Every week or two, someone will ask why we don't publish anonymous letters to the editor. My answer is, and the answer of my predecessors has been, that we want to hold people accountable for their opinions.
In this age of Internet blogging and talk radio, when people can identify themselves any way they want or not at all, it sometimes seems we're standing alone on this principle.
Usually, when a letter writer wants anonymity, it's for a fear that probably isn't justified or it's because they want to utter, but not be associated with, an extreme view.
A year back, a man called asking to leave his name off a letter that was critical of gangs. He feared retaliation. I assured him that most rational people oppose gangs, so that taking a stand against gangs wasn't really putting yourself out on a limb.
Another man asked to leave his name off a letter that was an anti-gay diatribe. He worked for a government agency and figured he would get in trouble for expressing his sentiments in print.
I said no to both requests and have no regrets. As far as I know, neither man submitted a signed letter.
Every one of the letters that appears in The Bee also appears on our Web site, modbee.com. When we have an abundance of letters on a particular subject, such as the Iraq war, we post the overflow online, too. It stretches our space.
But modbee.com also provides ways for people to post their views without using their real names. They include:
Forums. Scroll down the menu on the left side of the home page and click on Forums. You'll see a variety of choices, from movie reviews to high school sports. SpeakUp! is the index with most of the current news issues. The liveliest exchanges seem to occur on the sports forums. It gets crazy in there.
Local Issues. I'm the moderator of this forum, which currently has three topics: the Crows Landing air field, a place for community thank-yous and an all-purpose "what's on your mind." Feel free to add your thoughts anywhere.
Bee Opinions blog. Two or three times a week, I post a comment on something. Once again, readers can add comments.
Comment directly on a story, editorial or letter. Just click on the comment link with each item.
If you have an idea for a forum or a blog topic, let me know. And realize that you can post it under any name you like, or no name at all.
And keep the letters coming to the paper, too. I think many people give added weight to opinions from people who are willing to attach their names to them. I sure do.
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