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The Boston Globe



Some are unworthy of the protection of anonymity

Tom Keane (“Not just for the witless,” Op-ed, Aug. 27) draws the two comparisons frequently made in favor of anonymity in online comments sections of newspapers and magazines: to the Founders writing under such names as “Publius” and to whistle-blowers such as Deep Throat.

Keane neglects to mention that the publications themselves took responsibility for what people like Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay wrote — something akin to unsigned editorials that serve as a newspaper’s stand.

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Keane is criticizing today’s publications for simply wanting to know the identity of writers whose voices they
convey — something that papers in the American colonies did.

Comparisons to whistle-blowers are even more specious. Whistle-blowers add information not otherwise available.

They seek to initiate.

Anonymous trolls react to what is already there, usually with ridicule, dismissal, and mudslinging.

They seek to terminate.

Keane invokes the First Amendment. Since it was conceived to insure the political health of the nation, a medical metaphor should be relevant and useful: When doctors operate to keep our blood flowing, do we want them to let the parasite that has been sucking us dry remain in place?

Jack Garvey

Plum Island

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