Criticism of someone’s work is totally fair game, in public or private.
- I criticize weight loss methods. (Not news to many of you.)
- I enjoy the (many-years-running) deconstruction of the World’s Worst Books.
It is also probably obvious that I have no problem with publishing and promoting one’s criticism, if you wish. Academics are probably familiar with this phenomena .
Criticism of the person is petty. As a debate tactic, when someone starts in on the person I tend to discount their statements. In dealing with people I know, yes, whether it’s “news” or “gossip” depends on one’s point of view.
- “[Person] assumes that everyone can and should reach normal weight according to BMI, however, the CDC does not consider this a reasonable expectation in their guide for physicians.” — Criticism of the work.
- “The author is stupid, fat, and blonde.” — Criticism of the person.
- “Necessary clues to whodunit were known to the viewpoint character but not disclosed to the reader until much later. I felt this wasn’t playing fair.” — Criticism of a mystery novel, aka, the work.
- “The narrative implies that gay and lesbian people are untrustworthy and suicidal. This is upsetting, and it’s a recurring motif in the author’s work. I am therefore not going to read (or otherwise support) this author’s work.” — Criticism of the work.
Some feel I crossed the line to criticizing the person in this post. I consider a TED talk to be a performance and thus subject to critique, and that I was very angry at his performed public repentance. Probably some pettiness there, yes!
Parody of a person works best when it is punching up and disclosed. My favorite twitter parody account, Queen_UK, is (to my mind) cheeky but not mean-spirited — which is a big part of why it’s my favorite. (I also follow LOLGOP, which is more snarky — but again, punching up and disclosed.)
Harassment of a person (not just criticism) is criminal in many, if not most, jurisdictions. This includes impersonation. I don’t know why someone would go to this extent; I do know that it is, or should be, illegal.
And if you haven’t already guessed what led to me writing this: