After a bit of pseudonymous reporting at the beginning of the Eye’s history, all reporters sign their own names. Regular columnists like The Colonel are another story. As long as their commentary does not veer into invective, their pseudonym is safe.
But anyone who is doing factual “reporting,” must take credit for their report.
While the Eye does accept and publish anonymous commentary in response to posts, each of those comments is reviewed to make sure that the comment is not a simple insult, a slur or an ad hominem attack.
The Eye editorial staff has had vigorous debates about publishing those anonymous comments, but agreed that if the comments provide an important perspective or piece of information, they should be published. If a baseless insult is sandwiched between facts, the comment is rejected.
I support the publication of such anonymous comments in the Eye, but I don’t much like them.
I believe that anonymous commenting is cowardly.
Sure, there are circumstances when an anonymous commenter has important information, of the whistle-blower variety, that should be published. In some circumstances, this whistleblowing could put them in a precarious position in their lives and workplaces. In these cases, anonymity is justified.
Those kinds of anonymous comments are rare.
What has become commonplace is a mean-spirited, anonymous bullying where the commenters, safe behind their electronic mask, can spew the most vile, unsubstantiated opinion imaginable, and get away with it. Or should I say, walk away from it, like a steaming pile of shame.
You will find that kind of comment on many daily newspaper sites and on blogs which exist exclusively to fuel anger and devisiveness. These blogs, in their proud anonymity, actually detract from honest public debate.
Anonymous commentary absolves the commenter from the basic courtesies of the social contract. Relieved of this burden, the anonymous commenter can vent his/her spleen and be satisfied that he/she will neither be recognized, nor challenged.
Anonymity allows commenters to say absolutely anything. about anyone, and then retreat under a rock while the pain and venom spreads.
Sounds like the approach of a viper, or nasty third grader, doesn’t it?
This kind of commentary does little toward spreading “truth,” and opening the door to forthright debate. It creates anger, resentment and a childish vengeance which typically manifests in an endless thread of specious claims, one more vituperative and inaccurate than the next.
Anonymous comments are sometimes funny and pointed, but more often churlish and childish. Why not take credit for your wit.
Anonymous commenting is a mudslide that threatens to smother civility.
Anonymous commenter, I’m all for a good argument. I absolutely defend your guarantee of free speech.
But I deplore your lack of common decency.
The next time you decide to post a nasty comment online, stop and count to three.
Ask yourself if you would make this comment to the actual target of your commentary, face to face.
Ask yourself if you’d make this comment standing next to you wife, mother or son.
Ask yourself if you’d make this comment while standing with work colleagues.
Ask yourself if you’d make this comment if you knew you were going to confront the target of your comment at a meeting a few hours later.
If the answer to all these questions is yes, fire away.
If the answer to any of these questions is no, you’re a coward. Stop hiding.
Own your opinions. I guarantee it will make them more thoughtful, more cogent and considerably less repulsive.