Monday, August 11, 2008

On anonymity

The post on Steve Swisher quickly veered off into an interesting debate over anonymity on the blog.

Much as I respect Todd Dow’s point of view (and, I’m sure, as he expected), we’re not going to change our policy on anonymity on the blog. We have two forums — Letters to the Editor in the print edition and Article comments on-line — that require verifiable identification.

This forum offers something different.

Part of the origin of the blog was the belief that there is a well of opinion in the Sisters community that isn’t given voice for precisely the reasons that many of the anonymous commenters cite: fear of retaliation in various forms in their off-line lives.
It is our belief that these opinions should be aired.

I have to say, however, that I regret the need for anonymity, both real and perceived. People should own their beliefs and be willing to stand behind them. On the flip side, people should respect others’ opinions and beliefs and not retaliate against them in business or socially because of them.

There’s tremendous power in standing up for something. I’ve aired an unpopular opinion or two in my day — with my name attached — and have been threatened with every kind of retaliation, including violence. That’s not much fun, but at the end of the day, there’s some satisfaction in facing it down.

I can’t opt for anonymity and wouldn’t if I could.

But everyone has to make such decisions for themselves. The choice is there on this blog — identify yourself or don’t. I don’t think anybody has abused their anonymity or been inflammatory for the sake of being inflammatory.

So far, I’ve only had to reject one comment — not because of the opinion, but because it was expressed in scatological terms that we don’t want to encourage.

Would I like to know who’s talking? Sure. Do I think the opinions expressed have no value if I don’t? No. I think it’s good to know what folks are thinking out there, even if I can’t put a face with a name or a name with a thought.

Jim Cornelius, Editor

3 comments:

  1. Well said, Jim & I agree 100% with all you have stated. I am afraid I am not as brave as you, however, & will continue blogging on in anonymity.
    Thank you for finding my opinion to hold as much value as anyone else's and for the encouragement to air our differences, our ideas, our thoughts, values and beliefs in a positive & perhaps productive manner. Just maybe we will challenge & stretch each others & our own worldviews a little bit, and find more common ground to stand on than cliffs to push each other off of!
    Again, thanks & keep up the open minded blog space!

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  2. Thank-you Jim..You are providing a needed forum for us working class bums!It was truly refreshing to see how many people saw the whole "Swisher" thing in the same way. Crook county schools are now facing serious funding issues and again this man continues to collect benifits!

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  3. Heather Wester (or is it?)August 19, 2008 at 7:23 PM

    I have to say that having the ability to post a comment anonymously is appealing, especially about certain issues. But like it or not, someone will always disagree and you have to decide if you are going to be offended or allow another opinion into your field of view. I see Todd's point, but wonder if people would use their real names or just come up with a "blog name", after all our names are just labels we were given at birth, a decision we had no choice about. The bigger picture may be that we don't always have to voice our opinions, especially when they fire us up so bad, maybe what we really need to do is look inside and figure out what it is about the issue that irritates us so much. Usually the things that bug us the most about others is the very thing we don't like about ourselves.

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