Monday, 18 August 2008

Dialogue on drugs.

Kathleen left an interesting comment on my blog,"Clean up or clear out", which I shall reproduce here...

I have, for the most part, enjoyed reading your blog since we first met at Mario’s last winter. I understand that life on the Rio since the recent murder of Dan Dryden is filled with uncertainty, anxiety and fear but with this post I think you’ve gone too far.

The term “jumping to conclusions” comes strongly to mind because you have certainly done that with your accusation, stated as a fact, that Dan was a confirmed “drug abuser”. I am stunned by your ability to write such a statement without any actual facts. Dan is barely in his grave and you have already decided that he was probably killed because he was a “drug abuser” and that their choice of anchorage that night was suspicious. Your statements are hurtful, inconsiderate and slanderous.

Your need to pass judgment from your insular cyber soapbox scares me and to suggest that Dan and Nancy were in some way responsible for their misfortune is stunning.
If you were truly the investigative journalist you’ve said you are, you would get your facts straight before publishing such malicious words. Have you ever actually spoken with any of the victims of your vituperousness? In cyberspace you don’t have to confront them personally and find out what is really true and what is not. There is only one side of the story ~ your side. There are many tabloids that would love to have you as a reporter. In my opinion you’ve certainly overstepped the boundaries of ethical journalism with this latest bit of nastiness.

I understand that by sending you this comment I open myself to your scorn and sharp tongued retort but I am willing to endure that in order to speak my mind. My deepest condolences go to Nancy and her children. She and Dan were lovely people and I feel fortunate to have met them.

Here is my response:

Dear Kathleen

Thank you for your comments on my blog. I understand your emotional response to the issue. However you seem to have missed the point. Smoking a joint is ILLEGAL. However you want to interpret my words, there is a clear statement on Dan's Memorial Blog that he smoked joints. That is an act that is as illegal in New York as it is in Guatemala. The fact that in the eyes of many American cruisers this is not a criminal act is irrelevant. It is against the law of this country, and yours.

You accuse me of telling only one side of the story, but actually I’m the only person suggesting that there may be more than one side to the story.

Yes, there is a chance that this may be the first murder of a gringo on the Rio that is unrelated to drug use. My belief is that there is sufficient doubt causes me to ask questions. Uncomfortable, yes. Emotionally challenging, yes. But, in my opinion, necessary.

In response to your questions:
1. Yes, I met the Dryden's.
2. There is evidence that Dan used drugs, read the link.

My remarks have nothing to do with being "nasty" to Dan and Nancy. It's the opposite. It's because we don't want more Dans and Nancys that we have to address this wretched subject.

You don’t like what I have said. I can understand that. Maybe you smoke the occasional joint or have other friends that do. Maybe you or they have been reassured by kindly local drug pushers that they get their supplies from the police, so it's OK - the authorities not only turn a blind eye they profit from it. It's the myth put about by drug peddlers all over the world; subtext: "don't even think about turning me in". Maybe the drug traffic has corrupted the judicial system, maybe not. See how insidiously the very act of patronising these crooks undermines the forces of law and order.

Sorry Kathleen, such actions are indefensible. It's for Dan's sake that this has to be said. As guests in Guatemala we have a responsibility to ensure that our actions do not compound this country’s already significant problems.

It is not easy for anyone to raise questions that challenge the predominant viewpoint.

Please do not see this reply as scornful. I just don’t agree with you and I am as entitled to my views as you are to yours. The fact that I don’t agree doesn’t mean that I don’t respect your right to your own opinion. What’s important is that we continue to talk about this so that we can better understand each other’s perspective.

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