I have to say I’m deeply disappointed to read the The Forecaster is even considering the publication of anonymous letters in its print editions (“Editor’s Notebook,” Dec. 8-10). To my mind, the flood of uninformed, scurrilous, often illiterate garbage on media websites is an increasingly negative influence on American political and social discourse.
Professor Bill Reader, claims that anonymous letters empower “the voiceless.” To which I’d respond that Professor Reader ought to read some of the stuff he feels is so meritorious. Whistle-blowers? Not one in a carload. As for the others, he has no way of knowing anything about people who hide behind “OlBuddy” or “USVet” or “KillEmAll” in their e-mails.
Well, no, I take that back: The authors of this trash can be pretty confidently identified as mean, often crazy, cowards. Maybe it’s better for the country that they disfigure websites instead of spray-painting obscenities on other people’s walls.
Of course, there is an advantage to the media in running this kind of emission: The lunatics who write this stuff draw a host of equally demented responders, and it certainly boosts the number of hits the ad salespeople can boast about.
Let me offer a modest counter-proposal: How about having responsible media require that people who want space in their letters and e-mail columns have their true names and home phone numbers printed? Doing so would certainly lower the total number of people submitting their opinions, but I firmly believe it would raise the level of public discourse geometrically.
Wolcott Gibbs Jr.