This Just In ...

Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.

Time to go after the anonymous on the blogosphere

It is well documented that I am not a fan of people who comment anonymously on the Internet. In October 2007, I quoted from a column by Dennis Prager entitled, “Internet anonymity is as destructive as Internet porn”:

“There is something at least as awful -- and arguably more destructive -- that permeates the Internet: the lies, vitriol, obscenities and ad hominem attacks made by anonymous individuals on almost every website that deals with public issues.

Being identifiable breeds responsibility; anonymity breeds irresponsibility.

Anonymity only enables people to more freely express their feelings. Anonymity values feelings over thought, and immediate expression over thoughtful reflection.

There is not one good reason for any website, left or right, or non-political, to allow people to avoid identifying themselves. Anyone interested in serious political discourse, or in merely lowering the hate levels in our country, should welcome the banning of anonymous postings.”

Writers using false identities have plagued the NOW blogosphere, including this web site.  I’ve written a lot about how wrong and dangerous this practice can be.

Anonymous bloggers and commenters are all cowards. Even those with the best intentions are, to some degree, cowardly by the very fact they refuse to identity themselves. I would include anyone who poses as someone else, making up a phony name or identity.

In Indiana, some cowards were finally taken to task by their victims. A judge ruled in the victims’ favor and ordered a large newspaper to hand over information about the source of defamatory, anonymous comments.

Good for the judge. Good for the victims who cried enough is enough.

The trend is that more lawsuits are being filed by the defamed. Judges are reluctant to side with victims, citing freedom of speech. News outlets like the Indianapolis Star absurdly believe that “
the popular, free-wheeling public comment boards that news outlets run” are “part of their legitimate news-gathering efforts.” How low have journalistic standards plummeted that anyone with a keyboard can make up anything they want, submit anonymously for all the world to see on a daily newspaper’s website, and it more than passes the smell test according to the paper’s brass.

These editors ought to be ashamed of themselves.

What travesty will it take before supposed journalistic websites develop standards that will once and for all prevent the despicable damage caused by anonymous cowards?

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