Your View: End the use of anonymous comments


By Townsend A. “Van” Van Fleet, Republican city council candidate

To the editor:
A few months ago I commented in the Alexandria Times that letters to the editor should have identified authors. To have anything less is a total disservice to the readers, and it sheds a questionable light upon the content of the comments and veracity of the source.

The July 9 edition of the Times printed a comment from DelRay821 in its “From the Web” section that attempts to denigrate Vice Mayor Allison Silberberg’s ability to serve as the mayor of Alexandria, and states that she must give her 100 percent support to city councilors running on the Democratic ticket in November. It also states that she should not give any help to the Republican candidates; otherwise, she must resign from the Democratic Party.

In response to a July 31, 2012 NPR online article (“Newspaper Takes A Stand On Anonymous Commenters”), an Internet commenter by the name of Bruce Apar so aptly stated: “It is consistent, predictable and smug that the same anon-persons who bend over backwards — as this thread amply demonstrates — to rationalize hiding behind pseudonyms also run to hide behind the First Amendment, which never mentions ‘anonymity’ along with freedom of speech.

“That’s merely the coward’s self-serving inference. Freedom of speech is not an absolute principle that respects every word uttered or written by someone. You can’t with impunity yell ‘Fire!’ in a movie theater as a prank. You can’t casually ruin someone’s good name for the sport of it.

“Where there is smoke, there’s fire; where there is freedom of speech exercised in full daylight by civil people who sign their names to posts, there is abuse of freedom of speech foisted on the rest of us by those who thrive only under cover of darkness. Daylight scares the Hell out of them.”