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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1998 > Jun > Jun 11

Who Is Jerome Clark? [was: Corso, Stacy & Birnes]

From: The Duke of Mendoza <101653.2205@compuserve.com> [Peter Brookesmith]
Date: Wed, 10 Jun 1998 19:54:16 -0400
Fwd Date: Thu, 11 Jun 1998 18:31:57 -0400
Subject: Who Is Jerome Clark? [was: Corso, Stacy & Birnes]

With the compliments of the Duke of Mendoza:

>To: "UFO UpDates - Toronto" <updates@globalserve.net>
>From: "Jerome Clark" <jkclark@frontiernet.net>
>Subject: Re: UFO UpDate: Re: Stacy, Corso & Birnes
>Date: Fri, 05 Jun 98 09:59:53 PDT

>> There are even people who have thought that Phil Klass
>> would chuck them into the Chesapeake Bay riddled with
>> bullets, or some such thing, should they take up an
>> invitation to go sailing with the Dread Debunker.

>Don't know that guy, I'm afraid, though once Klass made
>a "joke" to that effect to me, in the course of a fairly
>abusive communication.

Presumably then it is some other Jerome Clark entirely, of whom
no one but Klass - obviously suffering one of his habitual
delusions - has previously heard, but of whom Klass writes in
SUN #51 (May 1998), page 7 [see note below]:

"I concluded my letter [of 8 April 1984] to Clark as follows:
'If business or pleasure should bring you to the DC area, I
invite you to join me aboard the "Hanky Pank," but warn you of
the dangers of the mysterious Chesapeake Quadrangle in which
many UFOPs (UFO Promoters) have disappeared mysteriously. A few
have been found with their bodies riddled with bullet holes.
Some who are anxious to keep the Cosmic Watergate under cover,
will stop at nothing.

"Clark responded in friendly fashion, indicating that he
recognized the foregoing was intended as a joke. So my May 14,
1984 letter to Clark concluded: 'The yacht Hanky Pank made her
maiden voyage of 1984... Perhaps you will join us someday (and
your body will be found floating in the Chesapeake).'

"Clark replied on May 21, saying that he considered my May 14
letter to be a 'death threat,' and not a joke. 'Unless you make
a full, immediate and unqualified apology, all communication
between us wil cease and I will have nothing further to do with

"I replied on May 25: 'If you honestly believe that ma letter of
May 14 contained a serious "death threat," then I would urge you
immediately to bring it to the attention of the FBI and the US
Coast Guard--the latter because the foul deed would be performed
in its waters. However, if you fear that the FBI and USCG might
think you a dum-dum and a kook, then perhaps you may not wish to
do so. The choice is yours and I will not venture any advice...'

"If Clark reported my 'death threat' to the FBI, the agency did
not pursue it with me. And Clark terminated our correspondence."

[Note: I've made no attempt to reproduce Klass's
idiosyncratic typography, and in the original the last four
paragraphs here appear as one paragraph. I have broken it up
purely for ease of reading on-screen]

Now, I don't think this is a particularly funny joke. But, even
if it were true that "[n]obody... has ever accused Phil of
possessing a sense of humor that rises above the
pre-adolescent", if this report's accurate, we may be forgiven
for wondering - some people may make a book - if Jerome will
*ever* be accused of having a sense of humor again. However, the
Jerome Clark, ufological historian & scholar, English major &
foremost citer of his own deathless prose that we know on this
List, claims not to know the person named "Clark" referred to in
this item. So perhaps we need not fear for the integrity of
*our* Jerome's memory & general accuracy as he approaches old

It's conceivable, of course, that Klass is selectively quoting
*our* Jerome and misrepresenting his meaning. Perhaps the Jerome
Clark *we* know would enlighten us with further details of his
side of the correspondence - if, of course, Klass is indeed
referring to him. (If he's not, perhaps Jerome could do us a
little piece on this doppelganger.)

It would be ironic, or poetic justice, or a case of squabbling
pot and kettle, were Klass to be misrepresenting through
selective quotation and distortion. Because in this very same
post, we find Jerome repeating an ancient canard about Klass.
Here it is:

>Speaking of believing anything:
>Klass believes that ufology is tantamount to Communism,
>among other odd and idiosyncratic notions.  Ah, what
>one has to believe to be a Dread Debunker.

And what economy with the truth one has to practise to demonize
Philip J. Klass successfully.

I see from the latest edition of Fortean Times (No 112), which I
had cause to confiscate from a malingering tweenie-maid this
morning (No 112), that in its correspondence columns as well,
Jerome is repeating his carefully warped and essentially
inaccurate version of the incident on which this slur is based.
If you repeat not-quite-truths often enough, you end up
believing them yourself.

But I must admire Jerome's sheer brass bollocks in repeating
this in a post responding to one of mine, for this is a matter
up on which I took him with some acerbity but a few weeks ago on
another list. Surely, he cannot be twitting me? Wouldn't that be
ad-hominem? Might it even bespeak an inkling of mischievous
humor? Whatever can this mean?

If it means Jerome wants to go through the whole thing again,
then I'm game, and this time I'll finish the job. In the course
of a spate of Klass-bashing - which included a vast deal of
vacuous ad-hominemery, plus silly wagers and even one anonymous
post: but not a single instance of Klass's allegedly legion
wicknednesses - Jerome commended a list member to his 1991
article "The Debunkers vs the UFO Menace; Or, Is Ufology
Tantamount to Communism?"

In that piece, Klass and his statements are variously
represented as "peculiar", "ludicrous", "desperate", a member of
the "debunking thought police", "scurrilous", "McCarthyite", and
(by implication) "irrational", "crazy", "lunatic" and "nutty",
for (allegedly) maintaining that ufology is tantamount to

Ironically, the whole article is weakened somewhat by its
author's incapacity to distinguish between the notion that fans
of a UFO cover-up lend support to the Communist movement (which
Klass maintained) and the notion that *ufologists as a class* do
so (which Jerome maintains Klass maintained). Without knowing
who were the cover-up artists to be featured at the Lincoln
conference in question, a detail omitted by Jerome, it's
impossible to judge just how eccentric Klass was being in this

In the course of following exchanges, Jerome failed to identify
the cover-up artists in question, although he managed to say
quite a lot else. But the difference between a bunch of
conspiracy addicts and ufologists at large ought to be plain
enough. And it ought to be as clear as a curly red hair in a
glass of warm gin to Jerome, given his general outlook on
conspiracy theories in ufology.

I think (for what it's worth) that Klass in this case was
overstating the case by a large margin [this is called "meiosis"
by literary critics, Jerry], and stirring up trouble to no good
purpose. Part of the exchange between Jerome and me that
followed went as follows:

>>Do you, Mr. Brookesmith, think it not peculiar, ludicrous,
>>desperate, or McCarthyite to equate ufologists with Soviet

>If Klass had actually done that, Mr Clark, I might. As it
>was, you spent a great many words dancing on a distortion
>of Klass's position. Which was - let us spell it out
>again, the way we have to with everything - that
>ufological cover-up artists undermine the credibility
>of the US Government, and that as there is "no scientific
>evidence to support the claims of the presenters... these
>organizations, by publicly questioning the government,
>lend support to the Communist movement." However eccentric
>that position is - and, please note, I don't quibble with
>your calling Klass meddlesome, etc - it is patently not
>the same as the generalization that ufologists are to be
>equated with Soviet agents. But, having put the idea into
>Klass's head, you granted yourself licence to plaster
>Klass with such epithets as "peculiar", "ludicrous",
>"desperate", "scurrilous", "McCarthyite", as well as -
>most temperately, of course - "irrational", "crazy",
>"lunatic" and "nutty".

>The ad-hominemery here is inextricable from the
>distortion, for the one follows from the other. So,
>if I were you, I should worry more that those who
>were capable of observing how you travestied Klass's
>position might wonder to what extent your other writings
>are built on misrepresentation and factitiousness. I say
>that without regard for our ufological differences, too.
>You may like to think about that.

To judge from his somewhat dyspeptic and ad-hominem response to
this, and his blithe repetition here of this hoary old canard,
Jerome did not think about it much at all.

I've long found it interesting too that in his treatment of the
RB-47 case in his UFO "Encyclopedia", which is so admirable in
so many other ways, Jerome dismisses Klass's interpretation of
the data as a series of unlikely coincidences. But he doesn't
mention that Klass presented that interpretation to the RB-47
crew, who agreed that the "UFOs" were the product of human error
& excitement combined with ghost echoes on the radar. This is a
key item in Klass's analysis. Surely it was not just dislike for
the man that led Jerome to omit it?

I am greatly looking forward to reading Brad Sparks's treatment
of this case in the second edition of the UFO Enc., given that
Jerome has hinted that the article will bolster the argument for
the ETH. Meanwhile, I am genuinely saddened to find my respect
for Jerome's claims to true scholarship edging, with no help
from me, toward my opinion of Michael Bolton's excruciating
demonstrations of his claim to be a tenor.

best wishes
Paracetamol D. Megawatt
Head Banger

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