Merits of public commenting reviewed

What's in a name?

There is a mean-spiritedness that comes from anonymity.

If they can hide their identity, people will say the most vile and inappropriate things.

Expressions, personal attacks and even words that someone would never allow to pass their lips flow freely from their fingertips when they sit behind a computer screen cloaked by a fictitious screen name.

In similar fashion, people will write unsigned letters and send them to the newspaper taking bold positions, lashing out at public officials and spewing venomous speech, but they would not dare take ownership of their own thoughts and words.

Historically, newspapers have done the right thing and simply discarded those unsigned letters, discounting anything that someone was not willing to put their name to.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right of free speech for all citizens.

However, citizens have names — real names — first and last names, not just screen names.

Free speech should not be confused with vile hate-speech.

Technology and social trends should not lead to newspapers, with historically high ethical standards regarding what is published, compromising those ethics.

Anything worth saying, is worth putting your name to.

Anything worth writing, is worth signing.

Blind commenting on websites, or unsigned letters to the editor, are at the very least, cowardly and lack credibility.

We celebrate the First Amendment.

We encourage public dialogue.

We embrace the open debate of public issues.

We wholeheartedly believe both the media and citizens should keep a watchful eye on public officials and comment about their actions.

We depend on the Freedom of Speech.

We may disagree with someone’s opinion or expressions, but we will defend with all our might their right to hold the opinion and to openly express it.

A free society depends on free speech.

Perhaps citizens do not like something going on in their city, or they have a problem with some action of the county commission or the board of education.

All citizens should believe they have recourse.

The First Amendment guarantees they can petition the government.

The First Amendment guarantees they can protest or assemble.

They First Amendment guarantees they can speak out.

One way they can speak out is by writing a letter to the editor.

We will publish it, providing it is not libelous or vile and that it is signed.

That is the right thing — the ethical thing — to do.

We also encourage people who opt instead to comment on public policy on our website, social media or any other forum to use a name — a real name.