Friday, March 14, 2008

Mummy, He's Picking on Me

You can imagine my shock today when I read that a Kentucky lawmaker, Tim Couch, wants to pass a law that makes anonymous commenting illegal. Apparently, he has become rather concerned about the increase in "online bullying" around the Eastern Kentucky area. Turns out that there's a real risk that someone's feeling might be hurt if this keeps going on. So in order to deter would-be offenders, Couch is suggesting that for the first instance of anonymous commenting, the blog owner will be fined $500. Subsequent breaches will cost $1,000. Of course, the lawyer in me wonders what would happen if the offender decided to prolong the matter through extensive use of the judicial process? I'd say that the cost of prosecution would probably not warrant initiating proceedings in the first place. Not that I'd suggest that anyone should do that.

I mean honestly, cry me a river. It's not as though someone is forced to write a blog, make comments or read the content. If you're precious enough, you can turn anonymous comments off or allow only certain people to access your blog. And if you're really insecure, you can delete comments or even screen them before they appear on your blog. I tell you, it's amazing what kind of new technology we have around these days.

While we are on the subject, what is it that motivates an individual to delete a comment in the first place? I must confess I've never got a clear answer to that question. Of course, I recognise all too well that not all blog posts are constructive, but if someone writes something that is annoying, then it's them that will look stupid, not yourself. And the wonderful thing about being the blog owner is that you always have the right of reply and any person worth their salt will see how silly the original comment was. Of course, if you delete blog comments because you find them to be inconvenient (i.e. they expose your ignorance on a subject) and your readers recognise this, this strategy is going to backfire on you fairly quickly. For this reason, I've never had to delete a comment in the twelve months I've been blogging and do not plan to unless I am faced with a post that could have legal consequences.

I must admit that I enjoy reading alternative points of view because they help me to look at things from a different perspective and thus help to refine my own point of view. But then again, I've always someone who has thirsted after truth. I guess someone can write their blog purely as an exercise in propaganda, promoting what they believe to be the truth while closing their eyes and ears to other points of view, but how strong is one's position if they can't even defend what they believe from criticism? Quite frankly, if you find yourself adopting a position that can't stand up to the most gentle of analysis, perhaps you should rethink your position. Or perhaps you should think of leaving the blogosphere altogether, because the blogosphere can be a rough environment and is no place for your insecurities and cowardice.

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