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Letter: Good reason to stay anonymous

Rep. Rick Watrous’s letter to the editor, “Make online commenters own their statements” (Monitor, Nov. 13), merits a response. One reason for a writer to remain anonymous is to protect himself, his family and his employer from flak by association. Another is to dodge the name calling, such as “anonymous yahoos” and “internet trolls,” by those who think name-calling is an effective tool. That tactic may work on the playground but not in adult life.



Legacy Comments40

Much has been written about "trolls"..The best advice seems to be to ignore them. Its a rare comment of mine that does not get a response from figure it out...

We're all entitled to our own opinions, but not our own facts. Anonymous comments make it easier for some to make distorted and outright false claims with little or no attribution. And when those fail, simply end a thread by name-calling. The most obvious and glaring example is any discussion on climate change, but it surely is not limited to that topic. Over time the effect is the internet equivalent of Gresham's Law--bad comments drive out the good ones, and debase the level of discussion. And irony of ironies, those who complain here most loudly about being the victims of name-calling and harassment are the ones who in the past have participated most actively in the behavior, and yet deny engaging in same. And let me add there is a difference between blind name-calling, and describing and naming behavior that some posters engage in that fits a particular definition. "Trolling" is aptly descriptive of repetitive posts that add nothing to the discussion, are incoherent and rambling, or distort the same facts over again.

In that case then you should stop doing it. That is the simplest fix. That Daniel Patrick Moynihan quote is overused.



Reply to Common Grind below. I did receive death threats were sent to my home but the letters implied that I should "watch my back" and had derogatory statements about my family, my life, etc. I did report these to the post office but they could do little. My point is that these people were not "conservatives" or "Republicans". They were progressives and they were attempting to intimidate me and shut me up. The question begs, why? Because they don't want discussion, they don't want "diversity" of opinion, they want no opposition to their own agenda. Now to your second point you mentioned employers and "extreme" political views. It is not extreme to believe that people should be self responsible, that taxes should be low, that government should be small and effective and to have a view about the President and be willing to call out his failures. That is opinion but it is not "extreme". Progressives love to redefine traditional Amercan views, values, ethics and morals as "extreme" to again, try to silence opposition to their "change" agenda.

Me thinks you protest too much Itsa.... John

Me thinks you don't think enough.....Brad

Well G Carson, I do not see the Dems actually addressing what Sail says, instead they ignore his statements as far as what he actually says. If he states stats, he gets comments like, It must be nice to have a crystal ball, etc. A poster here admitted he would hire a Dem over a Rep. That is discrimination based on your political beliefs. Yet the poster does not see it that way, I do not believe that posts here have to be nasty. It sure would be nice though if folks would address what is said, instead of name call. And I mean all posters. I believe that we have been divided by this President, and that is sad. He promotes discourse.

I do not believe that the division is all this presidents doing, it is more a result of partisan politics. More specifically, we are more concerned with placing blame than fixing anything. As far as political preference limiting job prospects, I don't buy it. I have worked my entire life and have never seen any indication that politics was even an issue, now being a yankess fan has caused issues.

I think you are close. In my opinion the division is deliberate. Washington politics playing the American mindset like sock puppets. Turning neighbor against neighbor, defeating any sense of unity this nation was founded on. Everybody is too busy pointing fingers in other directions and talking in dumb sound bytes , instead of doing the things they were elected to do.

Makes no difference if Watrous is a democrat or a republican. My point is - in very simple language - calling names is not what it takes to sway my opinion on ANY subject. Name calling is counterproductive. Jane

Reply to Itsa, below... Dear John: Let’s review. First you implied that going public would put your life in danger at the hands of the violent liberals, based on your claim to have received death threats in the mail for expressing your opinion. Oddly, you were silent, however, when I asked what had happened with that law enforcement investigation. Now you offer a different excuse: it’s not your life but your livelihood that is endangered when your views are known(?) As of now, employers are still free to avoid hiring someone whose political views they consider extreme. But what I’m getting from you (and this letter-writer) is that so-called right wingers now consider themselves a repressed minority in need of protection. The last I checked this was supposed to be the land of the brave. People like Jack Kennedy. I feel like I knew Jack, John, and John, you’re no Jack.

Common Grind, I have received threatening letters and I was instructed to bring the letter to the post office. They took a picture of the letter and said that they would investigate but found nothing. Strange enough I did not receive any more letters. The person was a liberal and they attacked my political views and their comments were beyond creepy.

There has been a change in how folks treat each other with this administration. Racism is used at the drop of a hat, if you were against the Catholic Church being told they had to change their tenets and offer BC, you hated women, and if you were successful and could afford to take a vacation or buy a new car, you were greedy. Politics has no place at work, or in our schools, nor does religion. Period.

Actually Rabbit, I think it started before this administration, although the virulence on BOTH sides has worsened. The conservatives have a point when they say liberals treated Bush with no respect. As a person of great ineptitude, I think he deserved that. But I'm also beginning to understand the concept of respecting the office itself and I regret some of the statements I've made in the past. The lack of respect on BOTH sides has degraded our shared life. And we do share a life.

We share a life? OK, please pick up my dry cleaning today and drop it off at my house. While you are there can you feed the cat?

Agree Ducklady. The vile that was put on Bush, Palin, Bachman and pretty much all black conservatives, was the start of the hate rhetoric. I do not agree with the statement that if someone is inept, they deserve what they get. Bush made a lot decisions I disagreed with, but he kept us safe, and he did a heck of a lot for AIDS funding. The left does not review what President Obama does. They just make excuses when he makes bad decisions, and take him at his word. They believe he is incapable of messing up. Not sure why they feel that way, but many who admire his policies, really have no clue how those policies will impact the economy, jobs, etc. It is all in the presentation though when disagreeing with others.

RabbitNH, Ducklady said that we all share a life. The issue is that when I got home she had not delivered my dry cleaning and my cat was starving. Some sharing, huh?

By which I meant we share a planet. Is that clear enough for you? Were you trying to make a joke and it just didn't work because we're communicating in writing? I hope so. I'd hate to think you were being deliberately obtuse when someone was actually reaching out to you.

Reaching out? You'd be more successful if you "reached out" with your hand in good faith and not a big stick.

Um, you're right. I was trying to separate the man from the office. I do think Bush was inept. And no, I do not respect him as a person. BUT... I really do understand now the concept of respecting the office so I regret some of the off-the-cuff comments I've made in the past. As for the current incumbent, I don't know what to make of him. I honestly don't. The vitriol really makes it difficult to assess what's going on.

There you go...John makes the case for staying anonymous ...the simple fact you are not a liberal might cost you a job. No other argument is closed.

Or... the simple fact you're not a conservative might cost you a job, no? I'm pretty sure every business in NH is not owned by a liberal. Mr Duprey can hardly be accused of being a liberal and he runs a business that contributes greatly to this area in many ways. The bottom line is you need to be responsible for what you say publicly. You appear to not want that responsibility, in which case you are free to keep your private opinions private, as do many of us.

So much for free speech. I see the liberals here as wanting to stop debate or anything that might slow down their agenda. There are many liberals posting here as well. It depends what you have to lose. GWTW is correct. If you were conservative, posted here and worked for the state, you don't think that your union supervisor at the state would not start trying to find a reason to give you a hard time or a reason to get rid of you? Think again.

Apparently in your mind free speech has absolutely NO consequences, no responsibility. You just get to say whatever you like and the rest of us must continue to cater to you. Nice world you live in. I've worked for the state. I have no idea what my bosses' political persuasion was. We never talked politics. I will say that several offices in which I worked probably had mostly very conservative people working in them. You really should get out of Concord more often, Itsa. There's a whole big world out there.

reply to John below...I hear Anthony Weiner is looking for work...

You make a good point, and I confess if I were hiring someone for an office job and the candidates were equal except one was a Democrat and the other a Tea Partier I would choose the Democrat, because I would think he/she would be a more compatible office-mate. But I would only do that if they were truly equal, which is seldom the case. If you think your views trump mine, why are you not arguing for anonymous letters to the editor in the Monitor?

Well, that is a thought as the editors could say: "A resident from Concord wrote:,,,,,,,,". Might work? The editors would need to give scrutiny to the letter writer and know who they were in order to pass their opinion through.

Admitting that you only prefer to hire Dems is a form of discrimination. It Is the same as saying you will not hire a woman, a gay person, or a Christian. Politics do not belong at work, our schools, or anywhere. Period.

First of all, the “anonymous yahoos” and “internet trolls” terms you referred to were not directed toward any individual, so I don't know why anybody would be offended by that usage, unless, as the saying goes, if the shoe fits, wear it. I support Mr. Watrous's call for real names on online comments. Again, why require it on the printed page, but not on the computer monitor? That logic escapes me. I do hope and expect that the Monitor would monitor all online postings on its website, and would expunge any that verbally attack or insult others. The point is to raise the level of discourse.

I guess that you missed the part of the letter where Jane wrote: "One reason for a writer to remain anonymous is to protect himself, his family and his employer from flak by association". If you are gainfully employed or looking for a job, that could be a killer based on the bias of the employer. I don't think that there are laws protecting someone from people judging you on your political views and even if there is, they would use another excuse. I applied for a position I was ultimately qualified for with a company in NH whose owner is very progressive. My inside source said that they laughed when they received my resume and the comment was made: " I would not hire _________ if they were the last person on earth, they are a right winger". Now they knew that from my letters to the editor. They acknowledged to my contact there that yes, I was very qualified but they would never hire me. So, some people want to express their opinion but not be demonized by others in public using their name. If someone was in the 70's and retired, that might be a different story.

Itsa, How is requiring names on internet comments any different from requiring them on letters to the editor? Or are you saying they should be anonymous also?

One is print and more opinion based. The other gets progressives to name call and try to expose others so that they can be shamed.

Itsa, What??? What the heck are you talking about??? Seriously, you're not making any sense whatsoever here. BOTH are in print and both are opinion based. I read the print edition of the MONITOR online. Comments on line are no different than a letter to the editor, except they're shorter. Seriously. And how on earth does typing on a keyboard "get" someone to name call? Are we not talking about people being responsible for what they say in the same way they are responsible in the letters to the editors? You can't have it both ways, Itsa. We could have civil discussion here, as we do in the letters section of the paper. But it seems that's not what you want. You actually WANT this anonymity. That surprises me. I should think you'd be proud of your positions.

It makes total sense. Are you aware that what you post online in your name is online forever and when someone searches your name, it all comes up. So, a poster here on this site who posts 500 comments throughout a year will be all over the internet. Take anyone who posts here regularly under their own for don't think that employers or others use that information? You are saying that we should post our names and accept other peoples prejudices and name calling and judgment which progressives are experts at. Name calling like trolls, tea baggers, right wingnuts, extremists, etc. Don't think so. Civil discussion starts with both sides being open, not with one side calling the other side extremists and immediately dismissing their positions. If progressives were open to compromise then maybe it would work but we only need to look at Obamacare, Obama and his lack of compromise and yesterdays nuclear option to see that progressives want their own way and the ends justify the means. What you really support and what it would turn into is one side calling out individuals and shaming them in public for their views. Sorry, your real agenda is too obvious.

The level of discourse on this forum has quite a few Dems who contribute on a daily basis. Folks are called hateful, greedy, mean, trolls, not living in reality, and a host of other insults. And they are also leveled with assumptions, usually negative ones, to get them to bite and be put on the defensive.

Rabbit, don't put this on the Dems as you stated. All one has to do is look at any anonymous post by sail to grasp the downside of hiding behind screen names. Case in point from another comment today - "US Big Govt liberal Union Monopoly public schools also spend more per capita than any other country... US schools produce an awful lousy product... teachers are famous for their obesity..." I believe this totally unrelated post meets all of your criteria. I will admit that this type of blather pushes my buttons but I am more than willing to reply without hiding, Geoff

I wasn't fat when I was teaching. Too busy running around with the kids.

I did not see that post and if it was off topic you have a point. However, what he wrote is some fact and some opinion. As far as obese teachers, well there are obese teachers in every industry and field.

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