Saturday, October 14, 2006

Blog Writing : On Uncharitable Criticism/Name Calling

There definitely are enough treatises out there detailing rules and standards for good writing style in blogging. And this would hold true with regard to the select words, ideas, and phrases to use to attract and invite readership to one’s blog. Teasing and goading those restless search engines to up rank one’s site in their search results.

There are even those which dispense recommendations on what subjects to write about for optimum exposure and penetration in the blogosphere.

Other works have ventured out into the world of proper etiquette and rules of conduct in blog writing.

But is there enough literature out there that addresses specific issues, say, concerning criticism, beyond just the tone and degree of civility in dealing with them?

With regard to uncharitable criticism which continues to be on the rise in the blogosphere, do we believe too readily what we hear or read about others, especially with regard to things that tend to bolster and validate our own pre-conceived notions about people and ideas?

Taking into account that we often render judgment on others – with prejudice, whether consciously perceived or not. Yet we are viscerally aware that frequently our judgments are influenced by our temperaments, tastes, moods, ambitions, and yes, even self-love.

Thus, it usually is the better path to refuse judgment on one person based on negative criticisms one hears from another. Many an innocent man’s name and reputation have been besmirched, not only when he is absent and unable to defend himself. But also when the man concerned refuses to stoop to the level of exchanging incendiary rhetoric or validating errant charges leveled against him.

We as a species are quite predisposed to feeling superior and justified when we criticize others. And in the process we are apt to exaggerate the faults of our neighbor. And trot in false courage and justified glee, knowing we have cavalierly humiliated or derided another.

And if inordinate interest in the criticisms is generated, it typically fuels and inflames more uncharitable talk.

Thus, still an effective way to show disapproval of back-biting is to seek shelter in the golden rod of silence.

We accept that everybody makes mistakes. And the human critic may very well “know” better than the others. But even then, that same critic may not discern the innermost motives and intentions of the person being criticized. In this light then, one has no right to reveal and delve on the faults of others, except to protect the innocent, to help the guilty person himself, or for the public good.

More importantly, we ought to remember we ourselves may object to being the object of such criticism if directed against us.

Speak now of the criticized one as we would want others to speak of us when we are criticized.

We ought to be more willing and predisposed to think well of others than to think evil.

And let us aim to leave all judgment, as much as we are able, to one where judgment resides.

For while man proposes, He alone disposes.


  1. I, for one, don't readily believe in what I hear or read about others. And we shouldn't really be too quick to criticize and judge others.

  2. What brought this on Amadeo? Did you read some ascerbic comments in another blog, or did someone go after you?

    I love debate, as long as it's civil. As soon as people use foul language or revert to name-calling that's when I excuse myself. I don't even read blogs where the blogger allows such things from their commenters. One can disagree without being disagreeable, yes?

  3. Phil:

    As part of a regular routine, I typically immerse myself reading through a lot of partisan political blogs here in the US, and a few from over there.

    While typically there is a lot of preaching to the choir in these partisan blogs and their commentaries, there is also a lot of unkind name-calling and ad hominem comments. To me personally, quite senseless and unnecessary. And quite a turn-off, too.

    Thus, just doing my little bit to try to re-install civility and circumspection in public discourse.

  4. Amadeo,

    Your post is an excellent attempt "to re-install civility and circumspection in public discourse."

    Here are two more reasons to attempt what you are trying to do:

    Colossians 4:6 "Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt..."

    Ephesians 4:29 "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth..."


  5. Obiously, the "grace" part I get, but what's up with "seasoned with salt" part? Shooom! Right over my head!

    "Corrupt communication?" Corrupt in this context seems a bit nebulous as a definition. Corrupt is interpretted how?

  6. A very goof and timely post, Amadeo. I, too, enjoy visiting sites by political pundits both here and U.S., and often get disheartened whenever some fiolks begin to attack each other personally.

    I also echo Niceheart's comments.

  7. I always believe what Niceheart writes. Why would she lie? Grin....

  8. Philippinesphil,

    Speech is like food in that it is either digested or not by it's hearers. Sometimes speech involves what in effect are hard or unsavoury things to people who don't want to hear the particular message involved. If such things (hard, and unsavoury as viewed by the hearers) is or is not the case when someone is talking, Colossians 4:6 admonishes that the speech be accompanied by "grace". But the verse goes even further and states "seasoned with salt":

    Job 6:6 "Can that which is unsavoury be eaten without salt?..."

    Scripture interprets scripture. Colossians 4:6 in the context of Colossians chapter 4 reveals certain things but in the light of other scripture reveals a lot of other things. Included in the numerous things revealed is the idea that if you are talking to some people what they view as hard, unsavoury things, then try to make the things savoury by "salt", that is, Biblical truths and words and/or your own words and ideas that will attempt to make the message more digestable to those who are having trouble digesting (accepting) the message you are giving. Colossians 4:6 means many things in the light of other scripture, I have just given one of the things it means.

    As for Ephesians 4:29, "corrupt" is interpreted as any speech God views as corrupt. What speech He views as corrupt is revealed in the book He produced, the Bible. And a study of that Book reveals numerous types of speech he views as corrupt.

    What Amadeo argues against in his post is part of the corrupt speech that is revealed by the Bible as something that shouldn't be spoken. Thus my comment viewed in realtionship to what Amadeo said amounted to if I may paraphrase it,
    (1) keep it up Amadeo for what you are doing is one of the very things God wants done,
    (2) God's words quoted from Ephesians 4:29 reveal that what you are attempting to do in terms of the particular post involved is correct, and
    (3) strive always to do yourself what is contained in Ephesians 4:6 as well as strive to get others to do what you suggest by your post.


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