The Sixth Rule of Criticism: All criticism is autobiographical. Criticism reveals at least as much about the critic as about his subject.
Recently a candidate for election as judge, a guy whom I consider a true friend and whose back I have always had, interpreted my listing of candidates for the various Harris County judicial benches (before I added the note at the top of the post) as a “dual endorsement” of him and his opponent. I wouldn’t have endorsed his opponent under any circumstances, and I thought my friend knew this. Instead of realizing that or at the least calling me to ask, he started complaining to others that I had endorsed both him and his opponent.
I was dismayed by his response. If I had done what he thought I had, it would have been a betrayal. Had I not made it clear to him that I had his back? Had I fallen down on the job somehow?
Or were his complaints self-revelatory criticism? Often the critic reveals things that he would prefer the world not know.
A corollary of the Sixth Rule of Criticism is Nedlog’s Rule: In any ambiguous situation, how a person thinks he is being treated is the way that he would treat others were the situation reversed. People who blame see blame everywhere; betrayers see betrayal. Never ever trust anyone who accuses you falsely of lying. A guy who always has his friends’ backs will always assume—even in the face of a great deal of evidence to the contrary—that his friends are acting in his best interest.
And so I assume that my friend will always be on my side. But I’ll make sure he knows that thinking I won’t always—even when he is wrong—be on his, is definitely not cool.
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