13 June 2014

Criticism #nlpoli

Take a gander at this letter to the editor of Overcast by someone using the name Samuel Wilkes.

It’s about a problem in the arts community with criticism.
We’re shit at giving it, we’re shit at getting it, respecting it, promoting it. Criticism in Newfoundland is bad.
And then a bit later Wilkes lays out the purpose of criticism:
Artists in NL fear criticism. It is your most important asset. You can write and write and write but at the end of the day you’re only getting better based on your notions of what a good piece of writing looks like. You need to test it. You need to send your [work] into the world and make sure your schema of what good writing looks like matches the reception.
Now read that again but instead of artists think of politicians and politics in general.

Think back over the past decade to any person who uttered any criticism or even any comment that deviated from the position of the people controlling the province.

What happened?

The least the person would get was a sneer that they were too negative.

More likely the critic would be accused of treason against the dying race.

Criticism is important in politics.  It’s the only way things will genuinely get better in Newfoundland and Labrador.

So when the leader of one political party gives a constructive criticism of the policies of the current administration, it’s important to note how the Conservatives respond.

Too negative.  Here’s Kevin Pollard, all fired up in the House of Assembly towards the end of May delivering a speech a lot of people found entertaining.
…this afternoon I will probably be in a combative mood. If you ask me why, it is simply because a couple of weeks ago the Leader of the Official Opposition gave me a lot of food to chew on, of which I cannot digest and I find it very distasteful. By extension, I assumed all the members across the way believe the same viewpoint. You might be wondering: Well, what is the problem? What kind of phrases did he use in his speech about a couple of weeks ago in a fundraising event? The phrase that really got to me, irritated me, and perturbed me as a proud Newfoundlander and Labradorian was the three words: lowest, worst and the last.

Why would he diminish our collective psyche? Why would he discourage potential tourists and investors to visit our Province by such negative comments? Is it because of his quest for power?

Entertaining though it may have been,  Pollard’s basic message was that Dwight Ball was too negative.

Pollard didn’t deal with what Ball actually said.  He didn’t refute Ball’s argument in any substantive way. 
He just told us that everything is wonderful.

And then he quickly turned to the old slime-ball play:  criticism is harmful. The person making the criticism must be doing it for selfish personal motives.

We have a problem in this province with criticism.

The problem is that there’s not enough of it.