Recently on CNN, Kyra Phillips and John Roberts discussed the idea that the Internet was in need of a "gatekeeper" to monitor the ubiquitous and often nasty anonymous blogggers that inhabit the nether regions of the world wide web.
"There's going to have be a point in time where these people have to be held accountable," Phillips said. "How about all these bloggers that blog anonymously? They say rotten things about people and they're actually given credibility, which is crazy. They're a bunch of cowards, they're just people seeking attention."
I want to say at the outset that I do not subscribe to the view that the Internet needs the type of regulation such a scheme might bring about. However, like Kyra Phillips, I have no great love for anonymous bloggers. There is something about having, potentially, a world wide audience and anonymity that tempts some folks to write the vilest, most hate-filled garbage imaginable.
I do my best to avoid anonymously written blogs, though, at times, I stumble across one. A day or so ago, I was lead - via a link on Drudge - to one such blog. The writer, if he can be called such, was spewing filth - ranting about the Catholic church in general and Pope Benedict in particular. My first impulse was to write a commentary to tear apart his feeble arguments. I decided against that, however. You'll not find a link to that post here.
Unfortunately, the problem isn't reserved to one particular political view; these bloggers can be found on the Left and Right on the political spectrum. There is one rather popular blog (among traditional Catholics) which I no longer read because the anonymous writer will occasionally abandon good taste, saying things in a way I suspect he wouldn't if his readers knew his identity.
As much as I dislike the anonymous blooger, I have an equal lack of respect for those who comment on blogs anonymously. In doesn't take long for someone who comments anonymously to take things into the gutter. During the 2008 presidential primary season, I wrote something that upset someone so much that he began to seriously harass me with his anonymous comments. This individual even went into my blog archives to find areas to insult and pester me. Google Analytics revealed that this person was using a computer on the Georgia Dept. of Education web server.
I no longer allow anonymous comments.
Requiring that commenters have Google accounts is no guarantee that the problem is solved; it's easy enough to get a Blogspot profile. A couple of years ago, I began receiving comments from someone calling himself "ujiosama". At first, his comments were rather tame. After taking a look at his profile information, I knew that this "niceness" would not last long. There was nothing on his profile to reveal his likes or dislikes - nothing about his personality. He had no blog. This lack of candor told me that ujiosama had created this profile simply to be allowed to comment on certain blogs. He was still, basically, an anonymous commenter.
Sure enough, it was not long before ujiosama began with the insulting, nasty comments. As a result, I deleted all his comments as well as my replies to his tripe.
Now, after a few years of keeping his "secret identity" in the closet, ujiosama has returned to leave a comment. On my recent post -The EMHC Scandal- my nemesis could not resist. His comment was, as follows;
"Blogger ujiosama said...
What about those Extraordinary Ministers who just quit because everything does not go exactly as they feel it should. Could that be considered disrespecting the Eucharist(by failing to assist as promised)? What do you think?
July 23, 2010 11:03:00 AM EDT"
For those who are unfamiliar with my history with ujiosama, this comment may seem harmless enough. But there is more below the surface. Ujiosama believes he has found a weakness. Because he doesn't know as much as he thinks he knows, his comment isn't the "gotcha" he believes it to be.
I once told ujiosama that I had requested that I be dropped from the parish's list of EMHC. Immediately, ujiosama assumed that I had done this because of, what he called, "church politics".
No, I tried to explain to him, I have painful arthritis in my right hand and wrist. In addition to the arthritis in my left hand, there is nerve damage which causes numbness in two of the fingers of that hand. I was afraid of dropping the Blessed Sacrament and felt obliged to ask to be removed from duties. What ujiosama doesn't realize, since he is not a member of our parish, I have since that time, changed medication and can hold onto the cup or paten without fear of dropping either. Because he does not attend Mass at our church, he is unaware that I asked to be put back on the list several months ago. He does not know that, due to frequent absences by other EMHC, I normally help out 3 or 4 Sundays a month.
Again, thanks to Google Analytics, I know that ujiosama reads my blog on a regular basis. Perhaps, rather than waste his time reading what I have to say and commenting on things he knows nothing about, maybe he should just get his own blog. There, he could write, without fear of censorship, on lots of things he, likewise, knows nothing about.