MP calls for end to anonymous comment posting

Wayne Thibodeau
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Charlottetown MP Shawn Murphy reads over the latest comments on The Guardian's website.

A P.E.I. MP is calling for an end to anonymous comments on mainstream media websites.

Charlottetown Liberal MP Shawn Murphy says it’s just a matter of time before both the media outlets and the actual writers of some of these supposedly anonymous comments end up on the wrong side of an expensive and costly defamation suit.

Murphy would like media websites to follow the lead of newspapers which, about two decades ago, put an end to unnamed letters to the editor.

“I found that the comments are getting nastier and nastier,” Murphy said in an interview with The Guardian.

“I believe there is a feeling of anonymity out there when people make the comments but as there have been many court cases in the last year from all across Canada that it is very easy for one to get the ISP numbers of the computer that those comments came from through a court order.”

There have been two high-profile cases in the Maritimes with regard to online comments.

In July, the Moncton Times & Transcript agreed to comply with a court order to reveal the identity of an anonymous commenter after a Moncton firefighter complained their comments were defamatory.

In April, a Nova Scotia court ordered the Halifax weekly The Coast to release all of the information it had to identify commenters. That came after two fire officials there complained an anonymous commenter posted comments alleging racism, cronyism and incompetence at the fire service.

Once the fire officials had the names of the commenters, they launched legal action against them.

Gary MacDougall, managing editor of The Guardian, said he shares the MP’s concerns. He said his newspaper carefully moderates every comment before it is posted to ensure comments are not over the line and he’s not prepared — at least not yet anyway — to require writers to post their real names.

"There are some people out there who seem unaware of libel and the idea of what is a fair comment and what isn’t." Gary MacDougall, Guardian managing editor

“There are some people out there who seem unaware of libel and the idea of what is a fair comment and what isn’t or they choose to disregard any sense of fair play,” said MacDougall.

“The online world is evolving. When a lot of media outlets first started allowing comments on their stories, they were unmoderated. It quickly became apparent to a lot of organizations, certainly ours, that we cannot allow such a practice.”

MacDougall said there is an argument that can be made to maintain anonymous comments.

“Let’s face it, there are some stories, especially in a small jurisdiction like Prince Edward Island,

especially political stories, where it is very difficult for people to use their real names for fear of repercussion.”

But the Charlottetown MP doesn’t buy that argument.

“I think if you’re going to make a comment you have to be prepared to put your name behind it,” he said.

Murphy said he doesn’t have a problem with comments made about him, describing it as a price of admission to public office.

But he said not everybody pays that price of admission, including individuals, groups and organizations that are not in the public domain but can still be targeted by online commenters.

“They are going to become reluctant to give interviews because they are scared of the three pages of hammering that they are going to get in the blogs,” he said.

Organizations: The Guardian, P.E.I. MP, Moncton Times Transcript Charlottetown MP

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Canada, Moncton Nova Scotia Prince Edward Island

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Recent comments

  • Jason
    September 14, 2010 - 10:40

    For an idea of what happens when posting your real name on a web form similar to this, do a quick Google search for Blizzard requiring the use of Real ID on their forums. The moderator that posted about it being safe and offered his real name, had his entire families personal information (address, ph#'s, names, etc) publically posted over and over again. If you are concerned about what people are going to say on your website disable the comment function.

  • Astalavista
    September 14, 2010 - 10:00

    This seems like our MP wants to say good bye. Long term office fixation may very well cause paranoid symptoms and the main symptom may very well be permanent political delusion. What a landmark issue ?!!! It should be kept in mind that there is delusion with illegality also but in that case it is not permanent or organized. On the other hand, political paranoia is a true strategy. The symptoms of delusion appear gradually to the electorate, and the politician becomes sentimental, suspicious, irritable, introverted, depressed, obstinate, jealous, selfish, unsocial and bitter. Hence his social adjustment is not desirable, and while he is at the highest, the effort that he is prepared to expend is correspondingly little. Our politician does not acknowledge his own failures or faults, and by sometimes accepting certain qualities as belonging to himself, even when imaginary, he develops paranoia. Our politician appears to be (1) preoccupied with unsupported doubts about friends or associates, (2) suspicious; unfounded suspicions; believes others are plotting against him , (3) perceives attacks on his/her reputation that are not clear to others, and is quick to counterattack (4) maintains unfounded suspicions regarding the fidelity of others, (5) reads negative meanings into innocuous remarks reluctant to confide in others due to a fear that information may be used against.

    • MR Tazer Sucks
      September 14, 2010 - 11:53

      Whats with the psycological profile? How is it relevant and how did you come up with all of that from his dissagreeing with annoymous comments? Like seriously, LOL.

  • Juke Streudel
    September 14, 2010 - 09:36

    Thanks very much Jocelyne. BTW this story made it on to, much to the embarrasment of PEI, esp. Liberals in Chtown.

  • Shirley
    September 14, 2010 - 09:10

    To: Charlottetown: Did you read your comment before posting it? Before I began I am not on "Pogey"as you called it or welfare and have schooling just like so many of these people that are on unemployment or welfare sometimes in life things can happen to people educated or not and they have no choice but to except one of these options so I think it is very unkind of you to write such a mean and hurtful comment as you did.

  • Dee Quintin
    September 14, 2010 - 08:48

    Shawn Murphy is out of touch with modern reality. How exactly would he propose to enforce this new draconian law? Will web administrators have to call all online posters to verify their identiy --maybe ask them to fax a copy of their drivers licence--before posting the comments? If he can't answer the question "how would it work" he should stay quiet instead of lobbing half-baked ideas around. He must be very desparate for a headline.

  • John Johnstone
    September 14, 2010 - 08:18

    Anonymity is seen as a crucial element of the right of free speech by allowing the speech to take place without fear of retaliation or ostracism. While free speech is legal in this country, no one can argue that if you legally defame someone online, you’re legally liable. But should The Guardian or any other media be legally required to give up your identity…just to be sued? As respectful citizens, we all know better that free speech rights are not unlimited. It is well-established that there is no free speech right to engage in illegal or defamatory activity. There is no free speech right to engage in these activities anonymously or to maintain your anonymity against a legal challenge. Defamation is a claim, stated or implied to be factual, that gives an individual, business, product, group, government or nation a negative image. The case would probably hinge on whether it can be proved that the anonymous blogger acted maliciously and spread lies about the current government — rather than simply opined about its character. After all, it’s protected free speech to say that you believe someone is disingenuous or otherwise intolerable. It’s another thing to imply incorrectly that the person sleeps around, especially if you knew it wasn’t true. After all, voters are still allowed to vote anonoumysly

  • Juke Streudel
    September 14, 2010 - 07:17

    Thanks to The Old Lady for the note of support. Last night I spoke to a number of Liberals and they all feel Shawn is not sincere here, pushing for an end to anonymous posting is overkill at best and dishonest in terms of intention for the more crtitical. These are Liberals already active against Ghiz and on the edge in terms of moving against Shawn. The Thomas Paine reference was brilliant, and I encourage Lynn L and others supporting Shawn to give Paine's work a read. Paine wrote over 200 years ago and his thinking is more modern and democratic than the Shawn Murphy supporters of 2010. Guardian, your PC membership story is not on the site. Please put it up. You did not put up the last one either. We should be allowed to comment. Thanks again, Guardian, for the solid editorial position on the MP's attack on freedom of expression. You are more advanced in your thinking than CBC. You are a private corporation and CBC is funded by the taxpayer. Yet you are standing up for what is right and they are caving into political interests.

    • Jocelyne Lloyd
      September 14, 2010 - 08:22

      Hi Juke, The Conservative story is online now. I'll go hunt up the previous one, too, and make sure it wasn't posted. Thanks for your comments. Jocelyne Lloyd, web editor.

  • Paula
    September 14, 2010 - 07:04

    No disrespect to Shawn but are there not bigger issues for him to deal with. The House of Commons opens tomorrow. What about the economy, employment, the environment etc. Media outlets will look after themselves and set their own standards. Shawn can't help but provoke people to ask what he may be trying to hide or is he sensitive about his family members business dealings. Because he said he expects to be criticized as an MP because its' the price of admission. Just my opinion to which I am entitled.

  • Charlottetownian
    September 14, 2010 - 06:43

    Why should I reveal my name and have pickups full of grade 6 failing hicks showing up with pitchforks cuz i be messin wit dare pogey and well fare? Real taxpayers see this is just a move towards a communist police state. What's next? suspend elections? What difference would it make? Actual tax payers aren't represented anymore. Free speech is my right.

  • David
    September 13, 2010 - 22:45

    Here is simple question for Mr. Murphy. Mr. Murphy will you step down and resign should it be shown that people from your own office have posted on some of these same news sites. Plus the fact people from your own office didn't post under their own names or ever made it kbnown where they were posting from. Mr. Murphy will be sharing how many times this happeed with the public?

  • Anne the nonnie mus
    September 13, 2010 - 19:22

    Maybe I will use my name when every elected politician from every party posts an accurate expense account detailing every cent spent. Why are so many reluctant to account for what they spent?

  • Rufus Rastas Johnson Brown
    September 13, 2010 - 18:55

    Great idea,but lets go one step further.The media will no longer be permitted to cite anonymous sources,a liberal/conservative/ndp/bloc spokesman said,a prominent .........etc.and experts must have real credentials.In fact how about actual journalism instead of crap opinion pieces pretending to be reporting.

  • Thomas Paine
    September 13, 2010 - 18:21


  • Anonymous in the House.
    September 13, 2010 - 17:15

    I'll make Shawn Murphy a deal. I'll agree with the media anonymous being removed if the MPs in Parliament start becoming anonymous in their voting on Bills in the House. That way leaders like Ignatieff who whip the Liberals to vote according to his wishes and not the wishs of the MPs constituents won't know who defies his wished. It's time MPs started thinking as the people who elected them to represent their ridings and not their party of leader. Anonymous votes in the House will stop that nonsense.

  • -- ANONYMOUS. --
    September 13, 2010 - 16:58

    I would like to anonymously say that my anonymity on the internet is not subject to the whims of a nobody backbench (Liberal - surprise) MP who thinks the government knowing more about you is a good idea. Good grief man, what have you been smoking that made you think this was a good idea to go public with???

  • Carol Anne Green
    September 13, 2010 - 16:51

    I totally agree with this, if you have something to say and actually believe in what you have to say, why hide behind a name. Some of you are saying that you don't want your neighbours to know, well, then you obsivously don't have much of a conviction of what you believe. There has been way too much of making snowballs and throwing them, when people don't know who is behind the snowballs. I believe that this will get rid of the constant complainers and let the people who just might have some solutions.....this will get rid of all the complainers, you know, the ones who would complain because they only won 1 Million on the lotto instead of 10 Million....and just for the record, I don't pay any attention to people who do not post their real name anyways.....and they are few and far between

  • Charlottetownian
    September 13, 2010 - 16:03

    I smell some rural islanders worried that taxpayers are against all the farm and fishing subsidies and bailouts given to the by snivel servants.

  • Laston Lastof
    September 13, 2010 - 15:47

    Great to see local mp is reading the paper his self ... Entirely possible that he may see someone shaking their finger at him and doing so from behind internet screen ...if legit and valid ..then oh well ... it takes very little ability to read to sort through the insane and depraved comments some people make ...drifting off subject taking story about yacht manufactured in Taiwan and making it into a rant about racist low cost off shore out sourcing ... any reader with a grade 3 education (level required to read a typical daily) can discern the ranters from the righteous ... i suggest the offended mp get his self into a chair at local coffee joint and chill... and give about as much veracity to the comments heard there ... i have also taken it upon my self to send him a years subscription to National Enquirer they too report from unnamed sources close to subject of story ... and they sell a bazillion copies each week ...

  • An outraged Canadian
    September 13, 2010 - 15:44

    Typical Liberal small minded approach to a problem that doesn't exist. A lot of us can't use our names as our comments would be seen as coming from the organizations we work for - especially if you worked in government lets say and wanted to post a comment about how it doesn't work... I also don't want my name plastered all around the internet for spammers and the like to grab hold of, but most importantly it will stifle the opinions of tens of thousands of Canadian's who feel outraged at the crap politicians like Mr. Murphy put us through without an outlet. If someone says something libelous, then by all means go after the newspaper to release the name for the suit, but if I just say that Mr. Murphy reminds me of a long dead codfish, then fair game. If he doesn't like it, he shouldn't get into politics.

  • M Butler
    September 13, 2010 - 15:28

    Unfortunately some of the comments on here get out of line and way off topic because of some posters that would rather attack someone personally than have an open debate about difference of opinions. Its unfortunate, but it happens. For Shawn Murphy to come out and say that he wants to end anonymous comments is also way out of line. Ever hear about Freedom of Speech?? Its a RIGHT that us Canadians have. Its up to the Guardian to moderate the comments they allow to be seen by the lets just leave it at that. If people would rather post a brilliant idea or a great comment on an article anonymously to get their point across without suffering the consequences....then so be it....there is nothing wrong with that. If someone is comfortable using their real name on their posts, then great....good for them....but that doesn't mean everybody is comfortable doing that. I hate to say it, but the Guardian will suffer greatly if they allow Mr Murphy's idea to fall into place. People come here to express their opinions on government scandals and political blunders to make them feel better. Nobody can express that opinion to their local politicians because the politician would not take it seriously and just ignore it. What we really need is some politicians who will be accountable for their actions in government and not lie, cheat and steal from the taxpayers all the time and ignore the people when they have had enough.....but since that will never happen, we will need the Guardian to allow us fed up Island taxpayers to voice their opinion, whether its anonymous or not. Mr Murphy....get with the times. Maybe if there wasn't so many cover-ups and scandals by government, we wouldn't be making comments everyday on these articles that the Guardian prints.

  • Not posted
    September 13, 2010 - 15:05

    Hi, I posted a comment earlier today and have forgotten the name I used but it was under the same email address perhaps I should have used my real name? I would like you the moderator to email me at the email I posted and give me the reason why my comment was not posted? There was nothing in that comment that would be of any concern to you or your boss in any way. If I do not receive a response I will be coming in to the guardian to speak with you and your editor on why my comment was not posted. If you wish to moderate please do so, but dont edit things out just because you may not agree with them. I will expect that email in the next 24 hours with your explanation or if you wish you can explain it to me in person when I come in to see you. I am not kidding I will follow up!

    • Jocelyne Lloyd
      September 13, 2010 - 15:35

      Hi Not Posted, I don't have your email address. But here's my response: We never edit things out because we don't agree with them. if your comment wasn't posted it would be because it didn't meet the terms and conditions listed below the window where you write your comment or, more likely, because we never got it. After posting a comment, please scroll down to see if there is a green checkmark and the message "Comment submitted" or whether there is a red X and the message "Validation Failed". Validation can fail if the terms and conditions box isn't clicked or if the validation text weeding out the real people from the machines wasn't entered properly. In either case, please try again. Jocelyne Lloyd, web editor

  • An Old Lady
    September 13, 2010 - 15:03

    Juke Streudel, I agree with, support and salute your eloquent, powerful comments.

  • Marg Ross
    September 13, 2010 - 14:28

    Bottom live is if you "talk it,then "walk "it. I love how folks just belt out the negative ,crude,opinions then are too afraid to add their name on here and then when folks do leave a comment there is usually several slamming you who disagree with it .....whats up with that,(????) not to mention how 50% of the time folks get lost in the weirdest of things .. like the size of a computer moniter??? Oh well :( We each have the right to our own opinion,others may not agree with mine and vice versa but we each have to respect each others.

  • Juke Streudel
    September 13, 2010 - 13:56

    Lynn L, thanks for recognizing my post. I take it then that you are accepting MP Murphy's comments at face value. Maybe I am wrong about his motivations. Maybe he has faced a lot of pressure and has just overeacted against principles of freedom of expression. Had you complained to the MP about this prior to his press release? Has Shawn Murphy responded to a deluge of comments about anonymous posts on media websites? He does not mention that he received complaints, not in this story nor in the CBC stories? Or is there something bothering Shawn about some of these posts? I think the latter but, of course, you are welcome to disagree. Isn't it great how we can do this? Exchange ideas for the sake of ideas. You wouldn't want to take rights away from people, would you? Or aid in efforts to take rights away from people? Would that not bother you? Just a little. If the goal is to curtail hateful commentary then there are ways to do that through site moderation, which seems to work for the most part. Without specific examples ( or at least general areas of conern) such as the cases cited in the article it is tough to figure what Murphy or you are talking about. As for your inferences and aspersions about idleness and limited brain power, I want to assure you that I am not hurt nor offended in any way. And, I am fully comfortable that you were not trying to hurt me or others who do not accept the word of politicians at face value. And I am glad your post made it past the moderators, Lynn L. I look forward to further arguments from you on what you conceive freedom of speech to actually mean.

  • Lynn L
    September 13, 2010 - 12:59

    My personal take on this is the lack of supervision by the editor of the Guardian who allows highly offensive remarks to be posted by people who don't publish their names. If someone believea in a cause strongly enough, then why not stand up and speak openly and use your name. Otherwise, a person is hiding behind a mask, giving the impression that they are either ashamed of their opinion or know that it may not be right/true. The things listed by one Jack Struedel do not hold water with me. None of those things are what is under discussion here. What is under discussion is the name-calling and slanderous remarks made by people who hide behind anonymity to hurl offense. The remarks are made to hurt and offend, and the person posting them is too embarassed by their own remarks to sign their names. Otherwise, we all know that there are some who have little to do with their time than to pass opinions on things they know little or nothing about. I love their creativity in chosing names and wonder why they don't use some of the brain power to inform themselves before passing nasty remarks. I am a stong proponent of freedom of speech, but want to remind people there are laws against promoting hatred.

  • wowsers
    September 13, 2010 - 12:13

    Did you notice how LARGE that monitor...............government spending...ugggggg

  • Leo
    September 13, 2010 - 12:11

    Shawn Murphy needs to clarify just why he is so uptight about this issue. He also needs to think about possible ramifications of this change. For years and years the public was stifled and couldn't say anything about or against anyone or any company for fear of retaliations. Just imagine in plce the size of PEI if someone posted a negative comment say about a politician. There would be problems for that person.. In a perfect world we could all voice our opinions and no one would have to worry about possible ramifications. problem is we don't live in a perfect world and that is why there are courts, and libel and slander laws. Mr. Murphy needs to think more big picture here and maybe also develop a thicker skin or else find a new job. If he can't stand the heat than stay out of the kitchen.

  • wog
    September 13, 2010 - 10:48

    Perhaps the answer is simply FREE accounts needed to post. Where people input their real identities (supposedly) and The Guardian has a record of them. In any event, when it comes to identities online, its always somewhat hard to prove. There will always be a degree of good faith involved as private business does not have the investigative resources available to verify the identity of each and every user. Its not practical.

  • Juke Streudel
    September 13, 2010 - 10:33

    I am as pleased with the Guardian for this story as I am shocked by Shawn Murphy MP for initiating this attack on free speech through a press release from an office I pay for with my taxes. This is a fine article by Wayne Thibodeau with relevant and balanced comments by Gary MacDougall, The Guardian's Managing Editor. Shawn is way off balance and his thinking is way out of whack here, calling forcibly for an end to anonymous comments on media stories. Murphy is not looking for a productive debate. For whatever reason, he is pushing hard on a draconian solution to a problem he perceives. With his chatter about laws suits, he seems to threaten his own consitutents- Guardian readers and people in managment at the Guardian. Shawn, I remind you that we are your constituents, our votes keep you in office and our taxes pay for your salary, office, expenses, etc. We are Islanders, no better or no worse than you in the grand scheme of things, and we are citizens of Canada, a country whose laws and institutions are guided by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, introduced by Pierre Trudeau, a Liberal PM, almost three decades ago. The Guardian defends these rights, for itself and for all of us, and that is the proper editorial position of a newspaper in a free and democratic country. Sometimes my posts do not go up and I am now both accepting of this practice and grateful that it sometimes does happen. My posts that do not go up have obviously crossed the line. So do the potentially hurtful comments of others that never see the light of day. Obviously. The Guardian goes even a little further, recognizing the nature of the political culture of the community it serves. PEI is a small place and politicians tend to use fear as much as they do patronage to control the population and who says what in public. I have five or six relatives/very close friends whose lives could be disrupted if I was forced to speak and write openly in the manner that some issues, like the PNP scandal, clearly deserve. The real issue here is the strange behaviour of our Member of Parliament. Something is bothering him so much that he attacked his own party's national political heritage in favour of what must be localized cronyism and collusion, possibly, I suggest, over the PNP scandal cover up. I honestly can't think of anything more pervasive that would affect the shared cronies of both Shawn Murphy and the Ghiz regime boys esp. in Chtown. There is nothing on the federal scene that could be bothering an Oppostion MP so much. And I honestly do not see extremist groups nor foreign powers undermining PEI nor Canada in the comments sections of local media. As dicussed in the Guardian October 2, 2009, Shawn has interfered in the local PNP scandal before, trying to push off the proper practice of having deputy ministers appear before the PEI Public Accounts Committee, defending the secrecy of the Ghiz boys on PNP, and contradicting the accountability principles of the federal system and all of the rest of the provinces in Canada. This action from Murphy was unnecessary political interefence, contrary to the wishes of and scornful of the concerns of hundreds of his own constituents in Chtown. Shawn has lost control of himself again and he may not have too many of these poorly thought out indulgences left before he begins to deeply offend the most ardent and usually very supportive Liberals in Charlottetown, the core of people needed to deliver a Liberal candidate to victory in a federal election. As far I can recall in history, Chtown/Hillsborough has sent Tory MPs to Ottawa much more often than Liberal MPs over the last six or seven decades, even with the Liberal trend since 1988. You need Liberals like me, Shawn. Be sure of it! If this is not the political swan song of Shawn Muphy then his next il considered outburst against his own voters just may be it. Shawn, there is plenty to criticize with the Harperites and that is where I and many others, I think, expect you to focus your efforts. Do not finish off your career by fighting the wrong battles. This is the most honest advice to our MP I can think of. You are way out on a fragile limb on this one, Shawn. Obvioulsy more than you thought when you attacked your own constituents through a press release. Lawrence MacAulay and Wayne Easter never do anything this unwise and you, Shawn, have now done it twice. I thnk you know how the game of baseball is played, Shawn. You will never get another turn at the bat if you lose your seat in the next election. Thanks to the Guardian and fair warning, on a strictly political basis, to Shawn Muphy MP, Charlottetown.

  • Chris S
    September 13, 2010 - 10:32

    Thankfully the guardian has its head on its shoulders even if our MP and national news outlet the CBC does not (oh , sorry was that over the line Mr. Murphy?). I can think of many groups who society needs to hear from that need to stay protected for their own safty regardless of whether or not an MP feels they should have the guts to put their name behind it (what bravado, completly blind to reality). For arguments sake I will present 3: 1> Atheists and other skeptics: a small religious community like PEI or indeed all of north america needs to hear a secular voice every once in a while to balance out the irrationality that bombards media day in and day out. But should the price for sharing this voice potentially be the loss of friends and family? Jobs? Opportunities? Privacy? Should the atheist need to fear for his families safety simply for sharing his opinion online? Should this voice simply fade out of public discourse due to privacy concerns? 2>Homosexuals - Should someone whom is gay have to out themselves to comment honestly on gay issues on web forums? Should they have to offer themselves up on a silver platter to the very real threat of violence and discrimination that exists (regardless of Mr Murphys insistance that they should stand behind their real name)simply because they want to put their two cents in on their use of the glbt library or the blood donation conversation or adoption issues? 3>Political commentators, religious commentors - yes religious folks I even support your right to anoniminity (I do try my best not to use special reasoning to avoid being a hipocrit). Do all religious commentators really want to have their name associated with some of the things they say? They no more deserve discrimination than the atheist at the top of my list or the homosexual in the middle. Should their opinions on gay marriage and abortion be held against them in job hunting or promotion time comes around? I think we all know the answer. On the political front should their bossess know they are libs/cons/greens/ndpers if thats not something they have shared through other normal social interaciton? These three of course are not all inclusive I am sure readers can think of hundreds of other examples. The libel/slander issue is 100% a red herring, we know from previous decisions that anonominity is simply a veil that can be pulled back with a court order allowing truly libel commentors to be prosecuted. The fact of the matter seems to me to be that people don't like to have their poor little feelings hurt, they dislike being offended. In my opinion thats just too bad, you have no right to live your life in a public space without ever being offended by someone elses ideas or opinions. Mr Murphy has a very interesting take on free speech and who is in / out of the public domain for comments (hint: he thinks religion is off the table for anonymous critisism, check out his blog on this issue from yesterday). I don't think his take is shared by a majority of Canadians and even if it was why should the majority be able to lean on the rights of the minority on free speech issues?

  • Peter Mydean
    September 13, 2010 - 10:31

    I sure hope he can read from that big monitor he has there. LOL Unless there has been slander or threating comments, than I think the use of an anonymous name should be allowed. There are other ways of tracking down the poster. It is almost laughable to want to know the real names of posters, for what purpose? I will give my real name to you because I do not really care especially when it does come to government. It seems to me that politicians cry foul each time something negative is said about them. When is last time a politician has stuck to his or her word while in office. Easy enough for them to tell you what you want to hear to get a vote. For the record I don't believe in some of these comments people post about just regular people who may have come across hard times or such and some idiot will have stupid comment to make things worse for those people. For that keep you big fat mouth shut .

    September 13, 2010 - 10:27

    PEI is a small community and as one commentor has already stated. Every knows each others business and if you published your name not only would you have some of your neighbours at your door but the powers to be would also have a list of who does not agree with their policies. What appears to be happening is that elected officials are trying to stop comments that they do not agree with. After we lose free speech because some politicians don't like what we say what goes next?

  • AJ
    September 13, 2010 - 10:26

    I'm surprised to read Gary MacDougall's remarks about the careful moderation exercised by The Guardian editorial staff to ensure that no comment that is "over the line" is posted. I have read some very nasty, ignorant comments on here over the years!

  • Ann
    September 13, 2010 - 10:11

    "You may not post insulting, discriminatory or inappropriate content, which may be removed at our discretion. " If the Gaurdian is including this as a term one has to agree to in order to submit a comment, why are they not then enforcing it? I have seen many offensive comments posted and even more that are plain inappropriate yet the Guardian has let them be posted. If they actually enforced the Conditions of Use on a consistant basis than I don't think there would be a problem. If you start requiring people to use their real name to post a comment, you will go back to having the same boring stuff we see in the Letters to the Editor section.

  • Goddard Graves
    September 13, 2010 - 09:27

    Rarely do I find myself in agreement with a mainstream politician, but I think the MP is onto something here. This very paperTHE GUARDIAN (on-line) is Exhibit "A" for the depths to which some people sink when they can hide behind computerized anonymity. Editor MacDougall claims to be defending writers' privacy and safety, and I suppose that in the broad sense of the words, he's right. But considering the many examples I've seen of scurrilous, ignorant, and even vicious comments, it pains me to see the concept of "rights" stretched to cover to such behaviour. I have seen plenty of stuff which in the US would quite properly land all concerned in court -- where, of-course, everybody loses, except the lawyers!

  • country boy
    September 13, 2010 - 09:23

    Although I believe that what Mr. Murphy is saying has some merit, many of us would not comment on certain issues due to the backlash we could get from our neighbours or even from political parties when one comments on a touchy issue. I strongly believe that calling people especially politicians thieves, liars or worse should not be allowed. Any comment that would questions a persons character instead of a policy should not be printed. Blogs that deal with issues, not the person, which would generate debate should be encouraged. Issues such as our health care, education, subsidization of farmers and fishers, farming practices that harm our environment, the PNP issue, policing, and of course our favourite - school closures due to weather- always generate debate whether logical or not. Any comment that would be libelous should never be printed behind anonymity.

  • Mystery
    September 13, 2010 - 09:08

    just because of this annonymous thing watned to get banned does not mean that anyone could use a fake name or somthing along the lines.