One of the reasons I got along with Bill Bradford, late editor of Liberty, so well for so long — long after most of his hires could tolerate his supervision — was his glee in acknowledging criticism. Not personal criticism, mind you, but literary. Specifically, he liked printing negative letters-to-the-editor, and did not really think most should be responded to by the authors or editors criticized. If someone marshaled a negative judgment, well, the letter-writers in the Letters column should, if at all possible, retain the last word. If the critic were correct, well, there it be; were he were not, then, the idiocy should be plain to see, and the criticized author should know when he was being unjustly criticized. And be content. With the content. In context.

But you guessed it, we did gloat over some especially silly responses.

Of course every writer prefers praise to contempt. And when we learn something, we find it difficult to complain. Indeed, learning should always be welcome.

That being said, expressions of disapproval that performatively prove our points are especially rich.

I get some pushback on Quora, for example, primarily from leftists. Some of it is instructive, but most is gloat fodder. And then there is the praise, too. For example, from a recent answer:

And I wonder if Bill Bradford would advise me never to hit REPLY. I suspect he would.

twv