Anonymity is no excuse

Published 6:19 pm Saturday, January 10, 2009

Several years ago, a group of professors at the University of Louisiana at Monroe grew tired of their president.

Admittedly, he was a weak administrator and had pushed the university into money woes. Enrollment was down. The school went on accreditation probation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools because of a lack of bookkeeping controls, among other problems.

One of these professors — an economics instructor whose speciality was propaganda during hard times — anonymously created a Web site called Truth at ULM. The point of the site was to tell the “truth” about goings on at the university. This professor managed to keep his identity hidden. He recruited others to help tell the “truth.” At one point, he accused the newspaper of not telling the full story of what was happening on the campus.

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Truth at ULM did its job. It reported with documentation — or pieces thereof — a certain perspective, but never what one would call the truth because the other side was always missing. What good would it do? The professors said the president and his henchmen would lie, so why tell their side of the story?

Eventually, the president resigned. The search for a new president began. The Truth at ULM continued, although matters had changed.

During the latter portion of the Truth’s existence, I was the assistant city editor in charge of education coverage. I never took on the Truth directly and, in fact, refused to read it. The rants on that site seemed as useful as the National Enquirer’s “I had an alien’s love child.”

It seems to me if you are to enjoy the privilege of writing about issues and taking on organizations or individuals, you should put your name to the accusations. Taking pot shots at people, groups or organizations behind the cloak of anonymity places you on the same level as those you attack. It’s cowardice, plain and simple.

Angel Fire has accused this newspaper of taking cheap shots because it has labeled them as cowards. Seems to me, if the community is to come together the critics need to quit hiding in the corners and come out with strong, rational arguments for or against issues. That includes the Web site Angel Fire.

Come on, ladies, either believe enough in your product to reveal yourselves or give it up. You do nothing for unifying the community by throwing bricks from the darkness.