8.25.2008

progressive people are not always nice

I'm accustomed to getting nasty emails from warmongers and wingnuts, but not from progressive people, and not over... well, over what exactly, I'm not sure.

I debated whether or not to make this public. Opinion is divided on proper etiquette: when someone sends a gratuitously nasty email, is it your right to make it public? Your opinions are welcome.

But here's what happened. I saw this post at The Common Ills. Common Ills frequently blogs about war resisters, and of course I appreciate that, so I like to check in now and again. Like most of my blog reading, my trips there are sporadic, so if there's a running theme, I could easily miss it.

So in this post, Common Ills says, about Robin Long, "he was extradited (not deported)". Common Ills has since changed the sentence; it now links to two earlier references to extradition. These were not here when I first read it.

I was surprised by the phrase "he was extradited (not deported)", since the resisters' lawyers refer to Robin as having been deported, and the Campaign does the same. I was under the impression - again, from movement lawyers - that he was not extradited.

Common Ills doesn't have comments open, so I sent the following email.
Subject line: thanks for your post on robin long

Hi,

Thanks for your continuing attention to the war resisters in Canada.

To clarify, Robin Long was actually deported. He was snagged on a trumped-up immigration charge, arrested, then deported. It wasn't an extradition. The Canadian government is avoiding extradition, as it will make their complicity with the US too apparent. Instead, they are denying them refugee status and then saying, your time here is up, you must leave. That is deportation or removal. It gives them a more palatable (they think) fallback position. We intend to continue to expose them, of course.

Thanks again for your post about Robin and your links to the War Resister Support Campaign site.

Laura K

I sent it from my personal email address, with my full name.

This morning I received this.
Subject line: You got your law degree when?

Jess here.

There's no need for you to e-mail to clarify anything and, in fact, you haven't.

I'm not in the mood to be word nicely because I know of your interactions with Rebecca and Mike.

C.I. has gone over this and over this and what law degree do you hold?

Robin Long was extradited.

Journalist free lancer that you are, you are not a lawyer.

Not only will I match C.I.'s legal knowledge up against yours, I will throw my mother -- a lifetime member of the National Lawyers Guild -- and her knowledge up against you as well as my law professors knowledge up against you.

C.I. actually used "extradited" during the week Robin was extradited. But then pulled back until speaking Saturday morning with attorneys and judges in Canada. At which point, July 19th, extradited wasn't just the term, it was the right term. Presumably you are familiar with Michael Byers? What term does the chair in Global Politics and International Law (University of British Columbia) use -- "deported" or "extradited"? He uses extradited. Does so publicly and began doing so July 20th.

I have no idea why you would try to "clarify" a damn thing with C.I. Robin was arrested?

Thanks for that 'news flash.' Reality: C.I. covered that in real damn time and so did we at Third. We damn well know the story. And don't need you rushing over to say, "Oh, let me tell you!" something we damn well already know.

You don't know what you're talking about legally (YOU'RE NOT EVEN AWARE THAT MCTAVISH USED THE TERM "EXTRADITION" THE MONDAY OF THE DECISION IN OPEN COURT!!!!!) So don't write unless you have some news to pass on. News to pass on is "-- an event is being held" and something similar.

I was stunned. No exaggeration: stunned. I re-read my original email, to see if I had perhaps unwittingly used harsh language. (I don't know why I would have, I had no harsh feelings.) Perhaps I came across as didactic or presumptuous. I know I can. But still, is this nastiness warranted? And what interaction with Rebecca and Mike? I can't recall any.

In my confusion, I emailed my response in different parts. I know that's lame, but, well, I couldn't think of how to respond all at once.

My first reply.
Geez. Get a grip. This is what our lawyers have told us. Obviously you know otherwise. That's fine. No need to attack.

Best to you.

Laura

Second reply.
Jess, if you don't mind, what interactions have I had with Rebecca and Mike that would lead you to be so nasty to me?

I thought my interactions with CI were all positive. But I may have forgotten something, as I have memory problems from a health condition. If you didn't mind filling me in, I'd appreciate it. Thanks.

L.

And finally, later in the day, this.
Jess,

I'm re-reading your email, and I am positively baffled. It's as if we were having an argument that I didn't know we were having.

I truly meant only to clarify. I didn't "rush over" - I was just reading. And I didn't know you've "been over this and over this". It was the first time I had seen anything mentioning extradition.

The lawyers who help us at the War Resister Support Campaign always use the term deportation. They never use extradition. Thus my email.

If I'm wrong - which I understand I am, you've made that very clear - why not just tell me? Why lace your email with venom? Why be so mean, when we're both on the same side?

I just can't understand it. I'm accustomed to getting nasty emails from warmongers and other right-wingers, but not from fellow progressive bloggers. I hope you'll return to explain.

Laura

This kind of thing is really hard for me to understand. It seems so outside the usual blogosphere ethos.

While I was deciding whether or not to make this public, I showed Allan the blog, and he immediately noticed this on the sidebar.
Threats and abusive e-mail are not covered by any privacy rule. This isn't to the reporters at a certain paper (keep 'em coming, they are funny). This is for the likes of failed comics who think they can threaten via e-mails and then whine, "E-mails are supposed to be private." E-mail threats will be turned over to the FBI and they will be noted here with the names and anything I feel like quoting. This also applies to anyone writing to complain about a friend of mine. That's not why the public account exists.

38 comments:

impudent strumpet said...

when someone sends a gratuitously nasty email, is it your right to make it public?

I'm sure it is your right under free speech or whatever, but I don't think it's very nice to take a private conversation (especially one that you initiated) to a more public medium without the consent of the other party, especially when you're naming the other party.

L-girl said...

Thanks for your opinion. It gives me pause, because I trust your judgement.

I wasn't asking free speech-wise, I was asking niceness-wise. So thanks, I'll consider.

L-girl said...

Then again, why should I be nice to this person?

James said...

Then again, why should I be nice to this person?

Well, you are trying to fit in in Canada, eh? :)

L-girl said...

Well, you are trying to fit in in Canada, eh? :)

Step right up! Watch my inner New Yorker battle with my newborn Canadian!

redsock said...

Abiding by the other person's clearly-stated standard of privacy seems proper.

M@ said...

If you were printing it in order to mock or belittle his reply, then it might be a little out of bounds.

If he replied in good faith and explained his response, and you didn't print that, it would be in very bad faith.

And someone who posts a disclaimer like that definitely doesn't seem to want or need any protection, either for their privacy or their feelings.

As it stands, I don't think you've done anything wrong.

(And I hope it goes without saying that I wouldn't have expected you to do any of the hypothetical things I mentioned; they were only for contrast.)

deBeauxOs said...

l-girl said: "Perhaps I came across as didactic or presumptuous. I know I can."

Is that a statement of fact or a rhetorical question?

Reading your blog makes me cringe. I agree with you. You come across as didactic and presumptuous.

Kim_in_TO said...

Wow. Progressive people are sometimes assholes.

In all seriousness, I think I've told you about my dealings with the ultra-left. You can work alongside people in harmony and think they are your closest allies, and find out that they have ulterior motives and that you wind up in warring camps, even though you are fighting the same cause. (And then again, some people are just not nice people. And others are nice except they once in a while get up on the wrong side of the bed.)

Anyway, you're not sharing information that pertains to another person's private life (remember the discussion about "gossip"?); you are asking people's opinions (in your usual, thoughtful manner) about discussion of an important issue, and also about behaviour on a website which is of interest to a lot of your readers. I believe you have every right and reason to publish it here - and I am grateful for the discussion.

redsock said...

Reading your blog makes me cringe.

Hey cocknugget, no one's got a gun to your head. ... There's plenty of other words in the world.

M@ said...

Reading your blog makes me cringe. I agree with you. You come across as didactic and presumptuous.

Indeed. How dare a blogger have strong opinions! It is to cringe!

Therefore, please provide equivocations on the following subjects immediately:

- reproductive rights
- safety of war resisters
- your anti-war position
- race equality

As soon as you eradicate these ridiculous didacticisms and presumptions from your blog, it will be worth reading. Until then -- good DAY, ma'am!

M. Yass said...

Hey cocknugget, no one's got a gun to your head. ... There's plenty of other words in the world.

Allan . . . please . . . don't hold back . . . tell us how you REALLY feel!

M. Yass said...

He wasn't extradited, he was deported. Military offences are not extradiatable under the U.S.-Canada treaty. That's why Trudeau told the feebies to get stuffed when they wanted his help to "bring back those draft dodgers."

L-girl said...

As it stands, I don't think you've done anything wrong.

Thanks, M@. You're right, I wouldn't have done any of the other things you mentioned - and I wouldn't have done anything if he had responded and explained at all.

I guess I was bothered enough that I had to share it with people. His own disclaimer helps, too!

L-girl said...

Reading your blog makes me cringe.

But you read it because....?

Because you like to stop by and make snide comments every once in a while?

The last time you did this, I thought you might have had somethng to contribute, so I asked for more information. Naturally you never returned.

So really, your comments are no more than spam.

Why do you bother? If you don't like this blog, no one's forcing you to read it.

L-girl said...

Kim, thank you for the perspective, much appreciated.

Until then -- good DAY, ma'am!

And thank you for the laugh this morning. :)

L-girl said...

He wasn't extradited, he was deported. Military offences are not extradiatable under the U.S.-Canada treaty.

That's what I've been told. Apparently Jess/Common Ills knows better.

Why he chose to explain in this manner is beyond me.

L-girl said...

Hey cocknugget, no one's got a gun to your head. ... There's plenty of other words in the world.

Allan . . . please . . . don't hold back . . . tell us how you REALLY feel!


Perhaps he'll go here for more ammunition.

redsock said...

There are not enough hours in the day for me to read the things I WANT to read. I cannot imagine spending valuable time reading stuff I don't like.

Does he go around to every single blog he does not like and say "I don't like your blog"? Even with the cut-and-paste feature, he must be a very busy man.

deBeauxOs said...

l-girl said: "Perhaps I came across as didactic or presumptuous. I know I can."

My apologies. I thought that you posted this in all sincerity and that you wanted genuine feedback about the incident you described.

I left a comment once, in response to a blog post about the use of "um ....." by bloggers. That did come across as didactic and presumptuous, in tone and content.
My comment noted something about your blog that I thought was inconsistent with the values you espouse.

Every once in a while I'll read something you wrote and vote for it at Progressive Bloggers.

But truly, I thought the observation you made about yourself was intended to elicit feedback, to understand why someone would respond to you in such a nasty way. And that letter was nasty, excessively so.

My response should have been more nuanced; there are times when the bit of feed visible from your blog is not conducive to reading the rest of your entry.

L-girl said...

I thought that you posted this in all sincerity and that you wanted genuine feedback about the incident you described.

I did.

The words you quoted ("perhaps I came across...") referred to the email I sent to Common Ills. I think that's clear.

Your comment "Reading your blog makes me cringe" is gratuitous nastiness. I'm sure if someone left that comment at your blog, you would feel the same way.

I left a comment once, in response to a blog post about the use of "um ....." by bloggers. That did come across as didactic and presumptuous, in tone and content.

My comment noted something about your blog that I thought was inconsistent with the values you espouse.


This is your previous comment, in its entirety:

Since your blog post is critical about the way some bloggers write, may I ask why the 'Reporters sans frontières' logo calling for the boycott of the Beijing Olympics links to your article at Common Dreams.org, instead of connecting to the RSF website?

Now, that really annoys me - the misdirection of blog readers.


Note that it says nothing about inconsistencies with my values.

Thanks for your apology. Perhaps next time you want to tell a blogger you don't like their writing, you will read the whole post first, or even better, don't bother.

Tastes vary. Writing styles vary. If we're not a good match, just don't click. Thanks.

L-girl said...

in response to a blog post about the use of "um ....." by bloggers.

If you go back and read that post, it says nothing about bloggers. Many people assumed I was referring to bloggers, but I don't read that many blogs, and I see the "um..." usage in newspapers and magazines all the time.

Since when is disliking a catch phrase inconsistent with progressive values?

PeterC said...

Hmm, definately rude.

Going through the large amount of verbage at common ills site I think I see why he might have gotten a little hot under the collar due to your comment. Of course, I've just come at this fresh so did not see the story as it developed.... here is my take...

The word he choose to use was extridited. He choose it because of the fact that the deportation was forcibly to the US. According to him, a depotation does not force one to any other particular country. The word extridition was choosen because, and in their opinion, Robin Long was forced back to the US; in spite of the fact that legally it was a deportation.

Meh, your milage may vary, but I could understand becoming a bit miffed. Seems odd to write a nastygram though.

Hope that helps a little.

Nigel Patel said...

Yep, intense opinion can easliy lead to the People's Front of Judea. (or was it the Judean People's Front?)
That's why I don't mix with the precious/smart children at the University.
I'd hate to get beat up for not composting or something.

And I wholeheartedly agree, why the hell should you be nice to somebody who wasn't nice to you!

L-girl said...

Going through the large amount of verbage at common ills site I think I see why he might have gotten a little hot under the collar due to your comment.

...

Meh, your milage may vary, but I could understand becoming a bit miffed. Seems odd to write a nastygram though.

Hope that helps a little.


Peter, thanks, it does help.

I didn't comb through all the posts at Common Ills - as I mentioned, my blog reading is pretty sporadic, and I do find CI posts a bit difficult to follow.

But the way you put it, it does make more sense that Jess/CI would be put off.

The response still seems waaay over the top to me, but you've helped me see where he might have been coming from.

L-girl said...

And I wholeheartedly agree, why the hell should you be nice to somebody who wasn't nice to you!

Thanks Nige :)

Beaten up for not composting, heh.

Jen said...

My 2cents: perhaps your ugly troll came out from under the bridge to stir things up at those other blogs...

deang said...

The reply from Jess was so unnecessarily nasty that I was stunned, too. Nowhere in your tone or wording was there anything to give offense. You were perfectly cordial. I wonder who this Jess person is and if he's like this all the time.

Dharma Seeker said...

My jaw is still on the floor. With respect to sharing the e-mail,anything that arrives in your inbox is yours and you can do whatever you want with it. I would argue that on a niceness scale, if such a thing existed, sharing the e-mail would be neutral. You're letting the author's assy conduct speak for itself.

Besides, privacy doesn't really exist in cyberspace. E-mail accounts can be hacked,or monitored (ie. corporate) and e-mails themselves can be forwarded on. Most people have enough sense not to write something in an e-mail that they didn't want traced back to them. Honestly there is only one person in that exchange that owes the other an apology and it certainly isn't you.

L-girl said...

Thank you a lot, Dean and Dharma Seeker. Jaw on the floor, that was my reaction, too!

* * * *

This has been an interesting collection of responses, not only because it validates my feelings and makes me feel supported, but because I trust people here to be honest, whether or not they agree with me.

M@, Dean, Kim_in_TO, Dharma, Nigel Patel, Jen, M Yass are all friends of mine and wmtc fans, but are also honest, forthright people who would politely but clearly tell me if they thought I was out of line. (I include ImpStrump in that, but I don't know her outside of the blogosphere, I only wish I did!)

L-girl said...

My 2cents: perhaps your ugly troll came out from under the bridge to stir things up at those other blogs...

I wish we could say that our friend Mags had something to do with this, but I think not. Comments are not open at Common Ills.

Jen said...

My 2cents: perhaps your ugly troll came out from under the bridge to stir things up at those other blogs...

I wish we could say that our friend Mags had something to do with this, but I think not. Comments are not open at Common Ills.


A closer look at Rebecca & Mike's blogs shows they don't have comments on either. I guess I'm just quick to blame Mags for everything. For instance, I'm short a sock from the laundry: annoying therefore Mags did it!

Timothy said...

For the record, Robin Long WAS deported, not extradited. There have been previous illegal and unsuccessful attempts to extradite war resisters by the US (such as the police in Nelson's illegal detention of Kyle Snyder http://www.couragetoresist.org/x/content/view/259/89/ ). I know he was not extradited, because deserting the US military is NOT an extraditable offense, according to my lawyer. If it was, I'd be in deep shit up here.

I do enjoy reading the common ills...remember, it takes all types ;)

L-girl said...

Hey, thanks Tim. :)

I do enjoy reading the common ills...remember, it takes all types ;)

Absolutely! Hey, I have nothing against Common Ills. I was over there reading it. I only have something else this nasty email!

Timothy said...

Yeah, the email seemed a little over the top to me as well. It's a sticky issue though, but one I hired a lawyer to research prior to deserting. Another key point in this is that if desertion WAS an extraditable offense, then why haven't 25,000 Viet Nam deserters been sent back to the US?

The Harper government chose to cop out by passing the buck to the immigration courts, who passed the buck back to the Harper government. Then again, you know all this.... This is why I'm hoping for an election. Santa, if Harper gets the boot, we'll call that my next 5 Christmases, k?

L-girl said...

Then again, you know all this....

It's always worth repeating!

This is why I'm hoping for an election. Santa, if Harper gets the boot, we'll call that my next 5 Christmases, k?

I think you're going to get your wish.

JakeNCC said...

I find his email to be completely inappropriate and out-of-line. Sounds like a queen on a very bad day. I should know, I've had similar days but I always regret it later and I'm sure he will also. Would be interested to know if he ever responds to you.

Off topic I thought about you the other day when someone on the CBC said not a single athlete from any country protested for Tibet or against Chinese oppression at the Olympics. Some how I found that rather sad even though I did not personally support a boycott.

Kim_in_TO said...

You know, there was something bothering me about all of this, and it just came to me. I'd read a handout which had advice on dealing with exactly this situation. In this age of email, the technique of making public what was initially a private conversation between two people is becoming more common, and is being used specifically with the intent of dragging more people into a private argument. The handout came with some good, concrete suggestions as to how to defuse the situation. The handout was a part of a seminar on how to deal with High-Conflict People.

The interesting distinction here is that it is always the high-conflict person who is being underhanded and manipulative by taking the argument public. In your situation, it is exactly the opposite. Here, you are dealing with the high-conflict asshole, and are taking it public in order to try to defuse the situation by asking for advice and trying to validate your perceptions (i.e., verifying that there wasn't something in your communication which inadvertently caused the blow-up).

You go.