The past few days have been tough ones for me — and for the thousands of “06880″ readers who appreciate civil, rational, intelligent discussion of issues large and small.
A post about the new town curator devolved into nasty attacks on her and her appointment. Accusations flew about a waste of town dollars. Even after it was noted that she is a volunteer, she continued to be vilified.
A post about a party we’re planning in July for the “06880″ community quickly degenerated too, into a political catfight. Much of the joy of the announcement was sucked away by anonymous commenters.
I think it’s important to allow everyone to weigh in on any topic. I respect the First Amendment completely.
But this public forum is also a personal project. “06880″ is my brand. It’s being sullied by a few blowhards and bullies.
The attacks on Kathie Bennewitz were one of two final straws. The other was a comment on the party thread. I offered a ride to Babette, who does not have a beach sticker. An anonymous poster — one who uses several different aliases — responded, “Why not a free ride for everyone? That would be a socialist’s nirvana.”
That’s actually pretty funny. But it obscured this truth: The anonymous posters are the ones getting free rides. They’re the ones drinking at the “06880″ trough. And while they’re doing it, they’re also hurting my name.
I know who virtually all of the anonymous posters are — whether they use the name “Anonymous,” an alias, or several of them. I would never reveal their names publicly, though believe me, I have been tempted to.
I also know that the harshest critics of me — and the biggest bullies of others — have never contributed a penny to “06880.” They’re the ones who are taking, taking, taking, and not only not giving back, but making this blog an unfriendly place for others.
So — starting now — readers will have to fill in their name and email in order to comment. It will mean more work for me, but I’ll do it. Abusers will be banned.
If that doesn’t work, I’ll institute a registration form for comments.
I have resisted doing this for a couple of years — despite the pleas of many, many people I respect greatly.
I feel badly — like a parent going back on his word.
But ultimately, I’m doing it because a few commenters acted too often like little children.