May 22, 2008

No Faceless Throwers of Rotten Tomatoes

Monique Chartier

Will Ricci at Ocean State Republican points out that House leadership wisely sent back to committee H7767, which would have enabled political pamphlet anonymity.

“Disclosure,” when it comes to politics, is a very good thing. Sunlight is a great disinfectant — we need more; not less. If you allow people to make what are in effect anonymous, unlimited campaign contributions in order to support or oppose candidates, you are effectively neutering the need for any campaign finance laws.

We’re not simply talking about one person communicating with another. We’re talking about unions, myriad special interest groups, and perhaps even corporations directly influencing elections — anonymously. Anyone with enough money could cause as much mischief as they could afford without fear of repercussion.

"Without fear of repercussion". Specifically, prosecution of the inevitable, wildly libelous accusations would be rendered nearly impossible

And in the absence of such a dampening force, would that not in turn lead to a sharp degeneration of the atmosphere of a campaign? This strikes me as a depth that is unnecessary and undesireable to plumb inasmuch as the atmosphere can turn quite nasty even with disclosure laws in place.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

Thanks for noticing. If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, I'm sure we'd have a very warm superhighway here. They never fully think things through, and then when the stuff hits the fan, the first thing they'll do is to try to blame someone else for their actions.

I'd hope you'll also note my closing comment. I certainly think they did the right thing, but most likely, not for the right reason (since when has that ever occurred?!). I'm quite sure it was pure self-interest. To quote myself:

"Perhaps the House leadership came to the realization that they might be the primary targets of potential anonymous pamphleteers this election season?"

Posted by: Will at May 22, 2008 10:25 PM

Hmmmm - does this mean that all those anonymous bloggers here and on RI Future will have to reveal themselves? Could lead to more civility . . .

Posted by: Bob Walsh at May 23, 2008 1:29 AM


Grow up. Your ten year old-style hit-and-runs are more suited to your thug number two.

I'd be happy to post with my real name all day every day. Can you personally guarantee I won't have to deal with Duck Boy picketing my workplace, my house, my places of recreation in retaliation for my calling a spade a spade? Can you personally guarantee that one of your thugs won't slash my tires, intimidate my family, or begin failing my children?

Posted by: Greg at May 23, 2008 9:43 AM

>>No person shall publish or cause to be published in any newspaper or other periodical,<<

Does or count as a "periodical"? If it does, and that bill passed, all these political blogs and web sites that allow anonymous comments to be dead.

Posted by: End of Blogs? at May 23, 2008 1:07 PM

Anonmyity on the Net is not such a bad thing, given the threats of physical violence I've seen made on local political sites. We sometimes forget that posters have families.
And the irrational anger I see expressed in some posts makes me thankful the poster was not within small arms range of the target. We don;t need a repeat of what happened in Cranston last Sunday.

Posted by: rhody at May 23, 2008 9:57 PM

THAT was intelligent and reasonable and I agree.

And I was a little harsh the other day and I apologize.

Posted by: Greg at May 23, 2008 10:27 PM

But for ANONYMOUS pamphlets (and postings), our great country may never have been founded.

Bob Walsh and others complaining of such matters should step off their high-horse and study their history.

There is NOTHING wrong with posting comments on websites using fictitious names. It is in keeping with the very traditions of our founding fathers. Benjamin Franklin (an original signer of both our Deceleration of Independence and our Constitution, among other things), used numerous aliases and pseudonyms during his lifetime when writing letters-to-the-editor and writing books. For example, he wrote numerous letters-to-the-editor in his brother James’ newspaper, the New England Courant, under the anonymous name of ‘Silas Dogood’ (his brother was unaware).

Another example is Poor Richard’s Almanac which he wrote using the fictitious name ‘Richard Saunders’. Perhaps you’ve heard of this collection of books. Another excellent example is the Federalist Papers that were written (presumably by a couple of slouches named Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay) and signed using the fictitious (i.e. ANONYMOUS) name ‘Publius’. All 85 of the Federalist Papers were published in New York newspapers. Had these “sunshine” laws been in place, these critical opinion papers would not have been published.

There are lots of reasons why people don’t use their real name. By using a fictitious name, readers are forced to focus on the ideas & arguments put forth, as opposed to dwelling on who the source of the ideas were and ascribing motives & “agendas” to the ideas & opinions.

The other obvious reason is fear of retribution from public officials who have power. In Bob Walsh’s case, people appropriately fear that their Children will be retaliated against by Union-hack teachers via bad grades, “work to rule” tactics, bad or no college recommendations, etc.

Both of these reasons, I am sure, are consistent with the reasons that Ben Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Jay and others used fictitious names & anonymity.

Posted by: George Elbow at May 24, 2008 8:51 AM
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