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General News · 7th June 2010
John Mottishaw
Opinion: No to anonymous hate-speech

As a full time resident of Cortes Island in the 1970s and a part time resident and property owner since then, I was delighted to be part of the democratic process of deciding on the possibility of taxation for the benefit of our community halls Monday, May 31 at Manson’s Hall. I saw this public meeting as a show of the will of the people of our island. All sides of the issue were aired including a healthy opposition. I was also encouraged by the strong dedication of a new generation of volunteers willing to stand for and continue on the directorship.

Then, on Friday I read an anonymous opinion piece (a schoolhouse mouse) in the Cortes Marketer, which is distributed to every mailbox on Cortes and also placed on Tidelines, Cortes Island’s main web site, which is seen by people around the world.

I found this piece disturbing. It was dismissive of the efforts of our community hall’s volunteer board of directors. Even though the writer named no names, the article belittled individuals who are clearly identifiable to those who attended the meeting and it made fun of an earnest effort to solve our community hall’s financial problems. I can only imagine the feelings that the insults in this article caused many people who put in great effort to make our community work.

I do not know of any reputable publication that prints unsigned opinions. There are those who say that the right to publish anonymously protects the rights of those with dissenting opinions. I argue that the rights and efforts of hard working volunteers are being dismissed and disrespected, and anonymous opinions cut off meaningful dialog.

I feel that the policy of allowing anonymous opinions in the Cortes Marketer has been and can be destructive of our good community. I respectfully submit that requiring that the publication of the real name of the writer of an opinion would go a long way toward stopping the kind of hate-speech that I read in last Friday’s Cortes Marketer.

Signed: John Mottishaw

(Word count: 346)
ad hominem attacks vs. freedom of speech
Comment by Steve Remedios on 13th June 2010
Beyond the issue of user identity, it seems to me that the real issue is how responsible publishers are for personal attacks in their publications while preserving free speech rights. The Tideline and the Marketer have 2 very different takes on this issue.

For an informative recent story on this issue, check out the "Fair Comment" piece on the recent CBC "Spark" radio show:

Cheers and play nice!
Comment by N. Stewart on 13th June 2010
I find your piece disturbing. It is simplistic and inspires hate itself, as seen by the numerous comments that have jumped on the band wagon with you.
Well said, John
Comment by Carole Thacker on 12th June 2010
I agree, John. Thank you for saying it.
I agree STRONGLY!!!
Comment by Kirsten Vidulich on 12th June 2010
Not only is submitting unsigned degrading, bitter opinion divisive, but it is cowardly.

Opinion-a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.
Remember that the word published does not become fact, rather remains an opinion, and a damaging one at that. Perhaps publication could be devoted to useful fact rather than damaging fiction.

Thanks for the words of reason
Comment by Paola on 10th June 2010
Thank you John for a voice of reason, well said! And thanks to Richard for stating the policy on publication for the Tideline so clearly. Anonymous comments are an outward sign of insecurity and cowardice. For a community like Cortes that depends heavily on volunteerism and positive social action, there should be no tolerance for such attacks on people that give generously of their time and talents for the benefit of all.

Paola Filippin
aka not a school house mouse
I agree whole heartedly!
Comment by Lovena on 10th June 2010
Yes, yes, yes.
How can we as a community make this happen?
good thinking john
Comment by king solar on 10th June 2010
yes it is time for things to move forward in a positive direction, these type of of anonymous messages need to be owned up to. and i'm sure just like me lots of good people do not want any part of the political process on cortes just from the sheer negativity we read.
Thank you, John
Comment by Dianne Hentschel on 9th June 2010
Thanks John and all those who commented

We no longer take the Marketer home.

Recently it has been hard to separate notices with information about coming events from malicious personal attacks on community volunteers. We look for information and opinion on the Tideline where policy states that people sign their names.

thank you
Comment by fawn baron & John Preston on 9th June 2010
We agree with and are grateful to Mr Mottishaw for his opinion piece .We find unattributed negative comments in any local publications to be corrosive to the integrity and well being of our community no matter which side of an issue they espouse..It is much easier to divide and harm than to unify and heal .Where is the honour and the courage of conviction in an unsigned statement? Please may we see no more of them dignified by print.
Hoping for a Change in Policy
Comment by Sherry Sprungman on 9th June 2010
Freedom of speech is one thing, demeaning people is another. Respectful dialogue is what we need and it doesn't seem to be helped much by anonymous commentary.
Thank you John Mottishaw
Comment by Catharine Bushe on 9th June 2010
A large thank you to John Mottishaw and all the people who have supported his article. Those who snipe and make disparaging and often untrue remarks and then hide behind anonymity are beneath contempt. Perhaps if they came out to help more in the community they might have a different perspective on what is involved and therefore be less inclined to criticize those who actually do the volunteer work.
I agree with John
Comment by Pat Swift on 8th June 2010
Writing anonymously allows one the "privilege" of being glib, sarcastic and nasty.

If one feels strongly enough about an issue, one should have the decency to stand behind, and up to, one's comments.
member of the WCC
Comment by Mae Sherwood on 8th June 2010
I totally agree with John Mottishaw. I think the anonymouse comments are cowardly and vile. They have no idea of the work that is involved in running the Clubs. If they think it's a piece of cake, let them get involved and and take the load off the hard working volunteers that they have maligned... but that would be too much work!
Another Thank you
Comment by Peter Jackel 6315 on 8th June 2010
Thanks, John. Well-written, concise and right on.

I also know of no reputable publication that would print this kind of anonymous, spiteful attack. The author is behaving cowardly and mean-spiritedly.

I've read thousands of detective stories and fictional detectives when investigating crime in small communities considered poison-pen letters to be the worst crime. It is like pouring poison into a community well and then standing around innocently when people suffer and wonder who would do such an act.

Bertha, you need to rethink your policy. You are abetting moral crimes when you allow hate pieces to be published without a name attached to them. I know you are a better person than that.
Thank You
Comment by Cali Waddell on 8th June 2010
Thank you to John Mottishaw for a very well written opinion that I agree with completely, also thanks to Richard Trueman for publishing this.
Cali Waddell
I say no to anonymous opinion pieces
Comment by Gail Ringwood on 8th June 2010
People who wish to have their thoughts and opinions published in what is serving this community as a newsletter would be more responsible if their name was in print at the end of their article.
Well Said!
Comment by Steve Ringwood on 8th June 2010
I agree with you, John.
Anonymous postings are
cowardly and should be dismissed
as trash.
Absolutely Right, John!
Comment by Peter Henbury on 8th June 2010
Allowing people to hide behind a cloak of anonymity promotes cheap shots and the irresponsible telling of lies and half-truths. It has been a deeply divisive factor in this recent discussion of tax-based support of community halls. Time to change The Marketer’s editorial policy!
No to anonymous hate speech
Comment by Diana Manson on 8th June 2010
Than you so much....well said!
I agree
Comment by Mary Clare Preston on 8th June 2010
Sad to say, I no longer look forward to the little tidbits of news and info in the Marketer.
Right On, John Mottishaw
Comment by Bill Wheeler on 8th June 2010
Well said, I agree.
Bill Wheeler, 6384