Blogs » J.Q. Tomanek of Victoria » A Tuesday Discussion: Freedom of Speech and Anonymity


Nota bene: This is an attempt of constructive dialogue. My goal is shed light on an issue I have been considering, offer some thoughts, and encourage dialogue.

Some thoughts on a past post on anonymity:

I am going to start off with a caveat. Using an alias or hilarious username and the reason for doing so has already been discussed and established. I appreciate the various reasons for using an alias. I am going to go a step further now.

It seems obvious that the ability to use a fictitious name does allow you the ability to write what you like. You are protected by the name. But I don’t know if I would go so far as to say it is “freedom of speech.”

I think “freedom of speech” assumes that a person ought to be able to speak freely without fearing retribution. Of course there is not any fear of retribution when you use an unreal name, but it is not because of freedom but rather because of anonymity. This means that fear exists that something negative may happen because of what you say. Is this freedom? I would suggest that both need both, no fear of retribution and no anonymity, to be present to have “free speech.”

There is always a choice to be anonymous, I would not take this freedom away; however, I am wondering how free we are if we must use an alias. In this part of Texas, we often hear how we think the State is taking away our freedoms. On some things, I find this attitude right: legalizing abortion took away the right to life, inability to choose which school your child will attend, etc. However, seldom do we hear how business can take away freedoms as well. This may be the case in regards to being anonymous in public. If we are seeking true freedom, then does having to be anonymous show that we are not there yet? The founding fathers wrote over 200 years ago in regards to different freedoms, how far have we made it in freedom of speech if online anonymity is par?

If we are not there yet, then work needs to be done so that there can be true freedom of speech. Any thoughts, suggestions, or ideas?

One of my first thoughts regarding this issue is, “Does the Bill of Rights limit the powers of just the federal government or are they meant to guide the rest of life outside of direct government affairs?” For example, “Maybe the freedom of speech amendment should not be sought in market place?” The freedom of speech is protected by the government, should it be protected in job? In business?

Anyways, this is just some thoughts I have been pondering and put it out there for discussion for those interested.