Criticism not allowed

11 January 2005

First of all I convey my very best wishes to friends and 'foes' alike for a happy, prosperous and healthy 2005! I mentioned last month that I received a letter from a law firm that accused me of defamation of their client. Not only defamation, but also of threats, intimidation and blackmail. It is only logical that I informed several of my friends about this letter and here is one reply that came back to me: 'Seems as if you have run into trouble with your 'directness'. What shall I say? I know you and I know that it is your way of trying to improve the leather industry.' I don't think I am in trouble because I have defamed nobody, nor has there ever been any intention to defame anybody. Whoever thinks he or she was defamed is misinterpreting Limeblast. The accusation of threats and blackmail is so ridiculous I won't even consider these worthy of comment. I am pleased, however, that my unnamed friend who states to know me, understands so well that I am trying to improve the leather industry, not defame others or try to make personal gain. I can only wish that others have the same insight into my intentions. The same unnamed friend told me last June not to give up! The lawyers made several quotations of phrases that their client did not like in a couple of Limeblasts, and one was '….extremely few doors have been opened spontaneously, some just enough to put my foot in before it could be closed but, in the great majority of cases, people made sure they were not at home. No names this time, because those in question who read this know themselves who I am talking about….' The fact of the matter is that I am in contact and have discussions with many organisations, UN/EU related and others, more than ten in all, trying to promote the SFF and most don't open their doors to me. It is, therefore, surprising that only one organisation appears to recognise itself and on top feel needlessly offended. Why? I am a law abiding citizen who has great respect for his fellow human beings independently of their race or religion. In spite of straight talking I don't want nor intend to offend anybody. However as a law abiding citizen I have the right of free speech and I have the right to be critical of situations and institutions. As a law abiding taxpaying citizen I have the right to question how my tax money is spent. My little self is in rather important company with this theory. Ronald Reagan told UN secretary Boutros B Ghali in clear terms that the US was fed up that American taxpayer's money was being wasted. The issue was of course not the SFF and there was a rather heavy political agenda involved. Rightly or wrongly, as a result, the US withheld payments to the UN. You and I can't do that. We have to pay our taxes, whatever happens. What we can do, however, is try to understand what is being done with our money and, knowing the suffering of the African people, I want to know what happens with my developing aid money for the benefit of the leather industry in Africa. I want to know why there seems to be no way to get a fully fledged SFF project off the ground in spite of the fact that everybody is convinced of the value of the SFF when it comes to producing hides without flay cuts or holes. And I want to know why other projects, which according to me have less potential, are being funded. There must be a plausible reason, because it would be serious if there wasn't! I have asked those concerned for this reason but nobody has answered me. Now that's what bothers me, that organisations that are working only because we are paying our taxes are not prepared to answer simple questions. Why are we taxpaying citizens been kept in the dark? I like to be constructive, particularly in my criticism, by offering collaboration as I have done on more than one occasion and also to the client of the lawyers who challenged my Limeblasts. I like to get things done not for myself but for the leather industry, and the African leather industry in particular. When you believe that you are being stonewalled you have only one choice: abandon or dig deeper. I dig deeper. I am in good faith and I have nothing to hide. The thousands of readers of Limeblast can testify that I have never accused any help organisation of being dishonest, of embezzling money. I have accused them of being unhelpful, and I can confirm that. I have criticised projects as being a waste of taxpayers' money or at least that taxpayers' money could have been spent better. Isn't that allowed? Are help organisations and their employees above criticism? Why is it impossible for outsiders to obtain financing for projects, not only the SFF? The fact that I am now being attacked and someone is trying to shut me up probably means I am disturbing an existing order. I think that is wonderful. I think we all should have a chance to propose useful projects which are within our field of expertise. We are all entitled to know what is being done with our money! The law firm's letter finishes: 'You published all the words knowing that they were false, or recklessly as to their truth or falsity having calculated that the benefit you derived there from would outweigh any compensation to our client. Our client therefore claims exemplary damages. Our instructions are to demand as we hereby do admission of liability within the next seven (7) days from the date hereof after which the issue of quantum damages shall be addressed.' Of course I wrote to the law firm that I strongly and categorically deny all accusations. I am rather puzzled, however, by the statement of the law firm's client, hence one of my readers, regarding the benefit I am deriving from my publications. Well, for the record, I almost double the fee I receive from Leather International for each Limeblast and give it to charity: SOS Children's Villages, Unicef and Cancer Research. I am not aware of any other benefit. If there is any, someone please come forward and help me find it. Sam Setter [email protected]

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