If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Monday, 7 March 2011

Rude? Me?

I posted on Saturday about a spam email I received asking me to sign a petition to 'Save The NHS'. I wrote to the sender as follows:
Dear John

This is unwelcome spam. Where did you obtain my email address? And your apologies are not accepted; they are mere window-dressing for bad manners.

As for your online petition – well, I think you’ve blown it.
I followed it up with a couple of reminders over the course of the day. This morning I received this:
Dear John (huh?),

Sorry that you had to be so rude in your reply. I got your address from Anna. We met at OU Summer School in Xxxx in and correspnded for a while. Did Anna finish her studies and graduate? Tell her I went on to do a degree in Fine Art - she can see my work at www.blackvanilla.org.uk

Best wishes to you both


Was I rude? Or just blunt? This was my reply:
Hi John

Thank you for clearing that up. (Personal stuff about Anna redacted.) I have pointed her in the direction of your website.

I really don’t consider my reply to you was rude, however. I find unwanted emails very intrusive, especially when they arrive in my private email that only a few people know, and personally I would never consider emailing on a controversial political topic to someone I had never met. Including a pre-packaged apology when you have already intruded on someone is somewhat insulting. It’s a common trick among commercial spammers, but that doesn’t make it right. I’d be interested to know what part of my reply you found ‘rude’, as I was very careful not to be offensive but merely factual.

Anyway, water under the bridge and all that. I wish you success with your Fine Art, although I won’t be signing the petition.

Best wishes (sincerely)

If he thinks that my reply was rude, he needs to get out more, I think. He should have seen the first draft.


  1. IF he had made the first contact somewhat more personal by saying how he got your address he might be justified in thinking your response was a bit rude. But he shot himself in the foot by not doing so.

    He's probably getting edgy now that you've put his details on the net for all the spam bots to pick up!

    And I still maintain that the petition organisers should abide by the rules, which they clearly aren't doing. I have wanted to sign a number of online petitions in the past, but if I'm not happy with the privacy policy (or one doesn't exist) they don't get my details...

  2. His first email began "Hi", with no name, so he was obviously doing a 'sent to all' message from his address book. I don't regret posting the correspondence here. After all, he initiated the exchange by spamming me out of the blue. He sounds like a nice guy, and I don't wish him any harm, but I hope he reflects that not everyone wants to hear his views on the NHS. I suspect he's one of those who thinks that no-one could possibly disagree with him - after all, "NHS = good" and "Tories = evil" are givens, aren't they?

  3. Had a look at the site, his work is a joke and I have seen better on Take Hart and Blue Peter when I was a youngster. If that's the result of a fine arts degree then I am a Dutch Master. I am now off to cut up some wood and make a garden snake which will be on Ebay tonight, it would have been in a couple of hours but better let the paint dry first..

  4. I would have a word with Anna about not giving out your personal details aswell.

  5. She met him about 15 years ago, on an OU Summer School, and they swapped email addresses and kept in touch for a while. Back then, we weren't half as paranoid about personal information. Not sure why she gave him mine as well, though ...

  6. Just set-up a new email account, I have several due to such issues and by the way you were not rude.

  7. It is worrying that a 'nice person' feels justified in doing something that most people (on a good day including him, I suspect) would class as presumptuous to the point of rudeness. His ends justify his means.

  8. No need for that, Christopher! It's my first ever email account and it has my actual name in it, and so I regard it as my 'permanent' account, which is why I was so brassed of that this guy was spamming it. It's the one my family use, and also my bank and insurer, that kind of thing. But it does get a certain amount of commercial spam (who doesn't?) and there is no need to change addresses, with all the hassle that entails, just for one misguided fan of the NHS. I have several Gmail accounts for various purposes, and I can create or kill them at will, no worries.

  9. @Christopher - and thanks for saying I wasn't rude.

    @Derf - very true. If you're on the side of the angels, anything is permissible, because it is in a good cause. The problem is, that's the justification Hitler used as well. Once you start saying that the ends justify the means, you're on a slippery slope.

  10. If he thought your response rude, it's a bloody good job he didn't spam G.O.T. / OldRightie's Stand-in.

  11. As I said above, he should have seen the first draft. It might have driven him over the edge.

  12. If that was rude then I am one rude person. Directness is considered rude when the person realizes they were "in the wrong." There are too many people that "can't handle the truth!" :) Nothing wrong with being direct and too the point.

  13. Joe says he's lucky he didn't spam Gotty, OldRightie's stand in. He's also lucky he didn't send anything to me although personally I think Anna is perhaps more at fault here.

    What's she playing at giving out a personal email to someone you haven't met for xxx years? Have a word with her.

  14. As far as I know, she swapped email addresses with him about 15 years ago. They corresponded for a while and then it petered out. She didn't even remember his name whan I read it out. When and why she gave him mine is a mystery, but it must have been a long time ago, unless there are things that I am unaware of :) Perhaps she just told him my name in conversation - it's not hard to work out my address from hers, if you see what I mean. Further questions need to be asked - or maybe not.

  15. I thought you were rather generous, all in all. Wishing success in the Fine Art department - given the evidence on display - was an extremely charitable act.

  16. I was guessing he didn't do irony.

  17. So. THAT is "rude" is it?

    A PERFECT example of what I mean by "the wet nellying of Western Europe". If you do not actualy bow scrape and grovel till the knees are rubbed raw, you are being "Aggresive", "rude", "arrogant", "violent", etc, etc.

    Well FUCK them. This prat really does NOT want to get MY response to spammers. He would probably have a heart attack and expect the bloody Royal Marines to turn out to protect him.

  18. I'm just amazed that you've had the same email address for 15 years!

  19. I don't care if someone thinks I'm 'rude' - especially as they will certainly have been the cause of it in the first place!

  20. Microdave - it's because I am deeply conservative and an old traditonalist :) I actually only check it every few days, but I wouldn't be without it. Webmail still feels to me to be slightly impermanent.


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