Fincerdoodle657 claims near omnipotent insight to world affairs. Likewise, Catlovesdog4528 knows the movement patterns of extraterrestrials across North America. Even more, BossaNovaHomer has mastered the irony of casting aspersions on someone for casting aspersions. Unidentified and unsolicited “comments” have proliferated on the digital streets of the modern media machine. With each internet article or blog post come countless retorts from those unwilling to put their actual names alongside their many opinions.
To wit, they push civil space to be anything but civil. In reaction, some good-intentioned, if a tad overzealous, among us are cutting free speech to the quick in an effort to put up some guardrails. Zero tolerance policies and expression laws of all sorts, marked by Byzantine rules and hopelessly inconsistent enforcement, leaves a chill over public discourse. Still, the intentionally disruptive manage to anonymously dump toxic waste into our public space without repercussion. The sewers of this internet overflow with secret and mislabeled opinion and diatribe of every sort.
Comedienne Roseanne Barr and pro athlete Collin Kaepernick stepped into the spotlight to publicly express their points of view, each for vastly different reasons. And to each, the world delivered a consequence. Yet, their acts were undeniably their own. No government agency was required to hack iPhone accounts or interrogate and intimidate. These two simply used their own names and are being held to account by their employers and those who hold different points of view.
Some 239 years ago, the founders of this nation chose likewise to sign their real names – many in bold, large letters – to a document demanding independence from, and incurring the wrath of, the world’s mightiest military power. In so doing, they took stunning risk, helped inspire countless others to join the struggle and ultimately broke free of tyranny. Can Fincerdoodle657 hope to do the same?