Those are the words of Mark Twain and he is correct. That’s not to say you should ignore professionals like editors who may have valid criticism. The way I look at it, though, is if you’re willing to put your hand in your pocket and buy my book, then you certainly have the right to criticize. What you don’t have the right to do is be rude about it.
A few weeks back I made the mistake of putting a simple comment on social media concerning Donald Trump’s presidency. Nothing abusive, just words to the effect of “Come on yanks, get rid of him.” What seemed at the time to be simple banter almost ended up with a storm of protest. I’m English, not American, so I assumed there would be some who would tell me to mind my own business. Well, to be honest, as so called ‘leader of the free world’ I think all of us in western democracies have a right to criticize Trump. But it wasn’t the sentiment of what I had written that caused a meltdown, it was the word yanks that caused a huge backlash of criticism. Though the term yanks is a generic term for Americans to most Europeans, it seems in America it’s somehow derogatory if applied to people from certain States.
Okay, I’ll hold my hand up and say sorry, I didn’t realise I was offending anyone. But what I do find appalling is the number of really abusive messages I received concerning my post, as if I had condoned murder. I can take any amount of criticism but I do find abusive messages hard to swallow.
Next time I post on social media, I’ll seriously consider what I am writing isn’t abusive or rude before posting it… or maybe I’ll just print and be damned!
Tom Kane © 2017
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