising inference is that the Human Rights haven't thought through their involvement at all, before these mobbing ‘critics’ came to the rescue, and, once they realise that others are mobbing us through speculation and prejudice, all will be put to rights, because as they will doubtless agree, speculation is at the heart of all critical thought: “I sincerely hope that someone from the tribunal whose time and money they are wasting (presumably at tax payers’ expense) will be directed to your blog”.

Diana Winters is sure that’s why we want “posts removed” from the internet in case the Human Rights would find them. Oh dear. Whereas in fact we’ve never said we wanted any ‘posts’ removed at all.  It was just a couple of sentences, except that now they’ve all praised Alicia for writing them, there’s a few more in the same vein, albeit with some snivelling caveats that it’s all “speculation”.  

It doesn't surprise us that Diana thinks this though, as there is plenty of evidence that she, and Pete Karaiskos, (and how many others) simply accept what one or another says about us, without checking it out:

"thanks for your summaries (this way I don’t have to read it all)." [link]

"This is very sad. I thought these people were legit. Now it seems they’re here to undermine the credibility of critics." [link]

I hope it’s not too crass to point out that if we wanted the things that the ‘critics’ have written to be secret, we wouldn’t keep talking about them, would we?

They've clearly stated that they hope our mediation fails, all based on speculation.  This is a mediation to try and reach a resolution on behalf of children: “I hope they fail the mediation”.

So how does it feel to be in this situation? Well it’s probably hard to imagine, but the truth is that we don’t really have much time to think about that, because we feel it’s important to counter this smear campaign of misinformation, intended to destroy our reputation based on speculation and prejudice, and set the record straight.  

The unbelievable yet unarguably apparent tendency of people calling themselves ‘skeptics’ to all jump on the band wagon without seeing, or even asking to see, any evidence has convinced us that it’s very important to draw attention to this, certainly unskeptical but, more importantly, immoral way of actively inviting and then turning on other families: 

you couldn’t have known what you were getting into.” [link]

Know that you are not alone and have the support of many here.” [link]

It’s unlikely that many people reading this will know what it is like to have a group with whom, like it or not, you have shared interests, attack you, your integrity, your work, and your family like this, and we know that, due to the numbers of followers they have, their smear campaign can be, as it is intended to be, damaging, especially as we’re censored from posting any evidenced defence on Alicia's blog (there’s a reason for that).

It is nevertheless important to point out that claims to skepticism or critical thinking are worthless when the same people are prepared to mount such attacks and then frame any objection as harassment, and all purely on the basis of speculation.

We submit that the politics within any movement, but certainly one that exists in criticism of, or opposition to, a controversial system of education are relevant in any examination of the state of that system, and in evaluating the likelihood of effecting changes.

That those who belong to the club do not believe in this relevance is concerning for others, who may, as we did, assume, for the same reasons we did, that 'invitations' and 'assurances' are bound to be genuine. It is sad to have to document that in the case of the Steiner ‘critics’, this is certainly not necessarily the case.

The following points are necessary to restate, as the smear campaign shows no sign of abating: 

  1. 1.Alicia Hamberg has not been asked or requested by us to "promote" our work on her blog. Only during Steinermentary’s launch did we do a poster campaign and canvass several people to see if we could show international concern. Alicia said no, which was fine. There is no evidence that we had any problems with her declining to help - the shocking thing is the willingness of others to drink all the hyperbole in. It is simply untrue.

  1. 2.Although we are now blocked and banned from most ‘critic’ websites, twitter-feeds, and from commenting, even when information we can provide is being actively requested, we have at no point blocked, banned or refused to engage with any of the people mentioned here, or any other critic. The game of reputation destruction by spreading untruths about people whom you are not prepared to talk to, is ‘the critics’ game, and one which they are playing alone.

  1. 3.We have never said that we wish Alicia Hamberg to remove any posts, but have only requested politely that she remove any statement that suggests that in traumatising children, the school did something elegant. We do not consider that we should have to prove any trauma to our children in order for the suggestion that such actions against children are “elegant” to be offensive. Further, qualifying such statements with cowardly caveats to the effect that it's not the ‘critics’ fault if our children have us for parents, does not remove the offensiveness nor the arrogance of such hateful speech.

    These are the only statements that we feel cross a line of decency due to the fact that they concern children, making free-speech into a weapon, and although Alicia Hamberg blithely takes advantage of Wordpress’ support of freedom of speech, whilst writing multiple smearing blog posts with Angel’s name in the title, it would require a US court order to have any hope of forcing the removal of these offensive sentiments.

    For clarity, our position is that the comments (now in plural) we object to should be removed (and in fact, were they to be removed, Alicia and Diana and the other ‘critics’ would still be able to happily enjoy dozens of pages of almost pure personal insult against us to make them happy).

    We will not change our position regarding the expression of speculative hateful statements that concern or affect children.

  1. 4.We will continue to work on the premise that if you fall in a hole in the road and don't warn others about it, you will bear some of the responsibility when someone else falls into that hole after you, if you don’t warn others about the potential dangers before someone else gets hurt.

    Diana Winters has called thisvictim blaming’, whereas publicly hoping that the Human Rights charge us for having wasted their time, having duped them to take on our case, is according to her, not. Through their willingness and desire to change from enthusiastically welcoming whistleblowers to attacking them, the critics have revealed another hole in the road, which we have identified.

    Sadly by ostracising, publicly mobbing and attempting to discredit whistleblowers, the critics have arguably made it less likely that other survivors of Steiner education would have had, or will have, the courage to blow the whistle, even while the inception of public funding for Steiner communities in the UK makes the necessity of it more likely.

1861-2011 : 150 years of Rudolf Steiner

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