We’re “appropriating” this at the suggestion of a man called Ctein, who has been generous with text on more than one occasion.

“What artists can expect, though, is that people should not be insulting to their faces. I don’t think that’s unreasonable. In fact, if Mike didn’t block jerky comments from being posted, I wouldn’t write for him. I don’t put up with that kind of crap. Nobody should have to.

It seems like half the people on the Internet have come down with the web equivalent of Asperger’s Syndrome: they think that they may blindly speak the truth as they see it with no regard to other people’s feelings and that people should not take offense simply because they are speaking their mind. Well, sorry, Charlie, that’s not how people work. At least, not the emotionally whole ones.

Artists can’t expect everyone to like their work. But their audience also has no reason to expect the artist to accept obnoxious and gratuitously rude behavior.

I’ve had people politely, even regretfully tell me they didn’t care for my work. I am kind and respectful towards them, because I don’t expect the majority of people to like my work. I tell them they’re in a majority. And I’m cool with that. This makes them feel better. Sometimes it even makes them feel better about me. And on occasion, it has made them feel better about my art. A win-win all around.

I’ve also had people approach me abusively, expecting me to somehow be happy for their lack of manner and grace. For them I have a form letter I came up with a long time ago, back when letters to the editor were rare and one would only occasionally get one that ran in the vein of “If Ctein knew his elbow from… then he’d know…” It reads like this:

Dear Sir or Madam,

My deepest apologies. 

I seem to have created the impression that I am obliged to respond to any and all correspondence, no matter how insulting or rude it may be. I sincerely regret any inconvenience this may have caused you.

I am not.  


Feel free to steal it. I can tell you that on those rare occasions I feel compelled to send this to someone (less than once a year), they never, ever dare to write back.

The pen is not mightier than the sword…. But it can easily be more poisonous.”

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