April 13, 1949
Dear Mr. Crosby:
If the critic-shooting season is truly open allow me a brief response to your article on the subject. There is no closed season on playwrights. Any critic is free to open fire on any one of them at any time and from any position, as your remarks demonstrated. It's a bit unsportsmanlike, since the critic sits in a bomb-proof shelter and the playwright travels unarmed and unprotected across the open, but that's the way the game is played, and naturally that's the way the critics like it.
I agree with you that it's a shameful thing for a playwright to purchase space in a newspaper to argue that the critics have too much power. It's not courteous for a playwright to point out that there were no critics at all in the great days of the theatre and that in a democracy the audience, not the critics, should judge the plays. Moreover, I have a vegetarian attitude toward critics. I shall never shoot one. I feel toward them as I feel about the sacred bulls and cows that wander unscathed through the kitchen gardens of vegetarian India, making free with the truck and leaving an occasional deposit of useful compost. They should not be shot. They should not be put to work. They should continue on their witty, inaccurate, unscrupulous way, free to browse, gore and trample. It's good for the peasantry. It keeps them on their toes. It runs the fat off them and keeps them healthy.