The Online Commentariat

Fri, Aug 1, 2014, 01:35

Sir, – You rightly require all those writing to your Letters page to provide a full name and address, plus a contact phone number for verification purposes. It is nice to know that those expressing views therein are prepared publicly to stand over their opinions.

On the other hand, you permit anonymity to those who wish to comment online on the writings of your columnists. I have heard it argued that this is a good thing, allowing readers a private voice where they might be otherwise reluctant to speak out for fear of adverse reaction, that their forthright views might lead to repercussions, perhaps in the workplace.

Alas, a perusal of your commentariat’s contributions will reveal a startling lack of revolutionary writing or radical thinking. None of your online correspondents has ever submitted anything that should cause them to fear the banging on their door at 4am of the Thought Police. On the contrary, anonymity seems to foster banality. It encourages those among us who confuse cynicism with sophistication, who shout from the darkened back of the hall in a feigned accent.

Michael Harding, for instance, has attracted the attentions of a couple of nasty ankle-biters who, from the long grasses of anonymity, sneer asides that are irrelevant to the subject before scurrying off to self-satisfied smugtown.

Apart from the fact that such sniping must dishearten your columnists (though I hope they have the good sense not to read these faceless interjections) it is typical of everything that is wrong in this country: griping and groaning on the bus and in the pub, nodding with a smile when the server asks “was everything OK with your meal?” You should scrap this shoddy forum for cowards. Yours, etc,

LIAM STENSON,

Knocknacarra,

Galway

Sir, – The exchanges between members of the Irish Times online commentariat are not always unbecoming. In the comments under Vincent Twomey’s opinion piece (“What’s wrong with the proposed mother and babies home commission”, July 29th), a Margo_Sweetbread addressed a fellow debater as “sir”, while disagreeing vehemently with his views. – Yours, etc,

JOHN O’BYRNE,

Mount Argus Court,

Dublin 6W