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


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.


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.


And finally, later in the day, this.

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.


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.

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