Ron Rosenbaum, Writer

February 7, 2010

A "Driver's License" For Anonymous Cowards?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 9:00 am

I don’t think it’s a good idea, at least in the way it’s been proposed here by Microsoft’s chief research and technology officer Craig Mundie.

But he’s addressing a genuine problem that I have made a recurrent cause on this blog: the poisoning of (small d) democratic discourse by anonymous abusive cowards who spew venom and then scurry behind a screen name to hide from responsibility for their words. It’s a factor in both liberal and conservative blog comment sections, although I thought conservatives were the ones in favor of “personal responsibility,” so you wouldn’t find them hiding from accountability and transparency.  You would think they would be the ones who would be in favor of taking responsibility for their words. Sadly this has not proved to be the case.

It’s a problem I’ve addressed in an essay in the forthcoming anthology New Threats to Freedom edited by Adam Bellow. It’s due out in May, according to Amazon.com.

Mundie suggests the solution for the problems caused by internet anonymity/irresponsibility should be, as the New York Times blogger in the link above put it:

…authentication. He [Mundie] draws an analogy to automobile use. If you want to drive a car, you have to have a license (not to mention an inspection, insurance, etc.). If you do something bad with that car, like break a law, there is the chance that you will lose your license and be prevented from driving in the future. In other words, there is a legal and social process for imposing discipline. Mundie imagines three tiers of Internet I.D.: one for people, one for machines and one for programs (which often act as proxies for the other two).

As I said that’s a bad idea, way too extreme. But I’m glad to see that I’m not alone in seeing that there is a problem to be addressed. But I don’t think government should be involved. As I suggest in my forthcoming essay, instead of government regulation, anonymous abusive cowards — who basically occupy the same degraded social and moral status as anonymous obscene phone-call abusers did in the past — shouldn’t be locked up but rather should be discouraged by private sector means — by shaming them for their cowardice.

As one writer on this issue suggested, every time you see an anonymous abusive screen name comment you should imagine the words “I am a contemptible coward” appended to the coward’s comment.

I wonder how many contemptible cowards will come forward to identify themselves as such in response to this.

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49 Comments »

  1. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of hackers in Russia, Nigeria and Eastern Europe are hacking into your financial records (the big banks don’t care, very lax) and tens of thousands of other hackers paid by the Chinese and Iranian governments are stalking, arresting and killing people via the Internet. Let us focus on the real cyberproblems, OK?

    Comment by charlie finch — February 7, 2010 @ 12:19 pm | Reply

  2. Since when have “Driver’s Licenses” kept people from being total a-holes on the road? HA! IF ONLY! 😆

    Comment by Delia — February 7, 2010 @ 12:40 pm | Reply

  3. Just what are you considering “anonymous” commenting? Anyone can use “anyone’s” name here, with few consequences, so if someone comments with another person’s name it’s very hard to catch them. Further, if I choose to use my real, full name (David William Nicholas) there’s the issue of there being (according to HowManyofMe.com) 133 other people in the United States calling themselves David Nicholas, most without a middle name. How are you supposed to know which one is commenting on this website, or any particular article? It’s probably not the research scientist in Britain, and I doubt it’s the gay prostitute (imagine my consternation and surprise at that one!) but it might be the commercial photographer from Philly or the Professor Emeritus of history from Clemson. The fact of the matter is that there are 308 million people in this country, and that fact by itself lends a measure of anonymity to all but the celebrities.

    Oh, in actual fact I’m none of the above. I live in California, and my presence on the internet is mostly through a long list of reviews on Amazon.com.

    Comment by DavidN — February 7, 2010 @ 1:56 pm | Reply

  4. I’ll just make one note.

    Mr Rosenbaum screams and screams about this issue. He’s now elevated it to “contemptible coward” and “obscene phone-call[ers]” who “occupy the same degraded social and moral status”.

    And at least he has the grace to say the government should not be the one to regulate this and he points to private sector means.

    By all means, someone running their website has the right to determine their own authentication system.

    For example, blogspot has several tools to provide ways to limit who can post.

    And this raises the question. For all of Mr. Rosenbaum heat, why doesn’t he do that on his site?

    As he’s clearly unhappy with the commenting system here, and he wants private means to change the status quo, well… why doesn’t he?

    Mr. Rosenbaum could contact the tech support for Pajamas. He could move to a site where he has the controls he desires. If such a plan is in progress he could at least mention it.

    Mr. Rosenbaum if you believe in the need for such private monitoring, why don’t you do it?

    As for your ending line Mr. Rosenbaum, Pajamas has no authentication no protection for usernames. Anyone can say they’re John Smith. Amusing how once again, no one can meet the moral standards that you set up.

    One final thought, I enjoy how you prop up your conservative strawman (yes personal responsibility means submiting to a top down regulation). At least you didn’t say “Jesus would want you to!” or lecture us on how morally superior your parents made you.

    Comment by Jack — February 7, 2010 @ 2:29 pm | Reply

  5. Let us consider how Mr. Rosenbaum operates.

    Routinely he will find some offense, be it a conservative politician who says bad things about welfare recipients, Hitler-bearing signs at protests, incivility in townhalls, an antipathy towards the poor via healthcare, or even being insufficiently well-read..

    He will then mock conservatives for the perceived hypocrisy between his example and conservative thought (such as citing personal responsibility, moral values, culture, charity, even Jesus (which is amusing to this agnostic)).

    Finally, he will levy a challenge. This is either calling for people to post in reply to refute his challenge or to email representatives (with a CC to Mr. Rosenbaum).

    Two things immediately come out. First, he demands engagement from the very ignorant, paranoid, contemptible cowards he routinely mocks. Secondly, he sets himself up as the arbiter of effort. To prove yourself you have to submit to Mr. Rosenbaum.

    Now, let us consider Mr. Rosenbaum’s solution to anonymous commenting. It is the voluntary adoption of authentication systems by private websites. Eventually the level of adoption increases to where it is the norm to have authentication systems and those cites that do not would have “a degraded social and moral status”.

    Finally, look at the comment system Mr. Rosenbaum is posting to (and demanding replies on). It has no authentication, it has no way to secure an individual username even. And yet, this is an issue that Mr. Rosenbaum has repeatedly harped on and demanded action on.

    How come he hasn’t done anything to remedy it himself? Is he not a private blogger? And no, angry screeds don’t count. He cannot make the changes himself, he could contact Pajamas Tech about it. If Pajamas cannot give him what his morals demand then he should post elsewhere. At the very least he could say what he plans to do about this apparently critical problem.

    Mr. Rosenbaum you say that this is a problem to be solved by private means and depends on widespread adoption. Why aren’t you doing your part?

    Perhaps the Pajamas audience is more important than his values.

    Comment by Jack — February 7, 2010 @ 2:56 pm | Reply

  6. Back in the early days of A-O-hell, I mean AOL, for a while we delt with them our selves. First we, my online pals and I, would call the ‘snert’ out and try to get them to explain themselves. If they became venom spewing cowards and couldn’t keep a civil tongue in their heads, we’d then verbally slapped the snot out them till they finally gave up and left. Amazing how many came back for more and how many just changed their screen names but we usually found them out. Finally if they still misbehaved, we would just have to ignore them. Oh, yes there were cries of freedom of speech, blah blah blah, but really, doing little more than using fowl language, which usually was our main objection, isn’t speech, it’s just noise. Was ganging up on them the right thing to do? Maybe not since it could be used against someone who didnt deserve it as well but I think we were judicious about it. But of course back then it was a smaller online community and friendships formed and we defended each other which isnt something we see much of anymore. and it worked better in a chat room than on the boards. Our last recourse of ignoring them was probably the best solution since getting a reaction was what they wanted in the first place.

    Comment by sms — February 7, 2010 @ 5:25 pm | Reply

  7. There are jerks on the internet. As you say, on both sides, though with a lame cheapshot at conservatives; countershot: I thought liberals were supposed to be believers in tolerance and diversity.

    Why obsess over it? It seems unhealthy, but is consistent with your overall outlook.

    Comment by Fred the Anonymous Coward — February 7, 2010 @ 5:44 pm | Reply

  8. Once again, and I’ve made this comment before, Mr. Rosenbaum, you don’t get it.

    If you cross the Left, they will hunt you down. Witness what happened with California’s Proposition 8. If you opposed them, activists created maps to your house. If you contributed money against them, they made sure you got ran out of a job.

    Not all of us wish to be dragged into the public arena. We are private citizens. We wish to read, discuss, and make comments, without being searched out. We are a nation of citizens, not a nation of political pundits. We should be able to speak up sometimes without needing to enter the coliseum. Public discourse should not be limited strictly to those that have the bank account, or even the thick skin, to withstand orchestrated hostility.

    It may seem strange that I connect the simple act of blog commenting to something so grandiose, but I’ve been through it personally. I got harassed by strangers just because I had the temerity to write a letter to the editor in a newspaper once.

    The Left is out to raise the personal and professional costs of disagreeing with them, until all who do so are afraid to speak. If you want to see how it works in action, then witness what goes on with Canada’s Human Rights Commissions.

    Anonymity is golden.

    Comment by Canard — February 7, 2010 @ 6:22 pm | Reply

  9. @3. DavidN,

    Not to mention I.P. and identity spoofing as a means of cyber revenge. For every honest person out there, I’m sure there are quite a few more ‘unsavory’ ones ready to assume your good name only to sully it or use it in ways that could get YOU in a lot of trouble.

    Laws are only made for those who CHOOSE to follow them, not those who seek out to intentionally and maliciously break them, and there’s no place more evident that the WORLD is rife with the latter criminal element than the world-wide-internet.

    Comment by Delia — February 7, 2010 @ 8:45 pm | Reply

  10. Let us consider how Mr. Rosenbaum operates.

    Routinely he will find some offense, be it a conservative politician who says bad things about welfare recipients, Hitler-bearing signs at protests, incivility in townhalls, an antipathy towards the poor via healthcare, or even being insufficiently well-read..

    He will then mock conservatives for the perceived hypocrisy between his example and conservative thought (such as citing personal responsibility, moral values, culture, charity, even Jesus (which is amusing to this agnostic)).

    Finally, he will levy a challenge. This is either calling for people to post in reply to refute his challenge or to email representatives (with a CC to Mr. Rosenbaum).

    Two things immediately come out. First, he demands engagement from the very ignorant, paranoid, contemptible cowards he routinely mocks. Secondly, he sets himself up as the arbiter of effort. To prove yourself you have to submit to Mr. Rosenbaum.

    Now, let us consider Mr. Rosenbaum’s solution to anonymous commenting. It is the voluntary adoption of authentication systems by private websites. Eventually the level of adoption increases to where it is the norm to have authentication systems and those cites that do not would have “a degraded social and moral status”.

    Finally, look at the comment system Mr. Rosenbaum is posting to (and demanding replies on). It has no authentication, it has no way to secure an individual username even. And yet, this is an issue that Mr. Rosenbaum has repeatedly harped on and demanded action on.

    How come he hasn’t done anything to remedy it himself? Is he not a private blogger? And no, angry screeds don’t count. He cannot make the changes himself, he could contact Pajamas Tech about it. If Pajamas cannot give him what his morals demand then he should post elsewhere. At the very least he could say what he plans to do about this apparently critical problem.

    “Awaiting moderation” Heh

    Mr. Rosenbaum you say that this is a problem to be solved by private means and depends on widespread adoption. Why aren’t you doing your part?

    Perhaps the Pajamas audience is more important than his values.

    One wonders what he thinks of fellow Pajamas Xpress blogger Zombie? Does Ron think his coworkers (add Neo-Neocon too) are contemptable cowards?

    Comment by Jack — February 7, 2010 @ 8:53 pm | Reply

  11. Its always nice to see old, ignorant and stupid ppl aka ron rosenbaum. First if ron took a few minutes to read anything about the internet he would know that only about .01% of ppl who use the internet can post “anonymous”. This ignorance is typical of ron who whined about the tea party needing a plan but can’t be both to you know read theirs.

    Why ron can’t take a few minutes to at least educate himself in anything you talking about is staggering…

    Comment by robotech master — February 7, 2010 @ 10:31 pm | Reply

  12. If this is the most important “issue du jour” on which to waste this much vitriol and linguistic blather, then the world is, indeed, a safe and wonderful place. Alas, such is not the case…..

    Next, the entire concept that freedom of speech is antithetical to some argument (whatever that argument may be) simply lacks intellectual rigour. Put simply, if you don’t like forums that allow for a free-for-all, then don’t participate in them. If you seek the Gulag approach to commentary, then, by all means, create such an environment (or co-opt one already in existance) and have fun.

    To assert – and in your case, to demand, belittle, insult, and harass – that others must accept your premise is a demonstration of the paucity of your creative thinking and the depths to which you will go in order to have your way over others. Wake up, this isn’t Third Grade and, as children say so eloquently: “You’re not the boss of me!” (Or anyone else, for that matter).

    Sir, it seems to me like you want to engage in all sorts of petty name calling, ad hominem attacks, logical fallacy and other linguistic potholes without scrutiny, but wish to deny others that same right.

    We have a word for that: Hypocrite.

    Have a great day and may your words be free and unfettered by the contraints of the intellectual midgets among us.

    Comment by Faultolerant — February 8, 2010 @ 3:15 am | Reply

  13. And now gaze at how out of step Ron is with the rest of Pajamas. (Nevermind that Ron is anti-teaparty, anti-“anti-Obamacare”, and pro-Obama-Nobel)

    Ron bitterly mocks and screams at his readers where the CEO of Pajamas Media Roger L. Simon…
    http://pajamasmedia.com/rogerlsimon/2010/02/07/climategate-part-ii-help-us-follow-the-money/

    “Well, we at Pajamas Media would like to know – and we imagine you would too. And speaking of the tip of that proverbial iceberg, this is not only about Al Gore. There are plenty of high rent dots to be connected here with much pertinent information to be revealed and names to be named. I am writing this post to solicit your help. Just as the blogosphere was so instrumental in dissecting the science, it can also help track the money. If you have knowledge or expertise in this area, please contact us at webmaster@pajamasmedia.com. We will forward this on to Charles Martin – our resident guru on all matters climatic – who will collate and report back. Thanks for your help.”

    Fascinating difference.

    Now I’m certain those that contact Mr Simon though the email will have some sort of verification, but it’s amazing to contrast the attitude difference between the two.

    Mr. Simon is trying to gather expertise and researchers to continue critical investigative reporting on what may be the biggest scam of the last two decades, and is reaching out to his readers for help.

    Mr. Rosenbaum screams about anonymous posting, on a blog he can’t/won’t secure himself (while refusing to move to a blog that supports his fierce morals), while also insulting anyone and everyone that dares to contribute even in threads where he demands people prove their worth to him.

    Remember the difference. Mr. Simon values your input. Mr. Rosenbaum insults you, personally.

    Comment by Jack — February 8, 2010 @ 4:47 am | Reply

  14. And now gaze at how out of step Ron is with the rest of Pajamas. (Nevermind that Ron is anti-teaparty, anti-“anti-Obamacare”, and pro-Obama-Nobel)

    Ron bitterly mocks and screams at his readers where the CEO of Pajams Roger L. Simon…
    http://pajamasmedia.com/rogerlsimon/2010/02/07/climategate-part-ii-help-us-follow-the-money/

    “Well, we at Pajamas Media would like to know – and we imagine you would too. And speaking of the tip of that proverbial iceberg, this is not only about Al Gore. There are plenty of high rent dots to be connected here with much pertinent information to be revealed and names to be named. I am writing this post to solicit your help. Just as the blogosphere was so instrumental in dissecting the science, it can also help track the money. If you have knowledge or expertise in this area, please contact us at webmaster @ pajamasmedia.com. We will forward this on to Charles Martin – our resident guru on all matters climatic – who will collate and report back. Thanks for your help.”

    Fascinating difference.

    Now I’m certain those that contact Mr Simon though the email will have some sort of verification, but it’s amazing to contrast the attitude difference between the two.

    Mr. Simon is trying to gather expertise and researchers to continue critical investigative reporting on what may be the biggest scam of the last two decades, and is reaching out to his readers for help.

    Mr. Rosenbaum screams about anonymous posting, on a blog he can’t/won’t secure himself, while also insulting anyone and everyone that dares to contribute even in threads where he demands people prove their worth to him.

    Remember the difference. Mr. Simon values your input. Mr. Rosenbaum insults you, personally.

    Comment by Jack — February 8, 2010 @ 4:48 am | Reply

  15. The use of pen names long predates the internet. How many Christians know that the Gospels are anonymous documents and that Mattthew, Mark, Luke and John are fictitious names dreamed up by the Church?

    It seems to me, Ron, that some of your posts in the past have been deliberately provocative and aimed specifically at baiting trolls and eliciting rabid responses. The internet is a new medium and anonymity is certainly an issue but your engagement with it isn’t serious.

    Comment by David Levavi — February 8, 2010 @ 8:53 am | Reply

  16. In 1787 & 1788, Mr. Rosenbaum would have been decrying those who wrote as “Publius” as contemptible cowards.

    For those who don’t understand the reference to Publius, perhaps you need to brush up on your early American political writings.

    Comment by ConservativeWanderer — February 8, 2010 @ 6:18 pm | Reply

  17. I have been posting on Internet fora since 96 and moderating a high volume forum since 02. In my expert opinion, Ron is a Troll.

    I am new to PajamasMedia. Is he the pet Troll? (He is entertaining in a sophomoric kinda way) Otherwise, what is he doing on a Conservative site? Wouldn’t he be happier over at Huffington Post? Considering that 3 of his last 4 posts are straight up trolls, I would pull his card on my forum. I love debate, but am intolerant of Trolls.

    Comment by anonymous abusive coward — February 8, 2010 @ 6:33 pm | Reply

  18. Here’s some more contrast.

    Here’s Bill Whittle’s latest:
    http://pajamasmedia.com/ejectejecteject/2010/02/08/party-time/

    “And a final note: do you know who we owe the remarkable success of the Tea Party movement to? We owe it to Rachel Maddow, and Keith Olberman, and Chris Matthews. We owe it to Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid, and barack Obama – not just for the political motivation, but because they decided to make it personal.

    By calling us Tea Baggers, and racists, and Nazis, and rubes, and hicks… by pretending we’re just a fringe group of dangerous radicals, or saying – as the President did, twice, and apparently with a straight face – that he was unaware that tens or hundreds of thousands of hard-working American patriots were clogging the streets of the city he lives in – well all of these geniuses poured can after can of lighter fluid on to what might have been some old, wet charcoal – nearly impossible to light – and turned it into a wildfire that will likely remake the landscape of this country. That’s why there’s a Tea Party.

    So thanks, you big-brain, sneering, socialist ninnies! We couldn’t have done it without you.”

    Of course, read the whole thing.

    Sound faimilar to Mr. Rosenbaum’s past rants and accusations to the Tea Party groups?

    But contrast this and any of Mr. Whittle or Mr. Simon or Mr. Hanson or Mr. Green or Driscoll’s work to Mr. Rosenbaum.

    It’s not only the tone but the level of respect and maturity.

    Remember, Mr. Rosenbaum demands that you be civil while hurling insults at you.

    Remember, he demands that you prove your commitment to your values while he doesn’t practice what he preaches.

    And remember that despite having co-workers that disagree with him, Mr. Rosenbaum chooses to direct his ire at you the reader. He doesn’t engage or debate or challenge his coworkers on Pajamas.

    No he goes after you.

    Comment by Jack — February 8, 2010 @ 8:28 pm | Reply

  19. My consternation with anonymous posters increases in hyperbolic fashion.

    Comment by Silence Dogood — February 9, 2010 @ 8:43 am | Reply

  20. Ron, I certainly agree with you on this. And SHAME is the ticket, not government, of course. When I see anonymous hate screeds I already append the suggested words or, usually, worse.

    And Jack: You sound like the whiny kid running to tell tales which nobody will take seriously anyway. You just don’t like Ron Rosenbaum winning the spelling bee, or being picked for the team. Grow some self-awareness please. And the Bill Whittle piece you quote is pretty funny in that it is precisely the Tea Partiers who have called Obama a racist, a Nazi, and a dangerous fringe radical among other things. So the whole “civility” thing is a comic opera hat when worn in those precincts.

    Comment by Fred Mecklenburg — February 9, 2010 @ 2:53 pm | Reply

  21. “the poisoning of (small d) democratic discourse by anonymous abusive cowards who spew venom and then scurry behind a screen name to hide from responsibility for their words.”

    Mr. Rosenbaum, I’m surprised that you’re surprised that this sort of thing goes on. One needs a thick skin on the internet; grow one.

    Why can’t you ignore the name-calling and insults, since they add nothing to the discussion, other than to show you who to ignore? I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but I tend to dismiss whatever someone says when they start out by saying, “look, jerkface…”

    Be the change you want to see. It’s not that hard, just takes practice. And don’t get so worked up about it.

    Might help if you stopped trying to provoke idiots too.

    Doesn’t Pajamas Media have a moderation scheme, and the ability to block or ban certain IPs?

    Comment by Xanthippe — February 9, 2010 @ 3:39 pm | Reply

  22. Here’s a challenge, Ron. You can stop the madness, you can lead the way, sir. REMOVE YOUR COMMENTS SECTION. Do it for two weeks as an experiment. See what happens to your hits/views. Go on, I dare you.

    Comment by Double-Dog Dare — February 9, 2010 @ 7:28 pm | Reply

  23. Hi Ron. I dont want to make any judgments here but you seem to attract some seriously deranged possibly insane commenters.
    Im not even sure why you are posting on this site. You’re no Frank J. or Hansen or Kimble or Radosh or Chesler. To name a few.

    You should consider another venue. Kos or maybe Huffington would more natural I think.
    If you decide to stay with PJ you may want to consider being more relevent to the spirit of the site.

    Brian Naughton

    Comment by A Nony Mouse — February 9, 2010 @ 9:17 pm | Reply

  24. Somebody call me?
    So let’s see, it’s not the abusive venom, or adolescent scatology, or impolitic and unschooled opinions or rants or any of those other things, it’s the Anonymity and concomitant Cowardice with which you take umbrage, is that right?
    Ya know while we’re at it we should probably get rid of that cowardly secret ballot. Ya, think?
    Dude.

    Comment by Coward — February 9, 2010 @ 10:15 pm | Reply

  25. […] Click here to read. […]

    Pingback by Pajamas Media » A “Driver’s License” For Anonymous Internet Commenters? — February 10, 2010 @ 3:29 pm | Reply

  26. Forum administrators have a delete button and can ban by IP. These tools are more than adequate for troll control.

    Comment by P T Bull — February 10, 2010 @ 3:36 pm | Reply

  27. Nah – annoying as the trolls are – and as a rabid Birther, I put more than a fight with the dolts that operate from Cass Sunstein’s boiler rooms – they’re are just an annoyance, sort of roaches –

    The trolling operations are counter-productive – because the blogs are par excellence niche-oriented, the attempt at re-forging opinions uniformly misfires, it rather solidifies the views and opinions of the very ones who are should be converted –

    Trolls are good for business also – they augment traffic –
    And if indeed disrupting, the admin can anytime block the source IP – you seldom hear of that idiot ever again –

    Nyet on Rosembaum’s idea –

    Rabid Birther in SoCal –

    Comment by misanthropicus — February 10, 2010 @ 4:12 pm | Reply

  28. The very nature of those who rule the leftist roost is what Ron refuses to acknowledge and it is that nature that strongly encourages those not of the leftist fold to remain anonymous. I suggest reading the excellent piece at

    http://www.americanthinker.com2010/02paranoia_strikes_deep_in_obamas_america.html

    and then considering whether or not posting personal information for such folks to use while in their fits of frenzy is a reasonable idea.

    have a nice day

    Comment by rashputin — February 10, 2010 @ 4:32 pm | Reply

  29. Why do you keep repeating past published essays? You had a similar essay about anonymous internet commentators this past Summer.

    Comment by Sebastian Shaw — February 10, 2010 @ 5:09 pm | Reply

  30. Well, as one of the apparently “contemptible cowards” who uses a screen name because I work in a screamingly liberal field and have no interest in being hounded out of a job or being unable to comment on political matters, I have to say that if you have such an issue with screen names, I will be happy to quit reading or commenting on your posts.

    You assume that everyone who chooses to be anonymous is a troll which, looking at your own column, I would say is false. I’m not sure a post this immature and dripping in childish name-calling deserves more than trolls but that would be my “cowardly, anonymous” opinion wouldn’t it? Further, we have already seen in Joe the Plumber and the men of Hillbuzz what happens when good people speak up in ways that the vicious oppose. How then do you propose to protect them? Will you have the government monitor all digital activity and set up a court where people can file suit for discrimination based on internet free speech?

    Your article is trite, insult-laden and childish and you fail to make any effort to examine the potential ramifications for your posters who will suddenly be subject to yet another layer of privacy loss. If you have an issue with an offensive post, delete it.

    Comment by Slveryder — February 10, 2010 @ 5:40 pm | Reply

  31. “the poisoning of (small d) democratic discourse by anonymous abusive cowards who spew venom and then scurry behind a screen name to hide from responsibility for their words.”

    LOL

    words are just words: wind, air, sounds. Nobody can suffer from words. A punch in somebody’s face, now that’s a (little) more painful problem.

    Comment by X — February 10, 2010 @ 5:58 pm | Reply

  32. Mr. Rosenbaum,

    Maybe you didn’t have a lot of time for this article to think it through. In my opinion, you didn’t make a whole lotta sense.

    “You should imagine the words “I am a contemptible coward” appended to the coward’s comment.”
    Ron, let me get this straight. You think this “shames” abusive comments. How would it shame them? Nobody would know.
    It’s just a thought bubble.

    No only that, but with all the cashews out there, what if somebody wanted to “get back” at you for something you said that was
    only abusive in their minds?

    They could go on Yahoo people search and may very well find out your address, where you family lives. And their phone number.
    Most of our home addresses are findable this way.

    I know mine is. I just looked it up.

    By the way, what about Ron Ronsebaum? Oh, golly, somehow, you’re (I looked you up, too) not findable like the rest of us. Did you take precautions to
    hide your personal information?; your home address and phone number. Well, I’ve just gonna say, Ron, you’re smart; forward thinking. You’re not about to let some nut get your private information. You’ve thought it through and decided to protect yourself.

    But you want me to use my real name. With an address the world, (if they use yahoo people search) is about 4 seconds away from finding. Ron, next time, when you think it’s again time to slam people who use made up comment names, please, I implore you, keep your thoughts to yourself.

    Comment by rachel peepers — February 10, 2010 @ 6:10 pm | Reply

  33. Sebastian: Yes, Ron is repeating himself. And as the text of this post shows he’s still going.

    “It’s a problem I’ve addressed in an essay in the forthcoming anthology New Threats to Freedom edited by Adam Bellow. It’s due out in May, according to Amazon.com.”

    So, this is something very important to him.

    And again, Ron thinks that voluntary mass adoption of verification restrictions is the way to solve this issue.

    But Ron hasn’t said a word on what he’ll do about it. Instead of modifying, moving, using a blog that suits his requirements, he writes more essays about how others should fix the problem.

    But don’t worry, for a change of pace his next “angry” essay may center on some outrage and what, you as a conservative must do about it, and why you’re immoral if you don’t.

    Comment by Jack — February 10, 2010 @ 6:48 pm | Reply

  34. As I told you before; You have my email address; Request what you need and I shall give it to you if it is “need to know” information.
    Otherwise, F*(k Off.
    We know you are not that important.

    Comment by Cybergeezer — February 10, 2010 @ 7:37 pm | Reply

  35. Why doesn’t Ron Rosenbaum show up on people searches?
    Who are you, really?

    Comment by Cybergeezer — February 10, 2010 @ 7:41 pm | Reply

  36. I use this screen name to comment everywhere I make blog comments. It isn’t my real name, and I would not use my real name to opine in public about politics, not if Google is going to pick it up and make it available to every prospective employer and client.

    I might feel differently if I lived somewhere that was solidly Republican, but I live in Seattle.

    If that makes me a “coward” to you, I’ve been called worse by better.

    Comment by jvon — February 10, 2010 @ 8:15 pm | Reply

  37. The internet is just fine the way it is. It lets people know how we talk to one another in the good old USA. That is especially important for folks, such as Muslims, who believe that they are going to come to America and find that people are respectful of Allah. Bwahahaha…!!!!

    Comment by Theo Goodwin — February 10, 2010 @ 8:27 pm | Reply

  38. Rachel nailed it!

    P.S. Rachel, I sent you an email a few weeks ago and just sent another one to check in on ya. I hope you got it! =0)

    Comment by Delia — February 10, 2010 @ 9:50 pm | Reply

  39. Licensing free speech is a bad idea. Since when do Americans need a license to exercise a fundamental right recognized and secured by the U.S. Constitution. The battle is in the arena of ideas. We all know who the trolls are in each discussion and their absurdity and venom does more harm to their cause than it does to ours.

    Canard @8 is a 100% correct on how the left punishes those who exercise their rights in a way they deem unacceptable. Who made them the thought police? How dare they try to intimidate those who would exercise their liberty in a free society? Intimidation is the primary tactic of the thug.

    Comment by Kipling — February 11, 2010 @ 12:12 am | Reply

  40. Rosenblum, only narrow minded socialists and other radicals want to curb free speech. Nothing is stopping you from developing a thick skin, and if you can’t, then you have the option of staying off the Internet. At least you have an option, which is more than we will get if the Marxists get control. Every piece of legislation or rule is a restriction on freedom. Some are necessary to preserve harmony and allow us to live by the the Rule of Law. Most are not. Maybe if you attended to your own business and stopped telling everyone else what they should do, you might find something to do of value instead of writing this tripe. I have no problem if you ant to discuss this further, and PJM can give you my email address if their rules permit. As Charlie Finch so well pointed out, there are far more serious matters to be concerned with on the Internet, like catching cyber crooks than to worry about offending your sensibilities.

    Comment by Howiem — February 11, 2010 @ 4:37 am | Reply

  41. Ron has a point. Using a handle can keep your identity secret if that’s important to you with Big Brother snooping all over. But we can spot you by your handle and skip your troll diatribe, or check in to see what a familiar voice has to say. Anonymous seems to be the preferred title for idiots. Skip by them every time. No need for regulation, we can do the job.

    Comment by Gary Ogletree — February 11, 2010 @ 6:29 am | Reply

  42. Liberal troll alert! Liberal troll alert!
    Liberal mischief afoot! Diabolical mind is posting on PJM!
    Dba Rosembaum is the exceedingly dangerous liberal mister Colmes!
    He’s here to control minds!
    Beware, Rosembaum is an evil liberal troll!
    Resist his sinister overtures otherwise you and your family will descend on liberal perdition’s road!
    Liberal mind at work!

    Comment by misanthropicus — February 11, 2010 @ 7:45 am | Reply

  43. Hum, cowards, trolls, things that go bump in the night on the net. Well, when every media bastion of Western free speech publishes Mohammed the child molester cartoons every day I might give you some credence for your self righteous heroism.

    Comment by don — February 11, 2010 @ 8:20 am | Reply

  44. What, then, do we do about posters of abusive articles?

    Comment by Bob Miller — February 11, 2010 @ 9:18 am | Reply

  45. The use of pen names long predates the internet. How many Christians know that the Gospels are anonymous documents and that Mattthew, Mark, Luke and John are fictitious names dreamed up by the Church?

    That is parody, right? I certainly hope you weren’t trying to be truthful.

    Comment by Tex Taylor — February 11, 2010 @ 9:38 am | Reply

  46. “I am not anonymous.”

    U. M. Anonymous

    P.S.
    There is another famous quotation:
    “I wish to remain anonymous”
    U. M. Anonymous

    P.P.S.
    U. M. = Unknown Masked

    Comment by Sherab Zangpo — February 11, 2010 @ 11:12 am | Reply

  47. One non-anonymous poster called megutless for my remaining anonymous. Here was my reply:

    As I have been subjected to some rather vicious ad hominem real-life attacks, I will keep my screen name, thank you. If you wish to consider me gutless for doing so, that is your business. ¿Me entendés?

    Ya unnerstan, Mr. Rosenbaum?

    Comment by Gringo — February 11, 2010 @ 1:33 pm | Reply

  48. 44. Bob Miller: Abusive articles under the names are considered public policy communication. The use of the real name becomes the license to abuse. See how that works? (It’s kind of like Nancy Pelosi calling Tea Party attendees Nazis. The pretense that using real names will prevent abuse has got to be based on wilful ignorance.) Actually, it’s a very small percentage of mindless “screen name” posters who are actually abusive or manipulative. Most of us have learned to ignore them.

    Comment by Meryl — February 11, 2010 @ 3:25 pm | Reply

  49. Mr Rosenbaum:

    The solution to your problem is to stop posting at sites that allow anonymous comments.

    Quite simple, really.

    Comment by Bilgeman — February 12, 2010 @ 11:03 pm | Reply


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