To the Editor:
It's been several years, but some may remember the write-in-portion of the paper that printed anonymous community comments. Before too long, it turned into personal attacks on individuals that, if not directly slanderous, were hurtful, cowardly, and many times not totally truthful.
Eventually, the rules stated that anonymous comments were no longer permitted and that stand made it clear that anonymous comments were becoming destructive. From then on, those who made comments had to take responsibility for them and sign their name.
Now, we are dealing with the same cowardly and irresponsible behavior with the online version of The (Brazil) Times. There is a gang mentality that raises its head at times and makes it difficult to discuss topics in a respectful manner as some do not want to take responsibility for their statements.
This has made some of the comments more brazen as they are written from behind a mask.
This does not help the cohesiveness of the community. While we learn much that could help the community by this discussion, the anonymity makes it open for personal attacks and vendettas. It also puts the weight of the liability onto The Times if comments were to be moderated and approved before allowed to post. Several times, the removal of an unmoderated comment has come too late as many have read it before it was removed.
I think it's time to either make comments go through a moderator so an employee of the paper can be the judge of what might be slanderous before printing it online or like the print form of the paper, all to reveal their true identity so they take full responsibility for their comments. I lean toward the latter as then they will not be looked upon as being edited.
I feel that this alone will help keep the discussions a little more civil as I'll wager that some of those who make the more outrageous ones would never do so if they had to take responsibility for them.
Thank you for your time.