The Cloak of Anonymity

Athens was all astir last weekend about a bunch of random shootings on my end of  town. Several moving vehicles had windows shot out. A jogger and an eleven-year old girl were hit, too. The weapon: a high-powered BB gun.

The incidents got front-page coverage in the local newspaper two days in a row. I’m guessing the story will appear on tomorrow’s front page, too. Today the police caught the thugs responsible for the shootings. You can read the full story here.

Yes, I hope these two little boys get what’s coming to them. I also hope the consequences of their actions are severe enough that this will be their last run-in with the law. I’m doubtful, but hope springs eternal.

Even more upsetting than the random shootings these boys are alleged to have committed are the nasty comments posted to the story. Many include veiled and not-so-veiled threats. The article included the names of the streets where the boys live. To help any aspiring vigilantes, one commenter was nice enough to provide the exact street addresses. Like the families haven’t suffered enough, now they’re going to have to deal with drive-by harassment and no telling what kind of vandalism.

Since I get the paper delivered to my home every day, I rarely go to the web page. The last time was a few weeks ago to read about another arrest–this one a college student who engaged in some unruly behavior downtown after drinking too much. Again, the commenters filled in information that was not included in the news story, including the name of the accused and photographs of him. Several of the commenters said horrible things about the boy’s parents, who I happen to know. They’re good people who don’t deserve the unkind things that were said about them.

Several of the blogs I follow allow anonymous comments. They are always the nastiest, most hate-filled comments I see. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think these people would say the things they post anonymously if people know who they were. If you ask me, these anonymous posters are cowards. If you can’t stand behind your opinions, then shut the hell up.

My real name is associated with this blog and my Twitter account. When I post on other blogs, my name and picture appear with my comments. I used to worry about stalkers, but so far, that hasn’t been an issue. Frankly, I’m just not that important.

You’ll never see anonymous comments on my blogs. I delete them. I do allow pseudonyms, but only because WordPress gives me the ability to send the commenter an e-mail message if I so desire. And if any of them were to post something nasty, I’d delete the comment and block them from posting more here on…

My Glass House