Sunday, March 25, 2007


When we started WataugaWatch, we wanted a site that was as open and as free for comment as possible, and we agreed at the outset to put up with personal abuse, and not to censor comments, in the interest of a free-flowing site for democratic give and take.

Naturally, we realized that ignorance likes nothing better than anonymity. Snipers love cover. Cowards thrive where there is no accountability.

Therefore, we've seen plenty of ignorance, backbiting, and cowardice in comment threads on WataugaWatch over the years (and, yes, it's been years).

We've also seen intelligent and insightful analysis, wit, and news scoops of the sort that the mainstream media wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pica-pole.

We have deleted a few comments that crossed the line, as far as we were concerned, into potential libel. We did the right thing, evidenced by the fact that the State Bureau of Investigation came calling, seeking the I.P. (Internet Protocol) identification number for the very posts that were deleted. With an I.P. number, your identity can be traced, or at least the computer on which you composed your diatribe can be traced. We couldn't recover the I.P. numbers, and to this day I don't know if the S.B.I. recovered them.

The point is, in a legitimate legal proceeding involving allegations of libel, slander, improper conduct with confidential or proprietary information, we would be obliged to divulge I.P. information to authorities. We wouldn't relish doing it, but there are already court cases establishing that "blog anonymity" does not absolve a poster from liabilities under the law.

If you're wise, you'll think through what you're saying here. If you're unwise, you'll continue to sling your bilge indiscriminately.

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