Anonymous comments are annoying

Published 10:43 am Saturday, April 17, 2010

I’ve said here before how much I hate internet sites that allow you to sign up and anonymously comment on stories.

The anonymity allowed by websites, including ours, lets people have the opportunity to say things without revealing their name. Many times the comments they make would never appear if they had to be identified.

I believe our national discourse has already become nasty enough without allowing those who want to spew their messages of hate to do so without having to be called for them.

It has long been a point of frustration for me.

I bring this up again because of something I read on a website (not ours) earlier this week. A person commenting about a story on missing Williamston man Quentin Andrews called Bertie County Sheriff John Holley racist. The comment went so far as to say if Andrews were white, the search would have been different.

Moments later someone wisely took the opportunity to let the commenter know that Sheriff Holley is himself a black man and questioned why someone would play the race card in such an incident.

It is this exact type of nonsense that makes my skin crawl. It’s ridiculous to lightly throw around labels such as racist anyway, but it is even more dangerous when you obviously have no idea what you’re talking about.

We have been bombarded by much of this type of comment on our own website too.

One story about an arrest made by the Ahoskie Police Department said it was obvious this is an election year.

While it is an election year, I cannot figure out what possible connection the Ahoskie Police Department would have with an election. First of all, it’s not a municipal election year and secondly, Ahoskie Police Chief Troy Fitzhugh is appointed by the town council, not elected.

Even if you went so far as to link the APD with the Hertford County Sheriff’s Office in some way, Hertford County Sheriff Juan Vaughan is unopposed in his bid for reelection.

The lunacy is stunning.

We all have outlandish opinions. I’m sure I have some that if I actually took time to write here, would stand people’s heads on end. I’m sure most everyone else has some that would fit that category as well.

Those opinions are okay. They can even be mean and wrong, but that’s why we keep them to ourselves or confined to a discussion among friends.

To keep our discourse civil, we have to be accountable for what we say and the manner in which we say it. That is why I don’t like websites that allow anonymity for those who don’t know how to be civil. It allows those people to take pot shots at those who are not able to answer because the person making the original post is anonymous.

Many elected officials work diligently every day to keep the public trust. Some even risk their lives on a daily basis. Those people deserve better than an anonymous person committing character assassination.

If you want to comment on stories on our site or others, I encourage it. I think you have that right. I also encourage you to be like others – including Bertie Board of Education member Pamela Chamblee – who sign their names to what they have to say.

I do it every week.

Thadd White is Staff Writer and Sports Editor of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. He can be reached via email at or by telephone at 332-7211.