criticism353

Okay. If you insist.

Constructive criticism is a very good thing because, when delivered correctly, it makes you rethink your beliefs and opinions and sometimes even your values; it's the engine of change ...

I've copped a lot of criticism on this blog over the years - some of it just hilariously disrespectful, some a tad scary, some barely literate, but most of it well thought out and valuable.

It's also led me to re-evaluate my thoughts about topics as diverse as rugby union (well, sort of), the burqa, feminism and the capitalisation of the word "Indigenous".

However, there are few groups out there that seem incapable of debate, bent as they are under monstrous inferiority complexes and, whatever you write about them, you're bound to be flooded with hate mail and profane tweets.

It's nigh impossible to fairly weigh someone's dissenting opinion when they start their defence with the words "you c---" or "f---wit", but it seems this is the province of people without a counter-argument.

As writer Christopher Hitchens once said of debates: "I always think it's a sign of victory when they move on to the ad hominem."

Me? I think it's a sign of a critic being absolutely bloody spot-on when a person or group can't laugh at a barb, like:

CYCLISTS

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a column for The Sunday Age and The Sun-Herald about cyclists. Admittedly, it was a long-hanging-fruit piece because a lot of people don't like cyclists, which everybody but cyclists seems to understand.

You can read the piece here, but the main thrust of the column is that cycling is the new golf, with the "same grim-faced, entitled white men who used to plague golf courses" now smugly telling you they've shrunk their carbon footprint since they traded in the Beemer for two wheels.

Again, it's low-hanging fruit; I don't seriously believe every cyclist is like this, but in the weeks since publication I've received hundreds of tweets from outraged cyclists calling for my sacking, as well as crowning me with delightful honorifics such as arsehole, muppet, dickhead, grub, moron and the above-mentioned c--- and f---wit.

To my mind, the true mark of the humourless is when they mistake criticism as some kind of call to war against them. Time and again on Twitter I was told I had incited people to hurt cyclists because I'd made some (admittedly lame) jokes at their expense, which must make stand-up comedians mass murderers.

I would never encourage or condone the injuring of a cyclist, nor anybody attempting to use a vehicle to intimidate them on the road.

However, cyclists need to realise that just because they've chosen a high-risk sport doesn't make the rest of us culpable in their deaths and maiming if we choose to laugh about their stupid clothes. 

Two weeks ago, I only half thought cyclists were uptight, humourless wankers. Now I know it's true.

FAT PEOPLE

If the emails I've received over the years from fatties are to be believed, nine out of 10 overweight people have some kind of congenital glandular/thyroid/lymph problem utterly divorced from them stuffing crap in their mouths.

Now that I AM ALSO a fat person, I see the feeble-mindedness behind this line of defence because I also know why I have put on 10 kilograms and it goes like this: I eat too much, drink too much and don't exercise enough.

But, hey, let's waste our breath promoting idiocy like some of the tranches of fat-acceptance, rather than healthy eating and moving our bodies as they were designed to do over millions of years.

As my fellow blogger John Birmingham, who's also felt the wrath of fatties, told me: "There's two elements to fat-acceptance. A quite reasonable demand that fat people not be abused because theyre fat. Fair enough. That's just good manners. And then there's the batshit crazy jihad against medical science, insisting that obesity is not a health issue. That's the sort of delusion that kills people."

BODY BUILDERS

Maybe it's because they used to get beaten up as kids, or they jack too much HGH and steroids, but body-builders are a very aggressive lot when criticised about their obvious vanity and egocentricity.

Notice here, fatties, that I can give it to both sides, i.e, people who are so completely devoid of care for their persons they collapse into obesity, as well as tools who spend two hours a day staring into a mirror and try to pass off narcissism as "healthy living".

Body builders and their ilk are the only people who have threatened to hurt my family and wished ill-health (and worse) on my daughter. Classy guys.

VEGANS

I know some lovely vegans. I've eaten at their houses and it's been yummy. I didn't even bring a lamb chop with me and demand they grill it. I respected their beliefs.

If you're a vegan, I expect the same courtesies to apply.

I do not need to be lectured and hectored about my decision to eat meat, nor do I need to be told I'm an environmental vandal. It's rude and it's not true.

Many vegans, however, react to any criticism of their militancy with extremely nasty words, again resorting to ad hominem insults.

Until I wrote a piece about body builders, vegans were the only people who had sent me death threats.

So, that's my small and heartfelt list of the most humourless sub-groups in our society - now watch me fall in love with a bodybuilding, vegan, cyclist who campaigns for plus size models to be used in magazine shoots.

Feel free to add your "most humourless group" to this list. And play nice, or your comments won't be published.

SYDNEY TALK

I'll be doing a short talk and Q and A this week, Thursday night, September 22 at Dymocks, 428 George Steeet, Sydney at 6pm. If you'd like to come along, please go here.

Sam de Brito's latest novel Hello Darkness is in bookstores now. You can follow him on Twitter here.