In which our intrepid hero maintains the rage.

I don’t often find myself quoting Bambi, but one of Thumper’s lines sticks in my head: “If you can’t say something nice… don’t say nothing at all.”

As much as I’d love to believe it relevant, I really can’t endorse it. Far too many times in my life, I’ve seen well-placed derision derail ill-founded schemes, and otherwise well-intentioned people suffer for their poorly-chosen silence.

Truth be told, there’s an art to malediction. The Movie Blog‘s brilliantly scathing review of Meet the Spartans is a case in point:

This movie has no redeeming scenes and/or attributes. If I prevent people from seeing this film; I will have done a service to my fellow man.

I thought this film would be bad, but I didn’t think I would have had my time so horribly wasted. I would rather watch a custodian wash elephant assholes at the zoo for a day than sit through this film again. I did get a hot dog at the theatre; at least that was rewarding.

Not everybody can trash a movie that thoroughly; it takes a certain command of the language to bring that level of scorn to bear.

As competent as the previous review may be, better yet is Thomas Huxley‘s endorsement of Charles Darwin’s masterwork, On the Origin of Species:

Everybody has read Mr. Darwin’s book, or, at least, has given an opinion upon its merits or demerits; pietists, whether lay or ecclesiastic, decry it with the mild railing which sounds so charitable; bigots denounce it with ignorant invective; old ladies of both sexes consider it a decidedly dangerous book, and even savants, who have no better mud to throw, quote antiquated writers to show that its author is no better than an ape himself; while every philosophical thinker hails it as a veritable Whitworth gun in the armoury of liberalism; and all competent naturalists and physiologists, whatever their opinions as to the ultimate fate of the doctrines put forth, acknowledge that the work in which they are embodied is a solid contribution to knowledge and inaugurates a new epoch in natural history.

Although long-winded, I suspect that with that one sentence, Huxley may well have had as profound an impact on English wit as his friend Darwin had on biology.

More importantly, both passages, whilst denigrating the authors’ real or perceived foes, were written to advance the common good—one to decry the stupidity of recent attempts at movie parody, and one a call to arms to throw off the shackles of dogma and embrace reason.

In these days when media outlets fear to contradict government and reviewers are punished for their honesty, it’s important to remember that whilst invective may coerce men to harm, it can also protect, educate and spur the downtrodden to action; and that the truth—no matter how unpleasant—must be heard if we are to remain free.

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