by KLAUS SNYDER
You know who I am, and, according to Professor John Hatcher of the University of Minnesota Duluth, that means you should be better able to trust what I tell you on an internet forum. I have news for you; you shouldn't.
I don't mean to imply that I am an untrustworthy person -- far from it. However, because you know who I am, and you can connect everything I write to me, I have to write defensively, so to speak.
Professor Hatcher states that by allowing anonymous posting of comments on news sites, we are allowing people to post defaming, libelous without holding them accountable. The law states that a letter published in the paper isn't just the responsibility of the writer, but of the paper publishing it. Why shouldn't internet comments be held up to such scrutiny?
Hatcher also states that knowing who someone is allows you to judge the credibility of a comment. It also allows you to judge whether or not you wish you invest your time into reading something someone wrote.However, it would appear that Hatcher is confusing comments with articles.
The article is the focus of the comments. Do I want to know who wrote an article? Of course, because that is the source of information; the comments are not. They are, as most people know, simply opinions.
If and when I read the comments associated with an article, it is because I am looking for the opinions of people, not further information - if I wanted that, I would look for more articles. Comments are a way of judging the views of the people, and perhaps debating points made in the article.
If we forced these people to attach their names to their opinions, would it greatly reduce offensive, hateful and ignorant comments? Yes, but we would also lose the knowledge of how people are reacting to the issue an article is discussing.
While we made not like what we find out about our fellow humans, anonymous posting on the internet is just like hearing someone at a bus stop say something racist. You may be offended by the ignorant things you are hearing, and some people may actually take what that person says to heart; however, would you walk up to that anonymous bus-stop bigot and demand to know his name, for credibility's sake, or would you simply take it at one man's opinion - or "comment."