Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Taboo subjects...

...I make a conscious effort to avoid them.  Particularly politics.  Mostly because I'm not an authority on the subject, and  this country's politics aren't always easy to understand (by me anyway).   I'm also unclear about where the line is that I should not step over, as far as it affects my blog.  Those of you living in Turkey are well aware of the various websites that have been banned because someone in Ankara decided that someone had spoken out of turn, and that although we supposedly have a democracy here, we don't actually really have freedom of speech.

So, that's as far as I will go on this particular taboo subject, except that I've recently subscribed to Slate magazine through Facebook, which has some brilliant articles at times, and this morning came across  this one which you may find interesting:

 ....................just one more reason why the sooner Erdoğan and his party are out of power...the better.


  1. Your 'this one' link doesn't seem to be working.

  2. You are sooo funny. All that care in not being too political and then you drop the "stinkeroo" at that last line!
    I understand your hesitation though. I read somewhere (I don't know how true it is) but a blogger was complaining about the Istanbul foreigners' office. What she could have complained about I have no idea. (Snark, snark) and a few days later, she got an email IN ENGLISH from them, in answer to her post, explaining the problem. That scared me.

    I can say all sort of things about US politics because it is something I think I understand better. Ever so often, I see something here in Turkey, that makes my eyes water or roll up in my head and I post them without much comment. I figure the people in power are big boys and they shouldn't mind a bit of criticism as long as it isn't too personal or radical or violent. After all, no political system is perfect. At least until the machines take over. :)

  3. Heiko: Thanks...sorry about that...I've repaired it and it's working ok now.

    Nomad: Well the big boys shouldn't mind a little criticism but they do don't they? Or put it another way...they usually get some of the "smaller boys" to respond to criticism for them.

    I do wonder just how much foreigners/ex-pats are being watched here. I do have friends in Cappadocia for example who have most definitely had their phones tapped.

  4. They are wasting their time with me!
    I am rather surprised they can find anybody with a necessary level of English (or general insanity) to understand anything I might say.

    But how is this for dumb. A person from my bank (they said) called and asked me to confirm by private information over the phone. I was, like, who ARE you? If it isn't somebody trying to break into my account, then the people at the bank are dumber than I thought.

    Have you had problems with recorded calls? Your land line rings, you rush to answer it and then it is a recorded advert? Most annoying and really there isn't much you can do about it.

  5. I just read the Slate article.
    Well, it isn't the first time Erdogan has said something provocative and probably not the last. I think he likes the attention whether it serves the nation's interests or improves the image of Turkey or not.

    My opinion about this subject is fairly pragmatic. I cannot say what happened during that time (I was only an infant, for pete's sake.)It was a time of war and also a time when the Ottoman empire was under threat by external and internal forces. Anything horrific could have happened. That's the nature of war. No excuse, of course.
    Still, not every nation is prepared to admit its historical "crimes." Italy, for example, used poison gas in the 1930s against Ethiopians but I haven't heard of calls for a formal apology. Governments are not passing resolutions about that matter.
    I am sure there are numerous other examples that can be cited.

    But I do think it is a far better idea for historians to deal with history than politicians. I was rather aghast when France made it illegal to say that there was no such thing as an Armenian genocide. How is this a helpful approach, making ideas- even possibly wrong ones-illegal? Some people want to believe in evolution and some people want to believe in "creationism." Personally I think creationism is silly but I would never sanction making believing it a crime.
    I'm not sure but I believed Turkey has welcomed an independent review by impartial historians of the documents but how one would determine impartiality at this stage is a good question.

  6. Oh I have seen an enormous improvement in bank security since I first came here...a long way still to go though. I remember in the early days when a friend of mine (English) had a Turkish boyfriend who "knew" someone who worked in the bank where my friend had deposited her money. The Turkish boyfriend was not only able to access her account to check the balance, he actually managed to withdraw money!!

    Yes I've had those recorded phone ads too...very annoying!

  7. Yes surprises at Erdoğan putting his foot in his mouth again.

    Actually I tend to agree with you when you say "far better idea for historians to deal with history than politicians".

    And that's it really. Awful things happened (and still happen) when there are wars. But you cannot re-write matter how much some people try.

  8. Knowing me and my ability to put my big size threes into things - I'm going to stay very quiet here. However (I can hear you sigh already), I do think it is wrong when the state censors things and decides what can be viewed by its population.

    I used to read Private Eye and that opened my eyes to lots of things about the British establishment and how it is run. I had to stop my subscription so that my anger levels could drop.

  9. FF: No I'm not sighing..honestly ;-) I agree about censorship. I'm extremely irritated that Youtube is still banned. I still think it's wrong that the state should decide what we should/shouldn't read or what we can/can't say.

    The Turks are quite apathetic about such doesn't seem to bother them. Maybe that's why they are generally happy and don't get stressed as much as we do?

  10. Different cultures, different ways Ayak, I live in Ireland, did I ever mention that to you, and sometimes the difference are amazing, for instance they don't seem to fight for their rights, the price of things atrocious, when I ask people, what do you think of stuff being more than twice the price in Northern Ireland, they just shrug, and say," what can we do ", fight for your rights say I, wasting my time of course.

    Though it is much better than it used to be, came into the 21st Century kicking and screaming, though I do miss the quaintness that used to be.

    Love the pictures of Billy eating his first Easter egg. You will be seeing him soon x

  11. Things seem to have become a bit more repressive than they were back when I lived in Turkey. (I got there at the tail end of Tancu Cillar) I remember quite lively discussions between foreigners and Turks alike on the politics of Turkey.

    The tricky bit of course is that bizarre slander law meaning "insulting a Turk" - very subjective. While I was there I remember a newspaper article saying an older Turkish woman was sent to jail for "insulting a Turk." She called him names when he wouldn't give her his seat on the bus!!

    Still, things were pretty open but then the conservatives were waiting in the wings (and riling things up on occasion).

    I too LOVE the pictures of Billy and the Egg!!

    Congrats on quitting smoking. I know (from personal experience!!) it's not easy, at all. But I quit finally 4 years ago and I don't regret it. (my 'other half' finally decided to quit just this past January!! Never nagged or made a big deal about him smoking, just remarked on how much better I felt and how much healthier I was since I quit.)

  12. If insulting a Turk is a crime then it's a good job that Ziya's wife lives in France!
    More serioursly, I think the current government is a front for not radical, but more influential Islam....just what Ataturk abolished in the name of progress.

  13. Ann: Yes cultural differences for sure, but apathy plays a big part. Yes not long before I see Billy!

    Jes: Yes the slander law...hmm it depends on how it's interpreted and who happens to be doing the intepreting at the time. Like most laws...the goalposts continue to be moved.

    Fly: Hi...are you back home? Nice to see you!
    You are absolutely spot on about the current government in my opinion!

  14. Anyone who thinks we still have free speach in the USA is a bigger nut job than I am... go ahead and speak out... see what happens...

  15. @eloh...well I've dipped my toe in the I may well take a few more risks


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