Anonymous Commenting

Randall Freeman and Chuck Reutter, are two people who wrote to The Californian discussing anonymous commenting on websites, and I'm sure...

Randall Freeman and Chuck Reutter, are two people who wrote to The Californian discussing anonymous commenting on websites, and I'm sure they're talking about Menifee 24/7.

Here's what was said...

(Randall Freeman, Aug 23) - My first experience in seeking to serve my community by running as a candidate for my local school board has produced somewhat unexpected consequences. As part of my efforts to inform the local community of my desire and qualifications for serving on the school board, I submitted a candidate's statement on local Web sites. When I checked in on my statement this afternoon, I was pleased to observe that there were several comments posted in response to it. Pleased that is, until I read them.

The vile and offensive diatribes were blatant and disturbing to me. Simply by virtue of stating my profession of being an elementary school teacher, I was vilified by several anonymous cowards. Statements included, "You and your ilk will be happy to bleed the public dry to support your hidden agenda. People like you sicken me ..." and "You have all let the parents and children down ... for your personal wealth and ambitions. I agree with the previous comments, we need parent representation, and you do not fit the bill."

Statements like these make me wonder why anybody would wish to serve in any public capacity. Will I have to be concerned for the safety of myself and family simply because I desire to serve my community and just happen to be a teacher? I have to wonder.

(Chuck Reutter, Aug 27) - I hope all these negative comments Mr. Randall T. Freeman wrote about in his Aug. 23 letter to The Californian will not keep him from seeking election to the Menifee Union School District, and I would not pay any attention to the cowards who do not give their name when making a comment. In addition, the Webmaster of the site to which Mr. Freeman is referring does not have the courage to publish his name either.

I strongly suggest we all ignore those who do not have the courage to give their name because I think it is not the American way.
To address Chuck's assertion that the owner of the website doesn't give his name, is wrong. I have my first and last name on the website, at the far-left, as being the publisher of this website. I also describe who I am on the "About Us" page, which is linked from the same location.

For the record, here is the article Randall Freeman is referring to...

While there certainly are some very critical comments there, there are others that are more constructive, and others yet that defend him. But every comment on there reflects the true feelings and sentiment that exist in the community. Those sentiments are of real voters who will be marking ballots this November. What Freeman got from his candidate statement on Menifee 24/7 is a look at what he needs to address if he wants to win a seat on the school board.

Moreover, anyone who seeks to gain public office must be vetted by every voter in public. Vetting also includes examining how that candidate handles criticism, and this is perhaps a test for Freeman.

I would certainly love for everyone to disclose their names when commenting. But, my goal is to build discussion, not to discourage it. Aside from the articles I publish here, the ensuing discussion is also a big reason why people come back here to read. The community dialogue is a major part of what makes Menifee 24/7 what it is.

Also, if I forced people to provide their name, all they'd do is make up a pseudonym to get around it, and they'd still be anonymous.

I don't think Freeman needs to worry for his personal safety. Menifee is still the same community, with or without Menifee 24/7. Had he never submitted a candidate statement to me, would he have believed the community was more friendly to him?