“This is the same, tired, old story, centering around a tax-and-spend approach to relief of poverty. If most of the north County poor population would learn English and stop getting pregnant before age 20, then they might deserve some more tax money from south County.” –Anonymous, posted on “Blogabarbara”
“It is so clear that Das (Williams) cares about Das and nothing else.”
-Anonymous, posted on “Blogabarbara”
Many months back, a group of political junkies and insiders here in Santa Barbara threw up a blog and started posting snarky, sometimes funny and sometimes insightful missives about local politics. Titled “blogabarbara”, the site quickly gained a huge readership and a vibrant coterie of commenters. Hiding behind clever, street-name pseudonyms, the blogmasters railed against our often less than stellar local press, and some of the less principled members of the local political establishment. The politics of the blog is centrish Santa Barbara Democrat, hostile to rampant growth, but also hostile to any real progress on economic justice.
It’s great that such a thing exists. Despite my political differences with the hosts, and the fact that they’ve taken a few swipes at yours truly, I think that we need just such a forum. I don’t, however, think that it should be anonymous.
Don’t get me wrong. Anonymity is a fun thing. It allows you to call names and spew vitriol with no accountability. You can hide any interests you have in the topic, and never seem self-serving. It’s like the orgy scene in Eyes Wide Shut. You get to put on a mask and screw whoever you want to without any consequences. However, in a town as small as ours, when a good portion of the political elites is thrilled to read an ongoing commentary about themselves, a forum which encourages anonymous mudslinging is irresponsible.
It’s also frustrating for people who put themselves in the public eye in order to move a political agenda forward. There are always armchair pundits out there who spread gossip and talk trash, I’ve been known to talk a little myself down at my local. However, putting that low level of discourse up on the web is no good for anyone, and allowing people to post anonymously does just that.
Why provide a forum for someone to hurl invective like the examples above and not even sign it? More importantly, how can someone respond to personal attacks, like the one leveled against County Supervisor candidate Das Williams, when the attacker is unidentified. Poor Das keeps valiantly and politely wading into the online crapstorms, only to be followed up by anonymous post after anonymous post attacking his character. Why do people deserve a forum to attack people anonymously? Of course, they have the –right- to, but is it a good thing for the polity? We don’t have to do everything that the internet makes possible.
Any Santa Barbarans or Blogabarbarans care to weigh in?