I’ve stopped commenting on some blogs because the authors there apparently believe they are above criticism and must either edit or delete comments from those who disagree with their pronouncements from on high.
Fred First, the undisputed dean of Floyd County bloggers, is not among this group of elitists. Fred lays himself open for comments and critiques on a regular basis and he doesn’t feel the need to either moderate or edit those who take issue with his observations. Fred was also the first to bring another blogger’s censorship of comments to my attention. I later experienced that heavy hand of rewriting history in real time and stopped wasting my time commenting on any future posts on any web site that feels they must edit comments.
I’ve found that too many bloggers are consumed with self-importance and the feeling that their opinions are the only ones that matter in this world. My granddaddy used to say that opinions are like assholes. Everybody has one and what comes out stinks pretty much the same.
I wrote an opinion column for The Roanoke Times from 1967-69 and also one for The Alton Telegraph from 1972-81. Both drew copious amounts of mail from readers: Some complimentary, some not-so-complimentary and some downright hostile.
"Don’t worry about it," said Elmer Broz, city editor of The Telegraph. "You have an opinion. So do they. You expressed yours. Let them express theirs. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your opinion is any more important than anyone else’s. It’s not."
Broz was right. I learned early on to develop a thick skin and accept criticism for what it is: Someone else’s opinion of my opinion — nothing more, nothing less.
I keep a copy of one reader’s letter in my desk.
"I don’t agree with a single thing you say," she wrote, "but I sure like the way you say it."
The inability of my previous blogging software (Movable Type) to effectively deal with spam forced me to moderate comments on Blue Ridge Muse until recently. I’ve since switched to another publishing platform that handles spam more effectively and allows posts without moderation. So comments on Blue Ridge Muse are neither moderated nor edited, which is the way it should be.
People who put their opinions in print or out on the Internet should both expect and welcome commentary and criticism and they should never, ever, fear the opinions of those who disagree.