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Believe it? Then put your name on it

While the Internet has taken anonymous letters and gossip to a whole new level, there are plenty of folks in the world who still prefer to send their anonymous letters the old-fashioned way -- via the U.S. post office.

While the Internet has taken anonymous letters and gossip to a whole new level, there are plenty of folks in the world who still prefer to send their anonymous letters the old-fashioned way -- via the U.S. post office.

City Planner Al Cottingham got such a letter this week regarding the possible banquet hall proposed by B&B Market owners Kim and John Lind.

The letter writer asked some valid questions and raised a number of concerns. It wasn't a nasty letter, although the writer did express some worry that the proposed hall might not be properly cared for.

Why not sign your name?

"The frustration is, you can't respond to them when they don't tell you who they are," Cottingham said. "When people come to a meeting to speak, they give their names."

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When available, they also get answers -- for their efforts -- right there on the spot.

In spite of its anonymity, Cottingham said he will include a copy of the letter in the public record and include it in the council packet.

That would not happen here at the Pine Journal. If you don't include a name -- a full name, not a first initial and a last name or any other arrangement that might leave your identity in doubt -- as well as a contact phone number so we can call you, we won't run your letter or commentary.

There is currently a letter sitting on an empty desk in our office, because the writer didn't include a phone number, an address or a first name. So there it sits. The writer is likely fuming that we are infringing on his/her right to freedom of expression, and we have a letter we can't use.

It's certainly a letter that would spark debate, which we encourage. At the same time, however, we can't run something when we can't confirm the writer. A last name (this was a common name) and initial isn't enough.

No matter what the forum, people who want to voice controversial opinions should stand behind them, not create cute Internet nicknames that hide their identity or simply send anonymously and expect some kind of action.

I guess that's why we sign our editorials.

~ Jana Peterson

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