Saturday, September 06, 2008


I woke up to one virulent nastygram this morning! That happens on occasion here, especially when I state opinions about US politics. The "love it or leave it" folks come out of the woodwork.

The writer implied (again - it's getting dull) that as a cultural dissident in this country, I have no right to complain about politics. I've made it clear in the writer's mind that I "hate" this country and everything it stands for. There was all kinds of talk about loyalty, duty, patriotism and the fact that I have forfeited my right to say a word! He ended with "try doing and saying the things you do and say in your beloved Thailand. See where it will get you."

It was a long nastygram. Several hundred words. I'll give the writer this much: he was articulate. He didn't use a bunch of filthy language. Most of the nastygrams I get are written in all caps with really stupid grammatical errors. They're full of vulgarity. Usually they are unsigned. This guy signed his name and gave me his email address. For that reason alone, I will probably reply to him.

I try to appreciate the nastygrams as much as the praise. After all, it is someone taking the time to share an opinion with me and that in itself has value.

But let me address this "I have no right..." issue. I do have a right. For several reasons.

I live on this planet. At least for now. I may be getting old but haven't gone to the Other Side yet. What the US does affects the rest of the world. Look at any country in the world and tell me it's not impacted by activities, political and geopolitical, of the US. I will never fall back on the "I was born here" argument because I think it's cheesy and has no substance. The fact is that we are all stuck on this planet together, for better and for worse.
Secondly - and perhaps most importantly - my history has included all sorts of activities which I believe will make the US a better place for everyone - in the US and without. If I didn't care about American people, there are plenty of other things I could have done with my time. I could have gone shopping more, partied more and feathered my own nest for the past 30+ years. I could have used that energy to my benefit only. That would have been praised quite highly in this culture. After all, I would have been (as my macroeconomics instructor in college said) "looking out for my own self-interest and maximizing my own potential".


I've seen a lot of changes in the landscape over the past thirty years. From peaceful protests in the early 70s to protests now that are met with excessive police presence, arrests and violence. Watching the alternative press cover the protests in St Paul is very frightening. (I might add that there's been very little coverage in the mainstream press - including MS-NBC, CNN and, of course, Fox.) I've seen people bullied into sitting it out because they're afraid for their jobs, their families and their physical well-being. People are afraid of speaking their minds on email, on blogs, on talk radio shows and in the press. All of this in the name of "The Patriot Act" which, if you choose to take the time to read it, I guarantee it will scare the hell out of you.

I am not afraid to speak my mind. Maybe I just have nothing to lose and perhaps the fire in my belly is just too strong. These things matter to me. People matter to me. The idea of any nation putting dangerous policies into place and exporting them all over the world scares the hell out of me and I'm going to speak up about it. I've spoken up about Sarah Palin because I believe she would be a disaster for this country. In a higher position, she'd be a disaster for the world. Anyone who would say the war in Iraq is "God's will" and pressure a librarian in Wasalla to ban certain books, firing her when she wouldn't comply, is someone to fear. Look at the fact that she may have used her position to get her sister's ex-husband fired from his job as a state trooper. She whined during her RNC speech about having to give POWs any rights. Is that someone who deserves power? I don't think so! She's a scary lady, one who makes John McCain look like a pussycat in comparison. I will continue to speak out about her.

So if anyone wants to disagree with me, please feel free. If anyone wants to challenge my ideas, please do. If anyone has an opinion or belief system that is different than mine, I want to hear about it. But don't ever tell me I "have no right" to speak up about US politics.

You're dead wrong!



FranIAm said...


More rounds of applause from me to you, a brave and bright and articulate and concerned citizen of the world.

painted maypole said...

of course you have rights. your nasty gram writer seems not to have read the declaration of independence - you know, one of the founding documents for this country he professes to love so.

one of the good things about America is that we DO have the right to speak out. And, as I think you would agree, as world citizens we have the DUTY to speak out. if we only had the right to speak if we AGREED with the status quo? that would be no right at all

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

People like nastygram have a completely juvenile view of the political process.

I appreciate your speaking out.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

As I understand it, this country was founded on rights. People came here from other places because they didn't have the ones that mattered to them, freedom of religion and freedom of speech being preeminent.

One of the things that makes America great, in my view, is the fact that we are all allowed to voice our opinions without repercussions from the Federal government as long as we do so peacefully.

If Sarah Palin were to become President, that would change drastically. A person who so abuses her power in the many ways now coming into the greater public awareness, outside Alaska, would think nothing of crushing those who disagreed with her views on anything, and for that reason alone we must ensure that she doesn't come any closer to the White House than she already has.

Kathryn Knoll said...

See, that's the thing about people who think there is only one correct view: their view. They think the rest of us can't have an opinion if it differs from theirs. What has happened to this country? We used to be the United States and people use to be free to express their ideas. There used to be certain freedoms we all had a right to. Now, unfortunately, if you are not Right, you are wrong and don't have a right to express that! I admire your courage, Dear One!

Catherine said...

Well - first and foremost - you're a citizen of this country (to my knowledge). That means that whatever you might think, do, believe, wear, sing, paint, write, or hum, - you get a voice, and a vote.

That's why this country was started in the first place - so that people considered dissonants could speak up in safety and still keep their voice and vote.

So...there it is.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

I've never understood the "love it or leave it" attitude in a country whose key philosophy is retained in the First Amendment nor in a country that was founded by revolutionaries.

It just makes no sense to me. Dissent is an inalienable right and something that helps us to become strong as a nation.

Anonymous said...

According to the US Declaration of Independence, our rights were endowed to us by our Creator. If you need a more down-to-earth source, the right to freedom of expression is guaranteed by Article 19 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which both Thailand and the United States are signatories.

I don't think your email buddy has the power to override either of those authorities.

SUEB0B said...

Even if you were Thai-born and a Thailand resident, since when did the US become so weak and fragile that we can't tolerate criticism? A healthy culture, a mature culture, is open to questioning and correction. It is only totalitarianism that cannot tolerate dissent.

Christine said...

come out from under my rock....

you have every right to say what you say no matter what.


i come here and read (though my commenting is sparse to non-existent lately)and i love to hear your opinions and insights.

keep on talking--i'm listening!!!!

Mrs. Chili said...


This was beautifully articulated. What the trolls who send nastygrams about dissent don't seem to realize (or care to remember) is that this nation was built on a FOUNDATION of dissent. Dissent IS patriotic. The Founders intended for citizens to be attentive and diligent and to SPEAK UP. HELLO? First Amendment, anyone?

There's nothing that says that one has to be born in a certain place before they can comment on how that place is run. As a fellow citizen of the world, I fully support your freedom to speak up.



Mariposa said...

Well said!

Anything affects anyone at some rate and we all have our we convey them and we take others is another thing. I believe no one has the right to tell anyone he/she has no right to say his opinion on anything...or what's in the first place that person is doing?

Maithri said...

Preach my sista!

Keep talking, Keep flyin the flag of justice, peace and equality.

You are a gift to the world.

Peace and love, M

Amy Y said...

You absolutely have a right to speak out about politics in this country. Even after you move to Thailand, you will have a right ~ as does anyone in the world. Like it or not, the USA is a huge influence in the world and our decisions affect other countries. Until that stops happening, I feel our actions are fair game for everyone. Especially our citizens that were born here!!
But I'm glad he was at least articulate :)

slouching mom said...

of course you have a right. ridiculous that someone would think otherwise.

and that someone would waste his or her time putting together a missive to that effect.

MsLittlePea said...

My fist to you Chani. I agree. People like that always want to have a "I love America more than you, you hate America," contest. This is usually because the argument has no substance. Most people are getting sick of patriotism bullies. America was founded by dissidents and the most patriotic thing one can do is speak out. When a train is falling off the track, no one just sits and watches silently. I've been reading here for a long time and I've never read anything that would lead me to believe you hate this country. That argument is really ridiculous.....

But like you said, at least he wasn't vulgar. But the belief that you've somehow forfeited your right to speak out because you love Thailand, come one. Get real.

Chanda (aka Bea) said...

To speak out against our government when we feel they have lost sight of its purpose is about as American as it can get. Speaking out, heck, acting out against an oppresive rule is what CREATED this country. I think Mr. Nastygram should go back and read some history.

jen said...

sounds like a typical elitist tactic. if you disagree, you have no voice. you should just go away.

and that's crap. freedom of speech AND choice are one of the things we've fought long and hard for.

Carla said...

That takes a lot of I'm not quite sure what to say you have no right. But the fact of the matter is that you do. Keep on talking. If he doesn't like what he's hearing, he can move on.

Border Explorer said...

As you note, it's a tribute to you that you affected someone to that extent, i.e. taking the time to write a long, carefully crafted nastygram. This action shows that you do make a difference, enough of a difference to bother someone who disagrees with you.

They happen to be wrong when they say you have no right to speak up. Way wrong.

womaninawindow said...

thoughtful, well rounded, fierce, you.

Anonymous said...

You're a 100% right about this. We are a global community and thus everyone has a right to weigh in on everything I think. You were spot on as they say, and Nobody has right in a supposedly free country to claim that someone doesn't have a right to speak their mind. Cudos to you!

hele said...

Everyone has the right to say what they need to say. It is saying things in your head but not having the will or courage to say them where people can communicate with your thoughts that lead to all kinds of problems.

Because it is often the things we don't say that carry the most weight.

So keep on speaking because your truth inspires us all to speak ours*

Anonymous said...

Of course you do. Any person leving in this world has the "right" to have an opinion on the poltics and policies of any country. We're all in this together.

Olivia said...

It's too bad people have to resort to being nasty make a point. But you said it very well, Chani. I still don't understand why anyone who doesn't agree with you, or doesn't like you or what you write just doesn't go and read other blogs! It really makes no sense to me, at all.

I disagreed with many of the things you and others wrote about Sarah Palin, but I enjoyed very much finding out how you think and hearing other opinions. It is always, always good to hear different sides of an issue or an opinion---how can it ever hurt?

I always appreciate your speaking out, and when I disagree with you I value your opinion. To do anything less is to be disrespectful, IMHO.

I agree with hele, who wrote, "So keep on speaking because your truth inspires us all to speak ours"




Angela said...

Bravo! Yaaahhh, Chani!