Reveal Yourself or forfeit your freedom of speech ? ? ?

Of course online commenters should be afforded anonymity. In all reality, I don’t understand why this is even questionable.

Journalists aren’t given any special rights by the government. For instance, police officers have the right to carry weapons; pharmacists are allowed to sell drugs, and so on. Journalists, in the eyes of the government, are regular Joe Schmoes. The one weapon that journalists do have is the power to offer their sources anonymity.

So why not offer the same to the people who comment on a writer’s online material? I must’ve missed the clause in the U.S. constitution that read that everyone has freedom of speech unless they decide to speak anonymously.

Both James Rainey and Farhad Manjoo mention in their articles that anonymous commenters tend to be more malicious with their words. Manjoo said in his article that people who know their identity is a secret, according to some studies, tend to act worse than they would if their identity was revealed.

Of all the people who fight against censorship, I find it a bit ironic that journalists would be the one’s who want to censor people.

I disagree with Manjoo’s idea. In my opinion, those anonymous commenters who say malicious things aren’t misbehaving. Instead, those people are showing their true colors and being as honest as anyone could be. I agree with Rainey and Manjoo that a lot of the words that are posted anonymously are nasty, but for me, it’s a constant reminder of how cruel the world is. This helps me cope with people.

In his article, Rainey said that “editors at the Bay Area papers feel the conversation has become more real and rational, now that most people appear under their real identities.”

I beg to differ. The conversations have become, in my opinion, more unrealistic due to the fact that the opinion of the anonymous commenter has been taken away. Instead you get a watered down and sugarcoated conversation. Yes, the conversations may have become more rational, but that depends on your definition of rational.

I am well aware of the fact that racism, sexism and all the other bad isms that still exist across the world. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Essentially what these websites are doing is censoring those anonymous commenters who write hateful remarks so that other readers don’t have to read them. That does absolutely nothing to help rid the world of all of those bad isms.

Have we really become a country that prefers to simply sweep controversy under the rug? Are we a group of people that lives in an imaginary utopia and ignores rather than solve?

The one downside to allowing anonymous commenters to post their hate is that the commenters will never have the cojones to reveal themselves.

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