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"Asshole Sending Hate Mail"

[written October 6, 2001]

Want some insight into what crap the blogger generation is laying upon you and me? Want to see the personal site genre gasping for air as it clings to life?

Read this unaltered series of communications I had with one blogger. This kind of shit drives me up the WALL because it's not only hypocritical, but not even factually correct in the instances it's NOT hypocritical!

Okay, so one day I'm cruising the blogs, having not done so in a while, and I come across this entry:

2001-09-21 - 1:21 p.m.

I don't have much to say these days, and for that I'm sorry.

Anything that I do have to say is fragmented and political. I'm not sure that anyone wants to hear my fragmented, political thoughts. It's just that save these thoughts, life has been really lifely lately. I get up, get dressed and go to class. We have what amounts to group therapy and then I go home. When I get home I do homework, think, try to make Dalhadru a mixed tape, and then go to bed thinking even more. There's some variation - one morning I walk to class listening to music, another I listen to NPR.

In a few hours I'll be going to school to listen to the only person who's opinion I've really wanted to hear this week. He'll be discussing the political and moral issues of retaliation. I'm sort of afraid that I won't be able to get in because it is limited seating. The "teach in" has been going on since 10:30, but I just don't have the energy to go to the whole thing. There were a few other lectures/forums that I wanted to hear, but there was a big gap of time that was filled with ones that I didn't want to hear, so I decided to wait and just go to the one that I really want to see. That also allows me to eat at home and save some money, which is always nice.

I keep wondering how long it's going to be. Right now I can wake up everyday and war is something that will happen, it's what we talk about in theory. When does it become something we talk about in terms of specific actions, happening in specific locations? I know that there are people in uniform, on planes and in boats in which there are specifics, but when does it become specific for thre rest of us? As long as it isn't specific, it's easier to hope and pray that it won't happen.

A girl in one of my classes brought up an interesting point. She lives in a poorer neighborhood in Brooklyn, which is currenly suffering gentrification. (Not in the same way the neighborhood I live in is. They are already on to phase two of gentrification - it's no longer students and artists, but business people, yuppies, etc.) There's been a lot of anti-gentrification action in the neighborhood, which makes sense. Gentrification pushes out the people that have lived there for years, and in current New York housing conditions, there is no where for poor people to go. All of the lower-working class places are becoming middle class and white. And no one wants to live in the ghetto. Although, it's becoming more and more an issue of debate if there really are any "ghettos" left here. Anyhow, to get back to the point, the girl has noticed an increase of American flags and people who three weeks ago were anti-government surrounding themselves in "patriotic" sentiments. She asked the question, since when do these people consider themselves American?

I think that is a really brilliant point. I mean, from a personal point of view, I don't know that I'd consider myself an American. Sure, geographically, that's where I live. But, if being an American means beliving in and supporting this game that we call government, I'll be the first to put my name on the "anti-American" list. I think people need to open their eyes. In this largely Latino neighborbood, there are so many flags. I want to knock on the doors of the buildings with flags and say, "Don't you understand? That is the flag of the nation that brought you the School of the Americas. That is the flag of the nation responsible for the deaths of so many people in your homelands." Women, this is the flag of the country which is steps away from taking away the control you have over your own body, the country in which you only get seventy five cents on the dollar. Is this worth supporting?

Everyone knows that the war on drugs is a joke. And besides, it's so late 80's! Clearly we needed something new, and that's the war on terrorism. Instead of Nancy Reagan telling us to just say no, we have a major metropolitan newspaper writing "wanted: dead or alive" next to bin Laden's face.

Didn't this nation learn thirty years ago that we can't fight pointless battles against unknown enemies?

Furthermore, do we have proof as to who was responsible for the WTC attack? And I don't mean "proof," I mean PROOF. I want proof beyond a reasonable doubt. I want evidence that would stand in a court of law, because, that's where this should be. The United Nations says that it's ok for a country to attack with equal force if they've been attacked. I think that it's wrong for the United States to pick and choose when this country can follow and agree with the U.N. Either you're in or your out, boys.

Speaking of the U.N., maybe this should serve as a wake up call, not as a call to arms. Getting kicked out of comittee after committee on the U.N. wasn't enough. The destruction of American embassys in other countries wasn't enough. Maybe the death of thousands on this soil will be enough. But it doesn't look like it is. People don't want to look at the facts. The facts are that a lot of people hate the United States. The fact is that we can't push other nations around, we can't ignore the ones that we don't like. The fact of the matter is that globalization isn't good for everyone. Shouldn't this serve as a wake up call that the United States needs to look at our policy? Maybe these people that have been pushed around and robbed of a voice should be given a turn to talk.

Speaking of wake up calls, let's think about all the drives and fund raisers going on right now for victims and their families. All of these expenses are stacking up and with bread-winners, out of work, working without pay, missing, injured, dead, who's going to be picking up the tab? How do you make ends meet? If for nothing else, shouldn't this be a wake up call for national health care? Shouldn't the spectre of a socialist democracy be knocking on our collective door?

Speaking of democracy, it's time people realized that we don't live in one. This is a republic. If democracy is as important as people think it is, then it's time for a revolution. You can start by turning off your television and demand that the leader of this nation is elected by the people. Demand legitimate power. Demand that your representatives do what the people want them to do, not what outside interests want done. The first step in this is to educate yourself. Watching the news doesn't count. Turn on NPR, the BBC, read a small press publication - learn everything that CBS, ABC, NBC and FOX doesn't want you to know.

And to the people in all of the surveys lately who said that they would give up civil liberties and allow government supervision of their lives in order to live safer, pick up a copy of 1984. Also, remember that day when you were a kid when you realized that your mom and dad weren't superheroes? It's time to have that day in regards to your government.

So, yeah. I'm angry. I have a lot on my mind. There it is, typos and all. I need to get dressed and head off to my little, protected, progressive school which allows me to pretend that there are still some sane people in the world and that maybe everything will be ok. If everything's not going to be ok I think I'm moving to Canada. Or France.

HOLY SHIT, what is this "1984" book she speaks of? I'VE NEVER HEARD OF IT BEFORE. Maybe if I read it all the knowledge in the world will be bestowed upon me. She acts as though she's the only person in country to be anti-government and anti-war and anti-military. Too bad that's been the popular sentiment, since, uh, one of the vague reference points she mentioned herself.

So I write via e-mail later the same day on 9/21:

Where do I begin? Geez.

First of all, regarding patriotism:

"Anyhow, to get back to the point, the girl has noticed an increase of American flags and people who three weeks ago were anti-government surrounding themselves in "patriotic" sentiments. She asked the question, since when do these people consider themselves American?"

I don't know if you correctly grasp the situation. Further evidence:

"In this last week, I've been angry - at the government, at the press, but not at the people who did it."

It's surprising to me that you miss this, since apparently you live in New York City.

What made this devastating and sad to MOST Americans besides yourself was that this affected innocent civilians. By innocent I mean not just people who have never done anything bad to another, or supported something bad, but also were involved in professions that were unrelated to any sort of dispute terrorist/religious/etc. groups may have with countries like the US.

That you could have lost your mother, who you know to be as warm-hearted and sweet, in the attack should strike some sort of sympathetic nerve in you. These were everyday people. Hell, some of them didn't even live there, they were just visiting the city.

Therefore, I find it hard to swallow such a "brilliant idea" as you incorrectly call it because I think there's a big difference between supporting the government and supporting fellow citizens who are basically your extended family in any sense of the word.

Personally? I think the US government's done many wrong things in its attempt to be the great arsenal of democracy. I may think it has a lot of blame to take responsibility for. I may think its policies have not always ended up good at all. But that is 20/20 hindsight. There are also plenty of GOOD things the US does for the world that you NEVER hear about because it would shatter that sort of strongly anti-government crap which is as guilty of disregarding conflicting data as the government it attacks.

And personally, I may continue, I may disagree with the government, but perhaps unlike you, I am very patriotic towards all people who live in this nation of mine. Doesn't mean I do not care for people in other countries. I just think that all Americans are my neighbor, in a larger sense, and I don't want to see them get hurt.

That you admit to blame the government and the press proves to me that you look at things from a very simplistic viewpoint. It also says to me that you feel you have no power in America because you don't think the American public voted in the people who are in office (however bad they may be) and you don't think that companies make the poor decisions they do like reducing security because their shareholders (that is, people more like you and me) requested that they do.

To be honest I don't really know WHAT you actually believe in and whether you have ANY constructive suggestions for how to make our nation better. For someone who comes off trying to be selfless, it really does seem like the only interests you have are your own.

"It's just that this country's government has pissed a lot of people off, and well, you can only bully the little guy around for so long before he fights back."

I heard this argument when those kids shot up Colombine and the other schools. Ohh, those poor kids, picked on every day. I can see why they felt they wanted to take revenge. You, who a few paragraphs ago, condemn retaliation, justify it with the above paragraph. Your viewpoint is confused. There is NO excuse for killing innocent people, and while the US has killed innocent people of its own, I don't really think you're supporting eye for an eye, now are you?

You equate the war on drugs against a "war" on terrorism? I think one is SLIGHTLY different than the other, and it might have to do with the fact that a lot of people around the world WANT to take some of the drugs that are illegal. I would equate a war on drugs more to Prohibition.

Vietnam a pointless war? Says someone many years later, without living through the time it occurred. You can say it was an INEFFECTIVE war, but I don't think you can honestly say it was without a point. At the time people were afraid of communism taking over the US, and people were afraid of NUCLEAR WINTER. I'd say that was a legitimate concern. Now, do I think Vietnam was a good idea? No, but then again, I didn't live in that time either. It's different now.

And finally, regarding anti-war thoughts and terrorism. Being anti-war is meaningless in itself. It has to be glued together with some sort of effectual diplomatic policy to be used to promote peace worldwide. But, even though there are many acts of violence in Israel that are done out of a want of things that COULD be dealt for, like land, there are plenty of groups out there who do not want anything except destruction of those who they consider a threat. The Taliban seeks to oppress its people. I'd prefer if those people got some property rights and whatnot, but it's not my place to say. That's their culture. But when they refuse to give details about people who create destruction elsewhere in the world, that's where they cross the line, don't you think? I'm not saying bomb them to submission though. I'm saying hold them accountable and DO something about it.

You praise anti-war philosophy, yet you neglect the fact that surely most of the people in the WTC towers were anti-war as well. They just wanted to raise families and make money to support them. But they are DEAD. They had no say in any of it. They did not agree to participate. Your retort may be that the US helped cause it. Maybe it did, maybe it didn't. That much is arguable. But it still doesn't change the fact that innocent people died. People who lived NEAR YOU! Doesn't this hit close home to you?

There will always be militant people. Who seek to do harm to others. Even if we do achieve peace worldwide without an expense to different cultures, as I wish it to be and I suspect you do too, there will always be those people. They are worth going after. Because they don't respond to anti-war rhetoric.

I am a patriot, but I don't necessarily support the government. I am not always anti-war, but that doesn't mean I want to bomb Afghanistan into a "parking lot". I am not a woman, but that doesn't mean I don't wish for women to have equal rights. I am pro-America, but that doesn't mean I support puppet governments and civilian raids and nuclear bomb drops on cities.

Don't you get it yet? The world is not black and white. You claim to know this but you don't. That's why I got pissed enough to write to you. Forgive the personal nature, but I think your liberal opinions (I don't mean calling you liberal to be an insult as I share some liberal beliefs) need to be tempered by some studies of political science and history. Your approach is far too cookie-cutter activist to be convincing to the people you write to in your diary.

This prompts an immediate response both in e-mail and on her web site. From her site:

2001-09-21 - 10:56 p.m.

Just a little announcement-

If you don't like what I have to say, too bad. Please don't waste my time or yours by being reactionary. You don't know me or anything about me. You're seeing words. Words that can be taken out of the context of who I am.

So, basically, because I am three, fuck off.

I don't think she meant "reactionary".

Her e-mail response on 9/21:

I don't know if you correctly grasp the situation. Further evidence:

I don't know if you correctly grasp what I was saying. The people that the girl was talking about are people who, for one reason or another, DO NOT consider themseves to be American. This make come as a shock to you, but in a city as large as New York, there are a lot of people who live here, but do not consider themselves to be American. Some people like to define themselves by something other than geography.

"In this last week, I've been angry - at the government, at the press, but not at the people who did it."
It's surprising to me that you miss this, since apparently you live in New York City.

Apparently, I do.

Just because I am not angry does not mean that I am not disgusted. I think that the emotions I hold for the responsible party are seperate and much beyond anger.

What made this devastating and sad to MOST Americans besides yourself was that this affected innocent civilians.

You assume that I wasn't sad? Buddy, I have cried more tears than you would ever believe. I have held countless friends while they cried. I have held the hand of a woman who has been like a mother to me these last years while she tried to be strong, knowing her partner of ten years is missing, most likely dead.

I just think that all Americans are my neighbor, in a larger sense, and I don't want to see them get hurt.

And I think that I have global neighbors, who I am sick of seeing "get hurt" at the hands of teh government.

It also says to me that you feel you have no power in America because you don't think the >American public voted in the people who are in office (however bad they may be)

They didn't.

and you don't think that companies make the poor decisions they do like reducing security because their shareholders (that is, people more like you and me) requested that they do.

I think it's rather simplistic of you to think that every company keeps the thought of the shareholder as thought number one.

To be honest I don't really know WHAT you actually believe in and whether you have ANY constructive suggestions for how to make our nation better.

That is because you know NOTHING about me and are making half-assed assumptions about one thing that I said.

For someone who comes off trying to be selfless, it really does seem like the only interests you have are your own.

Really? What are my interests?

I heard this argument when those kids shot up Colombine and the other schools. Ohh, those poor kids, picked on every day. I can see why they felt they wanted to take revenge.

I am actually doing in depth research in to this area right now. Get back to me in May and I'd be glad to share the outcome with you.

You equate the war on drugs against a "war" on terrorism? I think one is SLIGHTLY different than the other, and it might have to do with the fact that a lot of people around the world WANT to take some of the drugs that are illegal. I would equate a war on drugs more to Prohibition.

Just this afternoon I head M. Waltzer (who I would like to see you discredit) say this, "We can call this a war just as long as we realize that it is a METHAPHOR."

It is a metaphor, just like the "war" on drugs is a metaphor.

People who lived NEAR YOU! Doesn't this hit close home to you?

People who don't live near me die every day for terrible reasons. Don't think for a minute that doesn't strike me.

but I think your liberal opinions (I don't mean calling you liberal to be an insult as I share some liberal beliefs)

Call me liberal. Call me progressive. Hell, call me radical. None of those words will ever be taken as an insult.

tempered by some studies of political science and history.

SHIT! What have I been spending all that money on? Damn! I wonder if it's too late for a refund.

Your approach is far too cookie-cutter activist to be convincing to the people you write to in your diary.

I wasn't out to convince anyone. I was just getting some thoughts out.

And, being as patriotic as you say you are, you should recognize that the First Amendment is important, and I was just using my right to free speech. If it offended you, too bad.

In closing, I just need to say that you have based your opinion on a lot of false assumptions about me/my feelings/my education. You know, it's a lot easier to attack when you don't know the full story.

Still 9/21, she writes to her livejournal:

i just got my first piece of "hate mail" about my entry.

it kind of makes me laugh because person knows NOTHING about me. it seems that i need more of an education in history and political theory.

HA!

wonder what i've been spending all that money on...

Oooh ooh, I know! Acid tabs? I respond later on 9/21:

Some people like to define themselves by something other than geography.

Okay, so this girl says that some people are waving flags now when they were anti-government before. Either you're saying they aren't actual American citizens yet and therefore can't claim a right to be "patriotic", or they were so anti-America before and now they're waving flags that it's hypocritic.

And this relates to how people define themselves HOW exactly?

Oh and I think where you live geographically usually goes a LONG way towards defining yourself. More than many will admit. I know independent thinkers love to think they are not influenced by anything but reason, but it's totally dishonest to say that as a human being. We're not robots.

I think it was David Brin in "The Transparent Society" who made the argument that right now all the webheads and cybergeeks and whatever silly name they have are banding together to create a society of anti-society people, people who consider themselves independent but really share almost all the same beliefs and ideas. Kinda funny.

It also says to me that you feel you have no power in America because you don't think the American public voted in the people who are in office (however bad they may be)
They didn't.

But, you see, they DID. Just barely convincingly. The people of America pretty much said we can't decide between these two guys, in just about the most evenly split way possible.

I take it since you didn't deny the accusation that you really believe you have no power. Which makes me wonder why you advocate talking to your representative if you don't think it does any good. Oh, and have you heard about what Canada and France are like these days? Not exactly stellar, even from a non-Americentric point of view.

I think it's rather simplistic of you to think that every company keeps the thought of the shareholder as thought number one.

Um, as a stock trader, I do. If you look at it in terms of day to day stuff, it may not appear that way, but basically every company is trying to make a buck, and if a company is perceived to not be trying to do that, or doing it wrong, then its shareholders sell the stock, giving the company less clout, or the shareholders can vote someone out of the board, or shareholders can sue, or any number of things, and in the long run it does actually work out that a PUBLIC company is working in the interest of its shareholders. I should also remind you that the owners also count as shareholders. It's in the company's best interest to make money, right? And who gets the money, for the most part? Shareholders. Salaries are only a small part of any public company's finances.

That is because you know NOTHING about me and are making half-assed assumptions about one thing that I said.

I consider it irresponsible to criticize people for their apathy when all you're doing is criticizing people yourself.

In that respect I don't need to know any more about you than what you put on your site.

Really? What are my interests?

A pointed reference towards unequal gender pay, for one.

I am actually doing in depth research in to this area right now. Get back to me in May and I'd be glad to share the outcome with you.

Well, let me know what you find when you research how people justify killing human beings for the sole purpose of low self-esteem and self-worth, committing the one act that any civilized nation would agree cannot exist on the planet in order for it to continue.

People who don't live near me die every day for terrible reasons. Don't think for a minute that doesn't strike me.

Hardly strikes anyone in the same way. Hard to identify with people who you never knew who live thousands of miles away in a land you've never been to for beliefs you've never really grasped because they're different than western thinking.

I feel bad that people die all over the world, but I still can't say it affects me terribly, because they're totally unrelated to my world.

I wasn't out to convince anyone. I was just getting some thoughts out.

Yeah, I do that too. Been doing that for a very long time. I even do it longer after people stopped reading.

If you put it online, it's there for people to "react" to, respond to, and criticize. Most people just agree with it, praise it, whatever, though.

And, being as patriotic as you say you are, you should recognize that the First Amendment is important, and I was just using my right to free speech. If it offended you, too bad.

I didn't contact diaryland and tell them to shut down your site. I sent you an e-mail disagreeing strongly with what you wrote. Hardly justifies invoking the First Amendment.

Back when I first started my site I had to figure out my reason for putting crap up on the web. For a while it was about getting attention. And then I realized that that meant people were able to respond if they wanted to. Then I realized that I liked that.

In closing, I just need to say that you have based your opinion on a lot of false assumptions about me/my feelings/my education. You know, it's a lot easier to attack when you don't know the full story.

That's what everyone says. Everyone likes to feel they are special and different and important, and there probably is some truth in that, but it usually isn't in their opinions, which can often be hollow, but rather, in their character.

I've been disgusted too - mostly by the blind patriotism that's going on. There's a difference between solidarity and being sheep. People are sheep.

Ah the clarion call of 20th century psychobabble. "People are sheep." Independent thinkers need no like minds or faith or religion or legislation or social conventions or tradition. The world should be independent minds who only show "solidarity" to one another when they need it. Oh wait, that definition won't work...

She never responds to this e-mail.

On 9/26, I pass around a URL from a British paper, the Sunday Times, and I include her on the list. I thought it was a good read, even if you might think it's heavily biased.

No response. This is important to note.

On 10/5 I send her an article from the NY Times.

On 10/6, she responds:

You know, you're not going to change my mind or make me look at anything differently by sending me something from some major newspaper. (Or a Murdoch owned international paper for that matter.)

And I could send you article after article from the progressive left by world renowned thinkers, but I'm not going to.

Why? Because it's obnoxious.

Consider yourself killfiled.

She has indicated she wants no part in the intellectual challenge. So I send her a response and say I won't bother her again.

Someone comes to you with a strong point of view that challenges your own. You write it off as "hate mail", a neat little package that makes a pleasant little story for your anemic web site but kind of misses the point.

Then you categorically refuse to read an article by a "Murdoch owned" newspaper that apparently isn't "progressively left". Uh, what the FUCK? I sent you two links, one from a BRITISH newspaper not owned by News Corp., and then a link to the New York Times, which most certainly ISN'T Murdoch-owned and most certainly IS known as being notoriously progressively left!! What ARE you smoking, my dear gal?

And besides, have you been indoctrinated into the cult of extremist thinkers who only look at one side of the issue? Who look at each article not for its content, but for who it's written by, suspicious of propaganda at every level of society except your own? A lot of my views are shared by the "progressive left", whatever the fuck that is. (oh wait, you mean the people who want reparations for slavery, and a disintegration of intelligence agencies...right?) But at this point you don't consider any of my views valid just because you don't like me.

As soon as you detect the slightest hint of someone who doesn't fully agree with you, you run away out of harm's way, and stick your head in the sand until you feel safe again. I challenge you to read articles and materials that specifically criticize the very views you hold so sacred.

Get a fucking SPINE, [omit], you make the rest of us personal site owners look bad.

That said, I respect your wishes to be left alone, and won't bother you again. But you might as well drop out of college now, because it's clear you've already learned all you're willing to know about the world.

PS: Killfiling is a term used for Usenet, not e-mail. Cute and terse exit, but inaccurate.

She posts this to her livejournal:

the asshole emailed me again. how many times do i have to tell this guy to stop emailing me before he listens? this is becoming harassment. and the sad thing is that he's really lame and has nothing better to do than email me. i really hope that something in his life happens to distract him. i mean, if he had his own life he could leave mine alone.

Uh, okay, I'll give it a shot. How many times? How about ONE? Stop making it sound like you asked me 2,000 times to stop. Stop acting like you can post whatever you want ONLINE and not take the responsibility that comes along with it. Of course, if I sent her GUSHING e-mails of appreciation and praise, I would've been her new best friend. But since she disagrees, I have nothing better to do than e-mail her. Funny how it works. I didn't criticize her daily routines or how she lives her life. I argued against her PUBLISHED opinions.

You know what pisses me off over all other things in this whole thing? This is an example of my contemporaries!

They all post the most inane chatter online and create whole incestuous circles which consist of them praising and linking to each other. Meanwhile, nothing brilliant is created and criticism is to be laughed off and ignored. Until, of course, these sites die from their own narcissism and gluttony. And then they do the post-mortem, like they fucking knew better the whole time. Just watch.

I leave you with a quote: "Reliance on intelligence alone results in rebelliousness. Exercise of humaneness alone results in weakness. Fixation on trust results in folly. Dependence on the strength of courage results in violence. Excessive sternness of command results in cruelty. When one has all five virtues together, each appropriate to its function, then one can be a military leader." -Jia Lin

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