August 21, 2004Top
* Critique is not an assault
Dear Pesare gol, ["Few and far between"]
Instead of being agitated by constructive criticism ["Reason
to be proud"], take it in
the spirit it was offered. I do not claim to be perfect, my
(by the way, I checked it, it is only missing a single comma, otherwise
it is basically OK). You might consider learning how to read punctuated
sentences. Besides I do not think I need to be flawless before I can
dispense advice. If that had been true, no parent, teacher, or cleric
could ever guide their charges.
However I am astounded as to how you have managed to interpret my response
to you in such a way to merit the reaction you have now provided! Where
is this California Iranian business coming from? Did I ever say anything
about THAT? When I say Iranian, I mean Iranian, I do not mean Iranian
American, Californian Iranian or any other subdivision. It is all inclusive.
In fact my exact phrase was; “I am proud that in Iran there are
brave people who stand up against tyranny and corruption”.
it carefully this time. I say that there are brave people IN IRAN who
stand against corruption and tyranny. I never said there are Iranians
in California who get themselves thrown into prison for Iran. And if
you believe that there are very few people in Iran that stand against
tyranny and corruption – as you so state now, then you are as sorely
mistaken as when you claimed that Hafez lived thousands of years ago
or Muhammad and Ali lived at the time of Fath-Ali Shah Qajar (two centauries
Pesar e gol, my intention in correcting you was to help you become a
better writer and be taken more seriously by your audience. When one
goes public, one cannot have glaring errors of fact like the ones you
had in your article. Do you know how many emails I have got from total
unknowns who are lampooning you? I do not welcome these messages, I am
saddened by them, I do not wish to receive them. However, somehow the
senders thought it justified to send me these, simply because I tried
to help you by correcting your errors.
This behavior of theirs is a mistake
but it shows that you have shot your credibility dead at least amongst
some people. Now instead of accepting criticism with grace, you go off
on a tangent and say a bunch of incoherent things about Iranian Americans
and the UN office etc. that I find very difficult to relate to the original
Writing is not about shooting off your mouth, or letting loose your fingers
on a keyboard. The kind of writing you are trying to delve into, must
be considered, collected, precise and accurate in facts. It should
show maturity in content, in style and in philosophy. You mentioned that
you were hurried when you wrote your article.
A writing of the nature
with which you took our time must never be hurried. If a job is
worth doing, it is worth doing well. Next time when you want to write,
do it when you have more time. Your writings will be read by others,
give them the courtesy of not wasting their time, misinforming them or
Do you realize that your writing might have been read
by a teenager who would then go on believing that Hafez lived thousands
of years ago? Did you ever consider the ten year old who would as a consequence
of reading your article mistakenly learn that Muhammad and Ali lived
only two hundred years ago or the portion between the torso and the buttocks
is referred to as “waste” and not “waist”?
writer has a public responsibility. If you wish to have an audience,
then you must work hard to improve significantly. Otherwise your writings
would bring negative impact, ultimately they would be detrimental to
you and your cause or causes.
I remember many years ago when I published my first publication. I was
so enormously proud of seeing my name in print. I was young and my writing
was immature, off-the-cuff and flawed. Decades hence, I am still embarrassed
of that writing and still wish that I had not proceeded with it.
years and over 100 internationally distributed publications later, my
colleagues still tease me about that first one. It is a friendly tease
but it is a reminder to me that one must not shoot off one’s mouth
without consideration, one must not write off-the-cuff. In my critiquing
your submission, I was trying to help you so in thirty years or so, you
would not feel the same way.
I am sure there will be people out there
who would tease you on you putting Muhammad Sham al din Hafez several
thousand years before Muhammad the prophet (who was obviously the namesake
of the former mentioned). I was not trying to tease you, I was trying
to teach you a lesson.
As an old man (or at least rapidly aging, if not
out-right old J ) and a professor who teaches this sort of stuff, I
was just trying to help. I used humor to wake you up a bit and mild critique
to shake you up a bit. I have found that these techniques work very
on my students, so I used them on you. I do the same with my son who
is a student of journalism and political science. I took you as my
e-son (internet son).
Unfortunately your response indicates that you have not
taken my comments in the spirit provided. You have taken offence. No
problem, but none was intended (tease yes, mild agitation, yes, offence,
no). This may be a consequence of any number of potential things such
as your youth, your inexperience or simply a quirk of your psyche.
I am saying is that I beg you, do not embarrass yourself by sending postings
and articles that give you -as the author- and us as a community, a bad
name. Also please read the writings of others with the care that they
deserve. Do not misinterpret or misrepresent them and their statements.
And, do not waste other peoples’ time by providing a response to
a statement that has nothing or very little to do with the contents of
the original statement.
Finally, and most importantly, take criticism,
particularly positive criticism in stride. I guess many of us need to
learn that. As a nation we tend to be offended too quickly and interpret
critique as assault. When someone spends time critiquing you, he/she
is not trying to hurt you or embarrass you, he /she is trying to help.
If you deserve critique, chances are you have already embarrassed yourself,
the critique is designed to prevent future occurrences of the same kind
My regards and respect to you with wishes for a better writing
P.S.: I was not mocking the six year old with the grenade
attached to his waist. In delivering my point home, I was using humor
to mildly tease
is a teaching technique. The entire story is a sad one, and not unique.
I restate my original statement – with which you incidentally disagreed – that
there are many people IN IRAN that stand in front of tanks and machine
guns, go to jail and fight tyranny and corruption. Some are six years
I said that I was proud of these people, you disagreed. Now you
say that I should be proud of the six year old because he killed himself
for me. This is what I do not understand about your writing. These
two statements of yours are contradictory and irreconcilable. Irreconcilable
contradictory statements make a writing illogical and therefore weak.
This is the sort of thing about which I am critiquing you.
To go further, I must say that heroic and impressive as the actions
of this young boy have been (and regretfully there have been many others),
such actions should be entirely unnecessary. Why should anyone of any
age attach grenades to their waists and lay waste a tank occupied by
some other perfectly healthy young members of the human race? This
a consequence of war, and war is a consequence of nationalism and nationalism
is a consequence of fervent national pride. And national pride is what
your article was promoting (or at least lamenting the lack of cause
for, in recent years). Turn to humanism, to humanity, so that six year
no longer need to attach grenades to their waists...
August 21, 2004
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