In my experience the 3 little words “I’m not being … ”, (insert the relevant missing word of your choice) are often the precursor for an insult or other offensive comment.
“I’m not being rude, but …”. Meaning – I am going to say something insulting. I am, however going to deny my intention to be rude.
“With respect…”. Meaning – I have no respect for you or the ideas you are expressing. I am, however going to use those words as a figleaf to hide the fact I’m insulting you.
“I’m not racist but …”. Meaning – I hold highly reprehensible views on race. I am, in fact a racist bigot.
“Some of my best friends are …”. Meaning – I don’t like this particular group of people, however I hope to disguise this fact by using the forgoing words.
“Its not you, its me …”. Meaning – It is (in my opinion) entirely down to you that this relationship (insert relevant example) isn’t working. I am, however going to let you down gently by pretending that it is all my fault.
Shakespeare’s words, “One may smile and be a villain” spring to mind.
Of course for any authors (or, indeed anyone who has been subjected to trolling) it is no laughing matter. Trolls lurk on Goodreads among other places and goad authors by posting deliberately inflammatory reviews and comments so as to provoke a reaction from the unfortunate author. Don’t respond, treat the trolls with the contempt they deserve, They are sad people with no life who, with a little luck will crawl back under which ever rock they have emerged from.
I have read a number of articles dealing with personal attacks on authors. However I had not, until recently been subjected to such an attack. Before proceeding further I want to define clearly what I mean by the term “personal attack”. By personal attack I do not mean someone saying that they do not like my work when such views are expressed in a reasoned and measured manner. I don’t like all the books which pass through my hands. I have, however never criticised and/or insulted the author. The comments accompanying the below post do, in my view cross a line, http://newauthoronline.com/2013/10/12/bemused/#comments.
What I find particularly galling about the views expressed is the implied criticism of my books by a person who has not bothered to read them. If a reader dislikes my work after having read it then I must, of course respect their opinion even if I disagree with the assessment of the reviewer. The reviewer has taken the trouble to read my work rather than making sweeping statements about my “pretentsions to literary merit” without having opened my books.
Freedom of expression is vitally important, however I can not respect the views of a commenter who comments on my ability as a writer without having read any of the books written by me.