Photograph by Matthew Hull.
You have the right to say whatever you want online. You can say it in the comment section below or you can say it on your own blog. You can visit an internet newspaper and comment there too.
But you do not have the right to expect a response.
Do you know your rights?
Think about your rights for a moment.
Reviewing my year-old thoughts on anonymity, I questioned whether anonymity/pseudonymity was anachronistic. I wondered if people should write online as “John Smith” or as “FatJohn,” and you shared your thoughts.
I wrote on my civic blog that residents have the right to write comments using whatever names they felt most comfortable, and that it is our choice to read and respond to their pseudonymity, regardless of the vitriol therein.
Vitriol is protected speech under the First Amendment. Slander is not.
Should newspapers and blogs require persons use their real names?
Said the Illinois Court of Appeals:
Putting publishers and website hosts in the position of being a ‘cyber-nanny’ is a noxious concept that offends our country’s long history of protecting anonymous speech.
On this blog, you are welcome to write a comment using any name you choose. If you want people to respond to you as “John Smith,” be John Smith. But if you prefer to be “FatJohn,” don’t let me stop you.
Beyond your name, write whatever sentences you want in your comment. Be nice or be mean, the choice is yours. All I insist is you adhere to the comment policy and your comment will never be removed.
I want you to be free here. OK?