Rarely do I find myself in agreement with Arizona Republic liberal columnist E.J. Montini, but his piece today addressing the loss of civility in our public discourse raises important issues.
Montini is making the point that it seems people feel the right to say anything today — including making death threats.
But here’s the issue — all of these comments are being made anonymously. Anonymity allows people to take cheap shots and make statements and sometimes threats they would never make in person. And as a huge fan of the political blogosphere, I’m sorry to say that anonymous blog posts have been a major contributor to the loss of civility in political discourse.
I have no problem with anonymity when comments don’t involve personal attacks, innuendo, or threats. But if you are launching personal attacks, you ought to have the courage to sign your name.
I’d like to see conservative political blogs lead the way in requiring this minimum level of civility, rather than contributing to the poisoning of our political culture. Until then, much of the political blogosphere will be reduced to the influence of the anonymous crank calls described by Montini.


  1. Thank you, thank you Len for addressing this issue. As a reader of conservative blogs for over a year, I agree that the use of psudonyms in personal attacks displays cowardice. In the not so distant past, a person’s good name and reputation were something to be proud of and defend if defamed without basis in truth. Should the ease of the blogosphere excuse educated people from upholding a civil standard for themselves and others? Certainly not. Today’s duels are not with pistols at dawn, but with words. Both forms are just as dangerous.

  2. That was the issue I wrote about in the Republic about people writing horrendous things on the blog but not willing to say them in person or even get their name published with respect to comments they made about Officer Lovejoy. There has to be a better way for public discourse than anonymity..

  3. Actually, there IS a better way – at least a different way – at allow for public discourse with civility. That involves moderated forums. I’ve started one called “Beyond the 101″ that focuses on news and discussion about the Far West Valley (the land “beyond the 101′).
    I’ve set up some very specific groundrules about how we will be talking to one another. We’re not going to moderate opinions – but we are going to insist on common courtesy and politeness. And I’ll bounce anyone who doesn’t play nice.
    Again, it’s not about what someone says – except that if you make an accusation, I’ll ask people to back it up with facts, or buh-bye. It’s about saying it with dignity and class.
    It’s not a conservative forum, although I am conservative – but hopefully it will start a trend.
    Goodness knows we need one in Surprise!