September 18, 2010 9:13:00 PM
As a rule I am anything but valiant. However, when writing an opinion to the newspaper, it is a point of honor to put on my big-girl pants and sign my name. Hiding like a scaredy-cat behind an anonymous name so you can sound all big and tough without anyone knowing who you are ... that is the stuff of cowards. Even though it is hard on the nerves to stand up and publicly state your views, it is better than behaving like a no-name weenie.
I would rather not believe what seems to be true, that Birney Imes gives the same respect and value to writing done by those who cower and hide as to those who are out in the open. Say it ain''t so, Birney. The problem for the reader is we don''t even know if Birney himself is writing the comment or someone associated with the newspaper. Any editor should know that using anonymous writers breeds mistrust in the paper''s integrity.
Imagine if the Signers of the Declaration of Independence had been no-name weenies. They faced hanging and ruin. Yet, they signed their names.
All our local no-name weenies face is the reader''s ability to measure their credibility.
Now things have really taken an ugly turn. Democrat Travis Childers is using no-name weenies as the source for quotes in his ads against Alan Nunnelee. Voters, that should tell you all you ever need to know about Mr. Childers. He belongs to the Nancy Pelossi School of Dirty Tricks.
As Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten put it, "Anonymous comments are spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It''s as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."
Yes, Mr. Weingarten was a bit grumpy, but I applaud his directness in dealing with the subject. Anyone can have an opinion. But obviously, not everyone is willing to stand behind what they say. That is indeed a shame for the person who does the "spit-flecked rants" and the newspaper that prints them. It is even more despicable for Travis Childers to engage in such low politics.
Anne Burkart, Columbus
Burkart''s suggestion that I or Dispatch staff enter anonymous comments is nothing more than a cheap shot. We present a steady stream of opinions, unpopular and otherwise, in local editorials and personal columns ... and we give readers ample opportunity to comment on those opinions.
kj commented at 9/20/2010 1:21:00 PM:
Anonymous commentators have a long history in U.S. politics. The federalist papers were first published anonymously, in large part so that the focus would be on the logic of the arguments, rather than the political leanings of those making them. In fact, a good bit of high-level public discussion about the new constitution (both in favor of and against its ratification) was presented to the public pseudonymously.
I believe the ad in question cites additional references for the material. The real issue with the citation in the ad is that it is presented in such a way that the vast majority of the viewing public will assume the source is a reputable newspaper rather than an anonymous member of the public.
As to the issue of credibility; if all I had to offer was an extended ad hominem attack, I wouldn't be so quick as Burkart to publicly celebrate that fact.
frank commented at 9/20/2010 2:20:00 PM:
KJ and I rarely agree but I am with her/him on this. There is a place for anonymous comments just as there is for a secret ballot during elections. The point about how the citation is attributed in the ad is also dead on correct.
jenergy commented at 9/20/2010 9:21:00 PM:
I have to agree. Anonymous comments don't belong in such a great newspaper.
frank commented at 9/20/2010 10:50:00 PM:
"Anonymous comments don't belong in such a great newspaper."
And yet you just posted one...
sutter commented at 9/21/2010 4:31:00 PM:
tom brown: first of all / all comments require an email address...personally if one doesn't want to read the stuff don't read it...and if one is inclined to send a "letter to the editor and it is signed it can be published just like the lady did...sounds like a non-construction rant that provides enough of the old "the pot calling the kettle black" kind of thing...we are lucky to have an interactive community newspaper that is locally owned and takes a hands on approach to its day to day operations...if a print reader etc....doesn't agree with the policy of this newspaper they should provide a solution to the issue they are writing about...otherwise its just a complaint put into a suggestion box so to speak!
justin s commented at 9/21/2010 9:23:00 PM:
The real problem is that this latest blowup keeps the focus off of the real issues. Was it a poor decision to make an anonymous post seem like it came from a reliable newspaper? Absolutely. Rep. Childers and his staff should be embarrassed. If Nunnelee does the same, he should be reprimanded for it as well.
KJ--you are right on...Publius was a pretty important "person."
1. Our View: Tuition increases further evidence of misplaced priorities DISPATCH EDITORIALS
2. Ask Rufus: Three Houses LOCAL COLUMNS
3. Froma Harrop: Carmakers, don't pick a fight with California NATIONAL COLUMNS
5. Editorial cartoon for 4-21-17 NATIONAL COLUMNS