Rights? Privileges? Wrongs? Confusion!

Much of what we humans may think are rights are actually privileges.

And even those can be quickly redefined with a short walk in the jungle.

Go stand in front of a hungry lion and say “I have a right to life and to be here.” And see what happens.

The King of the jungle gets to write the rules.

And you are food.


Now what has this got to do with Abu Dhabi?

Well it depends. This week an Australian woman and her family were deported from Abu Dhabi for posting a photo of a car parked in a parking spot for handicapped people and “writing bad words” on the internet – after having lived there for around 3 years.

I have spent 15 years working in Indonesia – another Muslim country – and almost half of my life as a visitor and guest in countries of which I am not a citizen. One learns to respect the laws, customs, mores of the places that give you stamp in your passport to visit them, even make a living there.


So let me try to analyze a few things:

It is Ramadan. The Muslim holy month of fasting. During this period people are prescribed to be extra careful with word, thought and deed. And keep that which may be considered “bad” or offensive to themselves.

Posting a photo of a parked car – in whatever location – and adding some “bad words” is not the way to behave during Ramadan. We do not know who parked the car there and for what reason. It might have been an emergency.

The woman says she only posted a photo. No words. The news did mention “bad words” without describing them. If they were not good enough to mention on the news, then why would someone consider it good enough to post on an almost worldwide platform?


A judicial source says she added “crazy” and “a slang term for a male sexual organ” (crazy dick?)

Not the way to behave when referring to a person you don’t know and in a country where you are a guest. And not knowing why the car was parked there.

Observation: Different countries, different laws, different customs, different mores. Respect them.

Did the parked car inconvenience the woman? We don’t know, but let’s assume not.

So what has it got to do with her? Minding one’s own business is preferable in a country where you are a guest. I repeat “a guest”.

One more point: One would have thought that after 3 years in a Muslim country one would have developed some cultural sensitivities – especially around fasting months.


Observation: Maybe the company who employed the husband should have run a cultural sensitivity course for the family.

Was there a lesson learned here? One would hope so.

One more thing: The Abu Dhabi State Prosecutor said that the actions committed by the woman fell foul of the 2012 Federal Anti-Information Technology Crimes Law No. 5.” Now the woman probably did not know of this law – all the more reason to be careful in a country you visit and work in.


And to close this off: The woman also posted her apparent “appreciation” of her government’s action as “…belated efforts of the embassy..”. More “bad words”?

Question: Is an embassy there to mop up the personal problems of those who land themselves in strife through publishing “bad words”?

Maybe the relevant department should take note of this appreciative comment when dealing with a request to re-issue or extend a passport in future.


In Singapore, some years ago, an “under-aged” male was given 3 cuts with a rattan (cane) after spraying someone else’s car with paint. The West called the caning a cruel, barbaric and middle age deed.

Well was it? It was not the sprayer’s property. He acted stupidly in a country where he was a guest.

Question: What is so difficult to understand? Different countries have different laws.

Apparently the person was caught back in his home country 9 months later doing the same thing. Question: 3 cuts were not enough? No lesson learned?

Go spray your dad’s car – and see how he likes it. Or their TV set. Or couch. Or bedroom. Or the car of the President who stood up for you. Or better still: go buy your own car and spray it.

In Australia, this same week, two men who shot dead another man and then set the corpse alight, each received a 9 year sentence. Only 9 years. The reason? “They are from broken homes”.

Broken homes? So tell me, whom of us are from perfect homes? Is that an excuse to kill someone and then set his corpse alight? But there are whispers that this was a drug-related matter. Drugs. Yes drugs.

Not a broken home. Now wasn’t that a cruel and barbaric deed?


People tend to do silly things, even self-destruct on social media platforms.

Recently a person was given a job at a fast-food chain. On a Friday. Over the weekend she posted on Facebook saying she didn’t really like the job. Her manager posted back “Don’t bother coming in on Monday”. Fired before she started. In today’s tough environment should one not respect being employed?

There is no “right” to be employed, as she soon found out.

Again, was there a lesson learnt here? One would hope so.


  • The public domain is not there for you to insult, gripe, slander.
  • You are not a citizen of the web. You are a guest on the web.​
  • We live on a planet that we are not in control of – and we all share.
  • We don’t really have many rights. We have privileges. Most of today’s “rights” are recent politically correct inventions.
  • We need to learn respect and behave respectfully.
  • We need to behave responsibly. And take responsibility for our actions.

If we do not, then we may have to face consequences. Some of which may be very unpleasant. The choice is ours. And that is right.


Or am I just old fashioned?


And to top the week off: A foreign sportsman was arrested in Miami after playing music too loud in his hotel room and refusing 3 times to tone down the party. He then resisted arrest and has now been charged with two offences.

Consequences? He may now have a police rap sheet in a foreign country.

The newscaster mentioned that the sportsman has also not been picked to represent his country in a prestigious event and that he must earn the right to do so.

The newscaster got it wrong. It is not a right. It is a privilege. Let’s get it right.


  • Rights are often confused with privileges.
  • Not everyone sees things your way. It helps to be sensitive – and establish the facts.
  • Man has very few “rights” – if any – on a planet we do not control.
  • Technology can be a dangerous platform if used unthinkingly.
  • Different countries, different laws, different customs, different mores.
  • Criminals are often excused due to “having been brought up in broken homes”.


  • Learn to respect others and behave respectfully.
  • Behave responsibly. And take responsibility for our actions.
  • Learn the difference between a “right”, a “wrong” and a “privilege”.
  • Be prepared to face the consequences of your deeds and words.
  • Don’t write “bad words”. You don’t have a right – and it’s not right.



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