Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Anonymity



In response to the comments made by Mayor Correia on WSAR during Ric Oliveira's program 12/24/08 and to the anonymous commenter(s) who, ironically, post comments disparaging my choice to remain anonymous, I offer a brief history of anonymous writers. I understand Correia was a teacher in a previous life. Whether a teacher of history, or even just a student of it, critics of the anonymity of blogging should be very aware of the abundant number of anonymous publications, and the reasons behind them, throughout history. The history of anonymous expression in political dissent is both long and with important effect in human history

The Federalist Papers – Written in anonymity in the late 1700’s by James Madison (prior to becoming the fourth president of the United States), John Jay (subsequently the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States), and Alexander Hamilton (who later became the first Secretary of the Treasury), the Federalist Papers were our founding fathers attempt to promote the ratification of the Constitution. They argued, under the cloak of anonymity and safety that the existing government was defective and that the proposed Constitution would remedy its weaknesses without endangering the liberties of the people.

Common Sense – In 1776, an anonymous pamphlet called Common Sense was published and sold for two shillings. The 47-page pamphlet, advocated America’s independence from Britain and the King, and quickly became a sensation. Written at the outset of the Revolution, Common Sense became the spark for change. It stirred the colonists to strengthen their resolve, resulting in the first successful anticolonial action in modern history. Historians have described Common Sense as the most incendiary and popular pamphlet of the entire revolutionary era, and it was authored anonymously.

Other anonymous writings that offer political criticism include, the Letters of Junius, the pasquinades, and Imperial Hubris to name a few.

In modern litigation regarding the anonymity of political critics, courts have likened anonymous political speech on the Internet to the anonymous political pamphlets handed out during the Revolutionary War era. John Doe v. Cahill (2005). "Anonymous pamphlets, leaflets, brochures and even books have played an important role in the progress of mankind." Talley v. California (1960). "Great works of literature have frequently been produced by authors writing under assumed names. Despite readers' curiosity and the public's interest in identifying the creator of a work of art, an author generally is free to decide whether or not to disclose her true identity. The decision in favor of anonymity may be motivated by fear of economic or official retaliation, by concern about social ostracism, or merely by a desire to preserve as much of one's privacy as possible." McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Comm'n (1995).

I don't need to put my name on the line as Correia indicates because facts are facts. My name on facts doesn't make them more true it just allows people to find me and possibly retaliate.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was dissapointed when i heard that discussion.
When caled on it Ric admitted he should have pushed correia on his dislike of anonymity saying he did not agree with him... and kicked himself after for not being harder on him...

Anonymous said...

I heard that discussion too, where someone called him on it. It sounded like someone was at the glass waving at him, then he said "Hi how are you," seemed to cut the caller off (because it went to dial tone), and then went straight to commercial.

No more discussion of blogs that I have heard since.

Sound suspicious?

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Shamrock.
The Mayor and his thugs have pulled a number of unethical maneuevers, anonymous by virtue of the fact that they have not been made public-----yet. These blogs are a means to "smoke them and their manuevers out," as we have seen, without the fear of retaliation.
Blogs are also a means of keeping them "in check" and accountable; the more the public relies on blogs, the better our local governance and community will be.
It is incumbent on all of us, however, that we stick to the facts, so they withstand the "spin"
and shellgames played by these individuals. In turn, blogging will continue to gain credibility and be relied upon as a viable source of information for the public.
God knows we all need as much help as we can get, in Fall River.

puck said...

Shamrock’s points are well-made about the value and necessity of his blogging anonymously. (I sense, too, that Correia is, of course, still confusing bloggers with those who comment on blogs and Herald News articles).

The concept of people—whether Correia underlings or ordinary citizens—being able to "speak truth to power” without fear of retribution is heresy in this city: there are only two reasons he and his radio minions call for lifting the cloak of secrecy—to punish and to silence. This is a very vindictive mayor who does not brook dissension.

Shamrock, your references to the use of anonymity in our own country’s history are powerful justification for its continued use. Remember Salmon Rushdie? He did not write anonymously, thus lived many years under threat of death by the Ayatollah Khomeini.

Correia is far too insecure and ignorant to recognize that giving consideration to views that differ from his own can actually help him become a better leader.

Ironically, what he also fails to see is that he—while on his dictatorial power trip—has himself created the need for anonymity.

Stay safe, stay guarded, Shamrock. And keep up the great work. We need you!

Anonymous said...

the irony is of course that Ric is a internet guru, coming up with lots of stuff you can not get anywhere else. I have also heard him defend the local bloggers, saying they provide a super service and i have heard him criticize them for being filled with such hate.
On that day, it seemed he was not prepared for the mayor coming in as he started if off by saying something like, this is barry time and he had the mayor scheduled and the mayor watn sto talk about snow. he was somewhat sarcastic. Sometimes i think with Ric, and i think it is really ahrd to figure him out, it is what he does nto say or the sarcasm in his voice that says the most. What i foudn histerical was that he played that ode to fallr iver with the mayor right there even though it picks on him a bit... i would have loved to see the mayor's face on that one.

Anonymous said...

I don't listen to wsar so this was an interesting interview, more interesting was the invitation to the bloggers to go on wsar a fews days later via a blog post.

Perhaps they should invite the quasi-anomonymous letter writers that send in letters to the herald news. You know the ones that use their initials to mislead who they really are.

I can understand the mayor saying he would not act on an anonymous letter that he received at govt ctr.

But he should act on the signed letters from future mayoral candidates, superintendants,
chambers of commerce, appeals t a stormwater fee and 9000 voters that sign their names to petitions.

So does it really matter that a name is signed ?? No, only for retaliation and to squelch freedom of speech.

Anonymous said...

Oh and I forgot the signed letters from veterans relatives, did he act on that???

Anonymous said...

Hi,
as far as the blogs, I was informed that an interview I had performed with the mayor has raised some eyebrows. And yes I let something slip which I ordinarily would have challenged.(i was too busy tryng to call up my stupid song when he commented on his views of the blogs.)
There are times when you just simply do not do as good a job as possible. And yes I was filling in for Barry and the interview had been scheduled for Barry and I was not as prepared as I would like to be.
That said, my view is that as someone who monitors news, the blogs whether they are anonymous or not, are super important.
And while the mayor has the right to not act on anonymous information, that would be the wrong policy for news seekers to live by. Imagine if the Washington post ignored Deep Throat, or as pointed out the federalist papers were not shielded. I have on several instances gleened story ideas from the blogs. On dozens if not hundreds of occasions as a reporter, learned of huge stories from anonymous callers and sources.
But again a blog is only as good as its administrator and at times those who choose to comment. Rarely do the personal attacks do anything other than make for entertainment and exacting vendettas (seemingly even for things done in high school) and as most would agree, do very little to further the development or progress of our city. And while I generaly do not respond to the blogs, and am happy to be ignored by them, I thought it was important to admit my lack of rebuttal and encourage those who have enriched us all to continue but be mindful of not letting it all slip away into mindless madness. To lefty, shamrock and the others, the more news you dig up the better for all of us. And rest assured, I will give credit where it should be given even if it is to an anonymous blogger. Happy New Year!

Ric Oliveira

Anonymous said...

Ric,

Thanks for your support of the local blogging community.

The interview with the Mayor was good because it pointed out that the blogs were wrong about all the transferred costs (insurance + stormwater fee) that went to the School Department.

Readers should be skeptical whenever they read anything, especially when it is anonymous. However, that doesn't mean that anonymous writings aren't accurate.

Blogging is a part-time hobby, as such, it lends itself to sometimes not providing accurate information as bloggers deal with work and families. However, now that is has been made clear (Budget, Page 14) that the city provided the School Department with the funds for the transferred costs, I don't think the bloggers are going to continue to make the assertion that the school budget was grossly underfunded (although it was cut nearly $4 million).

In essense, that's why the blogs have the ability to allow people to comment. If the blogs get a "fact" wrong, call them out on it! It's part of the process of discourse.

On the Miller/McGovern issue, Mayor Correia had repeatedly stated that the plaque was hidden under the welcome sign and the overgrown shrubs. The pictures on this and other blogs show otherwise.


WSAR should be reminded that its entire programming is based on Anonymity. Unless I am severely out of the loop, WSAR has not established a standard that all its callers are required to reveal their names and addresses in order comment.

shamrock said...

Thanks Ric! Your input is appreciated. I really enjoy your show and didn't mean to put you in the hot seat over this. I was focusing more on what Correia said in this clip rather than your response to it. I was surprised by Correia's rant about anonymity and it may have taken you by surprise too.

Anonymous said...

Child abuse is a form of abuse of power (although more repugnant with the vulnerability and helplessness of a child). State law allows for the reporting of child abuse, via anomynity, to avoid fear of retaliation.

Blogging does the same...it allows for the discussion and reporting of abuse of power, without the fear of retaliation.

Those in power, who abuse it as such, watch your backs---the bloggers are watching you.

Anonymous said...

You gotta be kidding me anon. The school budget was cut short by this mayor's admin of --yes--nearly 4 million Not a big deal, why the downplay?? I guess 4million is not grossly understtaed in your house! Can you spare a dime brotha?

Anonymous said...

Anon 17:59,

The point that was being made was that cutting the $4 million, but paying for the transferred costs is better than cutting the $4 million and not paying the transferred costs.

In the first scenario there is a net loss of $4 million, the +/- of the transfers balance out. The second scenario is a $4 million loss in addition to extra expenses - that's the distinction between underfunded and grossly underfunded.

That being said, WSAR has anonymous callers, the Herald News has anonymous comments, so I don't see why there is such an emphasis of concern about the anonymity of bloggers.

Tom Paine said...

At first, very briefly, was there a question to whom authored Common Sense. But, rather quickly I admitted to it and received accolades, not only from the 13 colonies, but abroad.

Your humble servant

Thomas Paine

Tom Paine said...

By the way Shamrock, you are 100% right. Over the years many have chosen to remain anonymous, mostly to keep their skin intact.

Today, it is stay free of retribution. Some pols can be very vendictive.

Anonymous said...

After seeing what the Mayor and his cohorts did to the reputations of the former Fire Chief, former Mayor, and former Superintendent, I can sympathize with the bloggers on their desire to maintain their anonymity.

Anonymous said...

The whole point of the layoffs in June were so you could reduce the budget. It wouldn't make sense to layoff the people and keep funding the positions. Of course the budget went down!

FRVMAN02 said...

Bob Correia has got to get over himself and I will be more than happy to help him by voting him out of office . Poor Mayor cannot control the internet and it is driving him nuts .

Anonymous said...

The heat is on in the "underground movement"

Anonymous said...

It's hard to punish and silence people when you don't know who they are, where they live, where they work, etc. Let's be honest, that is what is really driving Correia, Karam, Hurricane, all of them crazy. Facts are facts though. If it is a fact that someone put up a memorial on land that was already dedicated to a veteran then whether or not we know the identity of the person who first raised the issue does it make the fact any less true? They want to know who called them out so that they can try to make sure that person doesn't speak out again, don't play their game.

Anonymous said...

We have to do something as well about the two schools that were named unilaterally by the mayor within the blink of an eye by the school committee. Can anything be done? What would it take to rescind those votes and set up a search committee to decide the names and whether they schould have been changed at all?

shamrock said...

The vote to rename the schools was done illegally, in violation of open meetings laws. The renaming issue was never on the agenda for the committee meeting which is required pursuant to open meeting laws. If someone wanted to fight the renaming, that is the way I would go....

Anonymous said...

and there was already a prescedent set in past commitee meetings where it was on the agenda or open to public discussion.

Anonymous said...

Correia invented this practice of not following the agenda, and no one on the committee questions him! I agree, the way the re-naming of the schools happened was an embarrassment. The members of the school committee should be ashamed of themselves. But instead of questioning the process, they show up for a photo op at the dedications. I understand that the naming of the Silvia School did have quite an extensive process complete with family involvement and historical papers. So Ralph Small does not have any historical significance to this city anymore. History is already history, Bob Correia is trying to change history and people are letting him.

Anonymous said...

It's all he knows, shady sneaky politics from his years in Boston...favors, fingerpointing, lies, but now we have it right in our own backyard. He is one person, we cannot let him obliterate this city! The renaming of the schools should be challenged. By the way, strange that the school committee voted unanimously to "agree with the mayah"...is it really wise to name a public building, particularly a school after a chronic shoplifter???

Anonymous said...

Blogging is a quick and easy way to get accurate, unfiltered information out to the public. Information that otherwise may never see the light of day.
If the mayor has a problem with bloggers, some like myself have also written articles to the Herald News that are not anonymous. If you can't handle the truth find a new line of work.

Anonymous said...

I just stumbled on this old article, interesting the city
council phone calls are public
information. This could be interesting to request again.



http://www.heraldnews.com/archive/x1126219304

City discloses councilors' detailed cell phone records

Fall River — Veteran city councilors Leo O. Pelletier and Patricia A. Casey have spent between $27 and $37 a month on their city-issued cell phones during the past three months, according to phone records city officials supplied.
On the nine-member council, Pelletier and Casey have regularly used the available cell phones, while three other councilors recently requested cell phones, long-time Councilor Thomas F. Kozak and newly elected councilors Steven A. Camara and Michael B. Lund.
None of the six School Committee members use city-issued cell phones, according to the School Department.
The Herald News requested the past three months of accounts, which are public record, as a regular check of expenditures during March’s “Sunshine Week.”
Corporation Council Arthur D. Frank said he was supplying the records after consulting with the secretary of state’s office.
Frank said that while no state policy exists on what can be withheld, certain “privileged” phone calls could be redacted from the records before making them public.
An example he gave was if the municipal official called a family member who has an unlisted number. That number could be blackened out, Frank said. He said there’s a process via the secretary of state’s office to appeal whether a number was legitimately redacted.
Frank said he directed that the five city councilors be contacted and given the opportunity to review their phone records prior to copies being released.
All of the calls made by the city councilors were provided on the monthly billing statements. None were redacted.
Each of the councilors are signed up for Verizon’s America’s Choice II Business lines, either the $34.99 or $44.99 package, allowing 200 and 450 monthly minutes, respectively.
There were no added billable minute costs on any of the monthly bills because the city has a shared plan allowing overages to be shared with other phone lines, several councilors said. The package allows unlimited incoming calls, which were also itemized.
Pelletier’s cell phone bills for December, January and February were $27.30, $36.16 and $31.14, including $6.65 deducted monthly as a 19 percent access discount. His number is 508-320-9571 .
Casey’s monthly bills were $35.55, $36.16 and $33.64, which reflect several voice/data charges and 10 directory assistance calls over the three months. Her number is 508-320-9569 .
Discussing city-issued cell phones, Casey said citizens make calls about city business to her work and home. One councilor asked why The Herald News was requesting the cell phone records and was told there would be a story.
Camara and Lund set up their accounts on Jan. 15, costing $210.07 in start-up fees ($107.42), activation ($35) and nearly two months of advanced billing ($67, with access discounts).
In the first month through Feb. 10, Lund had made only and received just 11 minutes of calls. His number is 774-319-2519 . Camara had several hundred minutes. His number is 508-675-8683 .
Kozak said he signed up after Camara and Lund did, and his one month statement only shows $28.64 for nearly one month of access charges. Kozak said he’s using a used city cell phone from the mayor’s office. His number is 774-488-6835 .
Another councilor, Linda M. Pereira, said she did not want a city cell phone because she already has cell phones for home and work.
Ines Leite, spokeswoman for Mayor Robert Correia, said cell phone billing records are reviewed through the office of John Niewola, information systems director.
She said he reminds councilors 411 information calls cost $1.25 each to make and should be avoided when possible.
She provided the detailed phone records two days after they were requested.

Anonymous said...

Wonder how many calls to/from veterans groups and mcgoverns restaurant and the mayor are listed on caseys phone bill.

Does the mayor have a city cell phone???

Anonymous said...

The mayor does not use a city cell phone, because then his contacts would be public record. These blogs are getting to wsar as they are commented on way to often!! the mayor drives his own car not because he wants to save the city money his car is much nicer. We must stay anonymous because this mayor is vindictive. He will get to you some way or another! Keep up the good work guys.

Anonymous said...

But again a blog is only as good as its administrator and at times those who choose to comment. Rarely do the personal attacks do anything other than make for entertainment and exacting vendettas (seemingly even for things done in high school) and as most would agree, do very little to further the development or progress of our city. And while I generaly do not respond to the blogs, and am happy to be ignored by them, I thought it was important to admit my lack of rebuttal and encourage those who have enriched us all to continue but be mindful of not letting it all slip away into mindless madness. To lefty, shamrock and the others, the more news you dig up the better for all of us. And rest assured, I will give credit where it should be given even if it is to an anonymous blogger. Happy New Year!



puff. puff. pass.