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December 11
1975 - Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society incorporates as a 501c3 nonprofit [Heritage Junction]


Commentary by Gene Dorio M.D.
| Saturday, Nov 30, 2013

genedorioBen the printer, Tom the attorney and Sam the tax collector signed the Declaration of Independence. We know them better as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Samuel Adams. Even though they were aware the British might consider their signatures treason, they bravely embraced the idealism of free speech without fear.

That is why I do not understand online comments with monikers in place of real names.

Subscribers to printed newspapers read public opinion columns and letters with identifiable names. For those who go online, there is an extended world of opinion, discussion and conversation broadening one’s baseline information.

With this comes anonymity and diminished accountability. Almost all websites and blogs allow monikers (be it a pseudonym, pen name, nom de guerre, handle or user-screen-login name) which likely conceal who you are. Why?

Do we still fear accusations of “treason” when we reveal our real names? Will there be repercussions – financial, emotional or physical – against us?

Online comments are often informative, educational, creative and entertaining. At times, they get out of hand, and one might see the notification, “Removed due to a violation.”

Yet, isn’t it too easy to lash back at someone when you don’t know who they are? In America, we should be best at practicing free speech. But you are a coward by hiding behind a moniker. (Yes, I called all of you online non-identifiable-moniker-commenters cowards.)

Reveal who you are. You will not be struck by lightening (unless you’re flying a kite like Ben), and you might find better appreciation for the diversity of ideas we share in our community.

As a doctor – although not a psychiatrist – I know that knowing who you are talking to cultivates greater respect, even with divided opinions.

I cannot see Ben, Tom or Sam using monikers. However, with the moniker “Sam the tax-collector,” we might have steered clear of him. At least now, Samuel Adams connotes a brew many of us can enjoy.

 

Dr. Gene Dorio is a housecall geriatric physician on staff at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital and has been engaged as an advocate in many community activities. The views expressed in this column as his alone.

 

 

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2 Comments

  1. Publius Valerius Publicola says:

    Just a quick history reminder; the founding fathers wrote a great deal of published works anonymously while still under British Rule. Those cowards.

  2. Gene Dorio, M.D. says:

    Hi Publius

    You have an admirable moniker (had to look it up).

    I’m sure our founding fathers had to choose their battles wisely, but when push came to shove, literally they put their names on the line. In most instances, I have to think discretion was the better part of valor not knowing the direction the colonies might be going.

    Today, Ben, Tom, and Sam might still want to remain anonymous under certain circumstances, but obviously history shows they weren’t cowards. As I mentioned in the article, some opinions might be stifled for fear of retribution. But being more forthright identifying who we are may bring greater strength in the individual, as it did with Publius Valerius Publicola.

    Gene Dorio, M.D.

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