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Only gutless cowards hide behind cloak of anonymity

"Call the Tune," by Mike Anthony

People who write anonymous letters are gutless cowards.

This great nation's constitutionally guaranteed right of freedom of speech carries with it an overwhelming responsibility.

Freedom of speech doesn't give people the right to say anything about anybody or anything. We believe people have to take responsibility for what they say or write.

This newspaper takes full responsibility for the news articles it publishes. We also take responsibility for the opinion columns that appear on this page. We may occasionally publish an unsigned editorial representing the consensus of our Editorial Board, but we'll be more than happy to reveal the identity of the editorial's author if anyone asks.

What we won't do is publish anonymous or unsigned letters to the editor. Anyone who has a valid criticism of someone or something or a legitimate suggestion of how things could be done better shouldn't hesitate to sign his or her name to a letter to the editor.

Why would you want to cloak yourself behind a dark cloud of anonymity if your comments, ideas, criticisms or suggestions had merit and were truly constructive?

On a fairly regular basis, this newspaper receives anonymous letters attacking one of our staffers or criticizing one of our news articles or opinion pieces.

Most of them are a real hoot. The majority of them look like they were scrawled by a third- or a fourth-grader, given the incoherent sentences, atrocious grammar and multiple misspellings. It's distressing to know that the letters are the work of someone much older, but we certainly understand why someone would not want to take responsibility for a letter that borders on illiteracy.

Other anonymous letters we receive contain obscene suggestions, foul language and racial epithets for which no decent person would want to take responsibility. But people who write anonymous letters can't be decent people.

As we said earlier, people who write anonymous letters are gutless cowards who must not feel very good about themselves. Instead, they seem determined to drag people and things down to their level — the gutter — perhaps with half-truths or even outright falsehoods.

Perhaps the late Hosea Ballou, a clergyman, said it best: "Falsehood is cowardice — truth is courage.''

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