Thursday, June 3, 2010

The right to forward electronic mail.

I am curious about something. Should a person have the right to forward? Can forwarding be used as a form of hate? Let me back up for a moment and explain.

It is a beautiful morning in Kentucky. The birds have become fascinated with my window and literally woke me up this morning. I don't know what they were talking about but it was loud and melodious!

About this time I am in the midst of the morning routine and I open my e.mail to find five of them. I don't get many and not this early. It takes a bit for the retailers to get to reminding me they love me and "please buy this stuff we have ready to ship!"

Today the five were from my sister. She lives in Arizona and is about as opposite to me in her beliefs as a person can be. Usually her communications are directed at how I must change my evil ways and become her. This is done with forwards from every possible antithetical hate site she can find. We're on Facebook too so her joined groups read like the total definition of "what's wrong with America as it exists now." These sites describe an America back about the time we were born as perfect!

I put this compulsion she has down to her having inherited the "evangelism" gene in the family. My mother was a believer in our duty as Baptists to convert every other person that existed because they were WRONG! I was changed at an early age. This happened about the time I learned to read and discovered the local library.

This thing from my sister was 631 words; one full page of type single spaced. Two days before I had gotten three e.mails of forwarded stuff and I sent her this image:

Her e.mails this morning were in response to that. It involved a statement that her husband was part American Indian and therefore her children and grandchildren were allowed to remain in the country. Then she told me where our family came from and therefore were immigrants and was I ready to move back to Ireland or England, etc. But "we" were not illegal people. We were legal immigrants. Any anyway they wouldn't take me back!

What a lovely thing.

This was composed by her and sent at about midnight her time. So, the last thing she was thinking about before bed was how to debate me on the issue of illegal entry into America.

Don't get me wrong here. I receive e.mails from friends, acquaintances, clients, people who happened to trip across me in some other comment forum, which are just like this. They are seldom personal after the first contact. I have to give her that. She did take the time to write me a personal 621 words. My universal response to those others who do that is to send them a very polite note: "Please do not forward or send me any more of this kind of thing. Feel free to remove me from your distribution list. Thank you."

I could respond to my sister the same way though to be real I don't get inflamatory e.mail of the liberal kind.  So far I have chose not to as we were totally out of contact for over twelve years and only recently did I tippy toe into reestablishing a connection with her. She is my only relative.

Reggie gets this kind of stuff all the time from old school chums he was never friends with.  He will compose a reasonable succinct response. You probably get similar stuff.

If you received a real paper hand written letter that said what these messages do, what would you think?

That brings me back to my first line. Do we have the right to forward mail that the recipient sees as hate mail just because we have some real or tenuous connection to a person?

Perhaps a slim volume of etiquette on online or techno communication is in order.


  1. I'm sending you an email that I send to anyone that keeps forwarding emails to me. I sent one to my sister and she got a little pissed off but she definitely understood the message. I'm sure that your sister would understand as well. Enjoy the Anti-Email Man on his soapbox.

  2. Keith: That's a good one.

    Problem with my sister is she doesn't send chain letters and such. She sends political and racial stuff.

  3. I don't really like forwarded email stuff... political rants... religious rants... shiznit like that...

    I'm not ultra-conservative... I'm not ultra-liberal.... as someone pointed out to me a while back, I could be Libertarian, but I have to admit that I have not taken the time to see what all that really means... I make express a political view from time to time... but I don't try to change someone's mind...


  4. i dont want my religious right wing relatives sending me shit and they feel the same way. so we just dont do those kind of forwards. but they still send me jesus loves me type emails..and i email back and the goddess loves you too.

  5. Excellent solution Yellowdog Granny!

  6. I think people have the "right" to forward crap to you and you have the "right" to delete it. It's not really about rights. It's about how you want to respond to things that are in opposition to your own beliefs. If it were just an acquaintance, I'd ask them not to send that sort of thing. If it were a sister I already had a tenuous sort of relationship with, I'd either ignore it and just write back about what I'd been up to lately, or I'd say gently that we are just going to have to agree to disagree.

  7. Secret: Perhaps. It has to do with an individual's belief in politness or not. It isn't polite to stand in front of a person and speak the words that are in the ten page e.mail, so I believe it isn't polite to do it via e.mail.

    But I did treat all these e.mails from my sister like taht. I ignored them. I've said the agree to disagree thing. Currently there's a quietness, so I'm hopeful that will continue.

  8. once it's in my mailbox, it's mine!

    although i think of myself as a lefty politically i find that my liberal friends can be a bigger pain in the arse than my conservative friends.

  9. Billy, I agree.

    What I really don't get is people who can write ten pages of single spaced type on some minor point in the political disussion. Such passion and committment to the "right" thing that they believe.

    I guess I'm just lazy?

  10. Even if we disagree with other people's opinions, it is great that we live in a place where we can voice our opinions, through emails or otherwise. I am personally not offended by much and only things that are blatantly racists or hateful would make me cringe.

  11. Karen: I agaree; we have the ability to think and believe as we choose!

  12. Ooh, difficult one. Some siblings remain close, others part company as soon as possible. Was one child favored over the other, one was thought special? That's usually the cause of later alienation - why can't you be just like your sister?

    As for forwarded e-mails, don't mind them if they're really interesting. In your case, they're not. More like some asinine propaganda.

  13. hmmm to be honest i get only a few mails from a few people around . that is the best .
    my sister would never think writing a mail .haha
    i get only forward stuff from someone in n.j.
    but only funny or interesting stuff .
    i have no place or time for hateful things .
    i want to have a smiles when i´m on !!

  14. I rarely fwd anything, but if I do, it is to someone I know well and know they will enjoy it. Cheers Charlene!!

  15. I e.mail friends things I KNOW they will like. I don't send provocative stuff or things I know will make them mad. When I send, I recopy it and take out all the forward info.

  16. I finally got my co-worker to stop sending me his Right wing crap..The last time he asked me if I'd received his email,I told him 'I just delete that crap'..
    End of forwards.

  17. Hello Charlene: may I come in? And if there's a cup of tea on the go, may I have milk and one sugar, please? Thank you.

    I'm sorry about your problem. I wonder if your sister is older or younger? Each has to do something to compensate for what they perceive as the deprivations of being the one or the other. Twins rarely do, of course.

    This is my Thought for the Day. Delicious tea, thank you. Good to see you and...actually you never did introduce your cat, did you?

  18. I was loking through an old forward my exwife sent me when we were still together (it was funny, I liked it so I kept it) when I noticed that her current "fella" was the one who had sent it to her.
    I thought WTF???
    She claims he was just a friend at the time, but I wonder...

    Moral of the story? Remove the addresses in your frowarding info.

  19. Sling: I like that solution!

    Christopher: I have some tea. I usually drink in the late afternoon in winter. It being 90 degrees most days in Louisville now, I'm drinking ice water in the afternoons.

    My sister is 2 years older.

    Mac: I NEVER forward mail with the e.mail addresses attached and those that do are impolite at the very least.

    Nothing is more disgusting than an X lying to you, unless it is that they are so careless that they leave their tracks.


Comments are encouraged.