Have courage of your convictions

Published 11:05 am Thursday, March 12, 2009

When you sign up to be a registered member of our website (www.roanoke-chowannewsherald.com) we let you sign up and “create” your own username. Instead of having to use your own name, you can create any name that will suit you and comment using that name. I’m opposed to this. I’m opposed to it on any site in which comment is allowed about things that are written by people whose real name appears on the piece.

Every week (or just about) I write an opinion piece that is placed here on the Editorial and Opinion page or in the sports section with my name, my photo and a way to contact me. I don’t shirk from what I write anyway, but I couldn’t even if I wanted to because all of my information is right here.

What galls me is that people will go on the internet, create a false name and then use that protection to assassinate someone’s character, attack their employer or just basically be a jerk.

We didn’t add comments for stories for that reason and I don’t believe most other websites did either. It was done so people could express their thoughts about a story or about what is going on in the region.

Some people, however, take advantage of what is provided as a service and use it for their own personal missions. They don’t like someone, something or some organization and they use their anonymity to attack.

From time to time we place on the right hand side of this space the comments left by our readers on stories, columns, editorials and the like. This is done so people who may not have access to the internet can see what others are saying.

Unfortunately, sometimes we can’t use those comments because they are not fit to be printed in a newspaper that is distributed into the homes of good folks. Sometimes they are sardonic, hateful and even use language that isn’t appropriate.

I don’t always read the comments posted on our website just like I don’t on many sites similar to this. I can’t stand to read someone who doesn’t have the guts to put their name to what they have to say show off for people on the internet that don’t care who they are or what they think.

Now, don’t get me wrong. We have some people who have made smart, insightful comments on stories. They have given us ideas about the way we can approach stories in the future and they have provided our readers with alternatives if they are faced with situations talked about in our newspaper and on our website.

I appreciate the people who do that, but many, many times the folks who do that sign their real name even if they have an alias they use on our site. These are people who want the best for our community. These are people who want the best for other people.

People have a right to their opinion and as a stalwart of the First Amendment; I certainly believe they have the right to express that opinion. Just have the courage of your convictions.

By the way, my username on our site is thaddwhite.

Thadd White is Staff Writer and Sports Editor of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. He can be reached via email at thadd.white@r-cnews.com or via telephone at 332-7211.