Monday, January 03, 2011


A recent Red Electric post has drawn comment from an anonymous writer who takes strong exception to my comments about CEOs who are paid many, many times what their workers are.

You can read his (and my) remarks yourself.

I screen all comments to the Red Electric — not that there are that many to screen, alas. I set a very low bar for letting comment through to this page. If you have a point to make and can make it relatively respectfully and articulately, you’re posted.

But I do pause at anonymous submissions, regardless of quality and comity. Unless there is some obvious reason for a comment to remain anonymous (like you might lose your job or cause someone’s demise, including your own), I can see no reason for anonymity.

I believe that ideas should be traceable to their source. Knowing the authors' identities gives added weight to content because named sources publicly take responsibility for their words and their consequences.

As I read “anonymous’” call for the freedom to make as much money as one wants, apparently without regard to consequences born by others, I thought of the signers of the Declaration of Independence who also wrote of freedom and the pursuit of happiness.

Talk about consequences!

When they signed their names to the Declaration, they immediately made themselves criminals in the eyes of the King. They knew that they had, in essence, placed bounties on their heads.

Yet had no names been affixed to the Declaration of Independence it would have had little or no effect. Imagine “We hold these truths to be self-evident” without knowing who “we” were.

It’s relatively easy to put words on page or screen. If you claim those words as your own, you imply a commitment to live by them and a responsibility for their veracity and consequence. Only in exceptional instances should writers be permitted to shirk either.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I cannot argue your points - you make some good ones here. I like the one about the Declaration of Independence, it's a very good example of the value of staking your claim, come what may.

I will tell you honestly that the primary reason I post anonymously is that I have always been somewhat paranoid of posting anything on the Internet that might someday be used against me, in ways that I cannot now foresee. I run a successful business and am a conservative in a liberal town. I've had public associations come back to bite me a few times already, and frankly I'm just protecting myself and my staff. We're a small company (only 7 people) and in the days of twitter and facebook, news good and bad spreads fast...

I don't run my business with any particular political point of view - I help people of all types and backgrounds. BUT - it doesn't take much these days for someone to target you and your business with a witch hunt if they disagree with you.

I do envy those with the courage to speak their minds freely without regards to the consequences - it's something I do think about. Your points are good, and you've given me something to ponder.

8:23 PM  
Blogger Rick Seifert said...

You too make good points, friend (if I may be so bold to call you that), and have given me much to consider as well.

One additional point. When I write, I try to consider the consequences, and NOT write without regard to them. Sometimes I'm willing to accept those consequences. Sometimes not. Sometimes, I fail to identify consequences that I later regret.

I make it a rule never to write anonymously. If I'm inclined to do so, I treat it as a red flag. I hold back, reconsider, and often reframe what I have to say so that I can put my name on it.

Would this work for you?

9:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I appreciate your advice, I think it is sound. I will definitely consider this and who knows? Perhaps I'll be back again under my real name :) Until then....

8:20 PM  

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