Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Dear anonymous commenter

I get a steady stream of blog comments, almost all of them anonymous.  Some are biased political or personal diatribes.  Some are interesting issues based comments.  I do not publish any of them.  If you want me to share your comment, share your full name.

I put myself out there in public and as an elected official I should but the blogging is not obligatory, just something I want to do.  If I put my views out in public through my blog, why can't blog commenters do the same?

I appreciate the feedback at council meeting public comment periods and during door to door election campaigning.  I find people in these face to face encounters behave more civilly and generally want to advance the conversation.  The blogosphere seems to have galvanized one category of people to make rude and cowardly attacks. 

I have been wondering: what are these people afraid of?  I believe that some of them know they will embarrass themselves by disclosing their identity.  They know their comments are not defensible. 

Some people are "letting off steam".  All elected officials deal with this in face to face encounters.  At least then, an attempt at dialogue can be made.  Listening to constituent frustrations can lead to constructive actions. 

One group is the anonymous commenters who are issues based who work for local government.  Some of these commenters clearly have inside information that cries out for action.  But there is a limit to what can be done with their information unless they come forward.  I hope they are using the resources available to them including employee protections under the law (whistle blower laws, etc) and their labor unions.

Unfortunately, many anonymous blog commenters are merely trying to stir the pot.   I don't expect them to be persuaded to change their behavior.  As long as my fellow Plainfield bloggers continue to give them an outlet, cowardly and rude behavior will be part of our local public discourse.  But not on my blog.  And no unsupported or personal attacks on my allies and adversaries.

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