Saturday 26 November 2016

Why Critique Is The Opposite of Censorship

Dearest nerdlets, I have a few things that I want to say:

Firstly, guess what? Not everyone is going to have the same opinions as you.

That's why there are countless bloggers out there instead of just one person. We all think different sh**. That means that sometimes other people are going to have completely different opinions to you.

Sometimes, hell, OFTEN, the difference in opinion is going to get awkward.

You loved a book. That's great. Someone else didn't. They have a different take on the representation, or the prose, or the characterisation, or whatever. Guess what? That's great too.

Feelings tend to get most heated when discussing representation of marginalised groups. And there are reasons for that - historic reasons that come from a lot of hurt, prejudice, and negative representation.

But if someone hates a book you loved, people often react like it's a personal criticism. It's not.

Critique - and that's what bloggers and reviewers are supposed to do, isn't it? we're not marketing machines, we're critics - is not meant to attack anyone.

Critique is a way of discussing what is in this book.

If we all claimed that every book was perfect, firstly, it'd be boring, and secondly, it'd be lying.


There is no book on this planet that is universally loved, with no flaws. Every book has good stuff, and bad stuff. Stuff you'd change, and stuff you wouldn't.

Now, someone else? They may keep all the stuff you'd change, and change all the stuff you'd keep.

The excuse that people use to bypass critique is censorship.

Critique is not censorship. Critique means someone has a different opinion to you - that someone disagrees with you, and is willing to express that.

Critique means that people are thinking about what they're reading. That people are allowing others to openly disagree. That people are not silencing the voices of dissent.

It's no coincidence, I'm afraid, that the voices that tend to be silenced are those belonging to people of colour (PoC,) LGBTQ+ people, and other marginalised groups.

Calling critique censorship is just another way to silence those voices. And that's not ok.

If someone complains about the way their identity - race, sexuality, religion, etc., is being portrayed, then don't accuse them of being unfair, or of censoring you.

Unless they have a history of personal vendettas with a particular author (and sometimes even then,) then they will have a reason for what they're saying. Listen to it. You may learn something.

And even if you don't, ultimately, agree? Their concerns and opinions are still valid.

Too often, you see people using the argument of censorship for their own purposes.

Trolls do this a lot - and, again, it seems to be PoC who get the worst of this - it's the attitude of 'I can say this horrible thing because free speech, but you can't disagree with me because censorship.'

The troll flexes their troll-y muscles by being the biggest a*shole.

Shouting 'Shut up, censorship!' when someone disagrees with you is censorship. Don't. Just don't.

People have a right to voice legitimate concerns.

Do I always agree? No. Of course not, I'm a stubborn little so-and-so.

But those opinions are totally valid.

Sometimes - and this counts especially for us white people, because we are, notoriously, really bad at this - you have to step back and listen to others.

The only way we understand is by listening.

And yes, I've changed my views by listening to people before now.

Look, we're human. We're going to disagree. There are even, unfortunately, going to be times when we can't get past* those disagreements. BUT WE'RE NEVER GOING TO AGREE WITH EVERYTHING EVERYONE ELSE SAYS.

*is it past or passed? I can never figure that out.

People from marginalised groups are not a hive-mind. And all of their opinions are valid.

But you have to listen - yes, even when there's not one opinion, but several.

It's easy to stand up for diversity and marginalised groups when the members of that group are agreeing with you. When they don't agree with you? You still have to listen.

Surely we can agree to give air-time to opinions that differ from our own? (And no, I don't mean the opinions of Nazi a*sholes.) I mean opinions about representation - from people affected by that rep.

No, it's not always going to be comfortable. But that's ok. It doesn't have to be comfortable. It just has to happen.

Because people have a right to raise their voices in disagreement. Not allowing them to do so? That's censorship.

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  1. SOMEONE FINALLY SAID IT!! I don't understand why people cry censorship when someone expresses their opinions, but they're allowed to express their offensive opinions all they want!

    1. It's a twisted way of censoring others, and ARGH! It needs to stop.

  2. Now the ironic thing would be if someone critiqued this post :3 But anyway, I have to say I whole heartedly agree! Critique is really good, and also so beneficial for development. And there are a lot of people who need to learn the difference between critique and opinion, because I feel like it starts a whole load of unnecessary conflict in the blogging community.


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