criticism Le destin du Liban est tributaire de celui de la liberte de ses medias. L’existence du Liban est tributaire de sa liberte (Quotes from Gebran Tueni’s garden in Beirut)

A lot of Lebanese cannot handle criticism without feeling hurt, defensive or angry. Whether it’s constructive criticism, satire or mockery, a lot of people feel offended by the comments made on politicians, religious leaders, actors, or on Lebanese as a whole.

Every time a leader or a religious figure is insulted, we see reactions that only make the situation worse. I can understand people getting upset over a comedy skit mocking their leader, but I don’t understand how blocking roads and burning tires will achieve anything. Back in 2006, religious fanatics invaded Achrafieh to protest against Danish cartoons mocking the Prophet just because the Danish consulate is there. Also in the past few years, we’ve seen a lot of angry protesters blocking roads whenever someone insults or disrespects their political/religious/tribal/sectarian/feudal leader, and the most recent protests took place yesterday following MBC’s “lame” comedy skit on Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah.

If MBC broke any of the Lebanese laws, then let the authorities handle this issue. That’s one of the very few things that our government excels at, looking after online users that insult the president, a religious, or a prominent leader or even photoshoping posters. In fact, if the authorities were as efficient in tracking down criminals and terrorists as they are with arresting people over Facebook posts and Tweets, Lebanon would have been a much safer country to live in.

As for those who took the streets yesterday to express their anger or did so online, here’s one of my favorite quotes on this criticism:

“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body; it calls attention to the development of an unhealthy state of things. If it is heeded in time, danger may be averted; if it is suppressed, a fatal distemper may develop.”

No matter if it’s a good or a bad criticism and even when it’s insulting and disrespectful, reacting angrily or blocking roads and burning tires will only make things worse and benefit those behind the original critique, no matter how negative it is.

Needless to say, this is not about what happened yesterday but about accepting criticism as a whole. We all need to start with ourselves, especially if we are bloggers or share opinions online. I personally read every comment that I get and always ask my friends to give me a sincere feedback on certain posts. I’ve learned a lot from negative and positive comments throughout the years and I love debating with the blog’s readers. It’s the only way to improve your posts and become a better and more responsible blogger. If you don’t do that, you will become full of yourself and grow further haters.

All in all, I personally believe that the press should be given the full freedom and that no one should be exempt from criticism, but we are still unfortunately very far from achieving that in Lebanon.