Monday March 10, 2014
Op Ed by Henry Ruark for Salem-News.com
(BEND, Ore.) - Anonymity fears responsibility and flees into obscurity, by definition: a-non-y-mous adj.: 1. Nameless or unnamed; 2. not known or lacking marked individuality.
Where is anonymity more prevalent than on the Internet? Incredibly, the online community of ethics has not yet found common ground where credibility is concerned.
First Amendment rights have nothing to do with the subject at hand, this is simply a case of those who would take advantage of a free-thinking system by sparring with those seeking true information, while hiding behind a dark cloak of anonymity.
For sure, an open name with full background available adds not only “individuality” but also full responsibility for statements given, both legally and ethically, now more-demanded than ever before.
If anyone seeks out and puts to work that very extraordinary cover and concealment granted by anonymity, given the ease and ultimate acceptance of ordinary dialog in this modern day, there must be a major compelling reason: Something other than convenience since an ordinary name takes no more effort to state than a nom de Internet --but means exceedingly more-- since it represents that person’s direct acceptance of the full democratic responsibility which is “at the heart of the matter” here.
To retreat from simply stating true name is to seek to escape the inevitable “ready-reckoning”: dialog by others with equally-full right to speak AND be read-here, however, they are willing to sign-and-thus support what they state publicly.
Since they have signed--and thus obviously claim responsibility of statement--the content is much more credible and well received by all.
Internet activities and ease of application only emphasize and multiply this necessity for knowing the source and making solid independent judgments on content-worth and credibility.
Approach can-and-does immediately reflect on what ANY one intends in ANY message: To share information OR to persuade, shape, perhaps even to manipulate the message-situation.
“Anon” signals evasion for whatever reason. Motivation(s) unknown.
The Internet receiver is essentially and dangerously vulnerable to those who seek malign impacts and influence in this sensitive-channel situation.
There are those now joyfully distorting and even perverting what they state on the ‘Net --sometimes for commercial or private-pocket gain as well as for perverse political advantage. They seek to capture the careless, conquer the weaker-minded, and convert all they can reach; often simply to cause whatever damage they can, by the same forces furnishing lavish “campaign contributions”.
Persuasion can be open and strengthening for democratic dialog OR otherwise on occasion. Malign intent is often hidden behind irresponsible anonymity; it is a sure warning sign of something other than willingness for open, rational, reasonable responsibility for what is openly declared- when declared by "anonymous".
If you wish to be believed and persuasive, these days, you must put yourself right on the line with full declaration of from whence you cometh with whatever you propose and advocate.
That’s why daily-newspaper Editorials are signed and seen as solid position-statements. That’s why, until recently, the most-used and usually most-praised elements in shaping ongoing public opinion, both locally and nationally, have been those daily Editorials.
They remain credible since the creators have become well-known and their bona fides --or their base of values for judgment-- established through past “reading” experience.
Few readers are so naive as to accept “unknown-source” written materials as fact when they surely would-- immediately and with vehemence--refuse “masked” statement or concealment during verbal conversation. They expect to know who is saying what. No rational person will receive and reiterate a point or belief or even most information when the source is in doubt for veracity and reasonable application.
Still, there are those with questionable motivations who seek diligently and desperately for any thought-control methodology, any pertinent persuasive method and mechanisms for delivery that can be generated.
That is an ever-present danger on Internet open channels currently, as “anonymous” online campaigns are very conceivably being created with funding and whose underhanded message is cast via any and all possible means and methods.
Some of the same funding sources known to be operating as “campaign contributions” are seen to be at work for their own private purposes --right out there on the Internet, via widening surveillance and subtle opposition by interjection of content when allowed.
Solid experience with deeply dollar-successful advertising operations have proven that “it can be done” --and it is now happening; not for the first time, but with more pressures and more heavy-source funding than ever before.
Almost everyone in close working contacts these days with Internet-open channels can relate one or several such disturbing online experiences.
An open-attack on political and social issues is a matter for such operations.
So is the growing information-exchange on positive public postures for long-debated issues of public concern, much more widely-reported since Internet operations began.
Political and malign social impacts, such as protection at Supreme Court level of huge ongoing consequences of allowing the right of political speech to corporate interests via corporate campaign contributions, is also reportedly one such extreme issue.
Still another --with many involved and difficult religious overtones making democratic decision extremely difficult--is abortion; an issue that often crowds Internet channels with heart-wrenching methodology and overwhelming distribution of malign content from every angle.
To that intriguing mix, one must add all the burgeoning blogs, designed for deeply-felt personal feelings --but surely not for the interchange of most acceptable and testable information OR opinion.
For open-channel dialog discussing major issues and situations --seeking Comment for considerable group-gain via those inevitably unforeseen additions always coming from “the common people”--invasion by others seeking to impose their own views-and-values becomes a vulnerable situation.
For those participating in our open opportunities for dialog and discussion here, I suggest that you visit a mirror, seeking from your inner person any reasons for being “anon” here.
IF you have “nothing to sell” except your personal opinion, built on life experience, to share for what values it may impart on touchy issues for others: Welcome here, always and with open arms and room for all your words, too.
IF you seek to shape and impact what we do here otherwise- think twice, and then a third time: You will find it increasingly difficult to perpetrate your patent invasion of our channels for your own perverse purposes; AND you will face sharp, extremely vigorous oversight by our own best-possible protectors: Those others seeking solid sharing situations to bolster and build fuller illumination on their own views via that sharing for which democratic dialog has become world-famous.
Open-name ID can never hurt you here.
Evidence is overwhelming to that effect locally and nationally, with only rumor and intentional distortion of circumstance cited otherwise.
There are no “thought police” operations underway on our content or channels.
No Big Brother will descend on you via direction obtained from your Amelia to the Editor.
Those are unrealistic rumors intentionally conflicting with the realities of opportunities opened to you via the S-N channels.
Should you share essential-information with our Editor, via your e-mail address, your privacy is always fully protected here.
What your open use of name does do is place you purposely and with full strength directly into that responsible position as the speaker for anything and everything you share here.
For any open-minded, positively-inclined honest citizen of our esteemed Republic, that must surely be “right where I want to be” -- with all equally open-minded and positively-inclined fair-play Americans.
That’s what one seeks here --unless one has something furtive, fearful and so selfishly-shaped it deserves group dismay.