Anonymous commenters the bane of our society
Several years ago, The Royal Gazette made the decision to do away with anonymous Letters to the Editor. This letter is to request that The Royal Gazette should seriously consider also removing the “cloak of anonymity” from its online commenters.
Commenting by one’s own name does not deprive one of their freedom of speech; nor does it stop any commenter from “holding the Government to account”, as some claim. What it does do is encourage persons to be true to their word, to have no fear about what they believe, what they endorse or what they suggest.
We know that there are many challenges to overcome in Bermuda at this time, but bold, disrespectful, disparaging and racist responses to Royal Gazette news and articles need to be accompanied by the name of their “bold” writer.
Anonymous commenters are infecting the online pages of The Royal Gazette because they do not have to assume any responsibility for what they submit. The venom that is spewed daily is harmful to our people and our island. The overwhelming number of comments are negatively presented, full of exaggerations, falsehoods and hopelessness.
The anonymous comments tend to be blatantly anti- Bermudian, anti-Black and antigovernment sentiment — in particular against the present government. Regardless of topic, the regular pseudo-named commenters turn any article into an opportunity for a hateful assault on our people and our home. It makes one question the purpose.
Under their cloaks of anonymity and with coded language that is not as coded as they think, anonymous commenters openly and publicly refer to certain Bermudians as ignorant, empty-headed followers who are incapable of logical thinking or decision-making, are criminal, uneducated and degenerate. They know who their coded language is directed towards because those terms often follow articles such as those about a Progressive Labour Party government initiative or announcement, our public schools, any historically Black institutions or events, any Black leader, our social challenges or anyone who wishes to make a statement contrary to theirs.
Why would we not want to know the names of they who know it all, they who could do a better job than any elected leader and they who consider themselves models of perfection?
Antigovernment sentiments fill the online comments section, even not related to the article topic. Recent positive articles about lilies to the Queen, a warning about online scams, a peace message, a forgiveness message, the Premier’s wife delivering flowers to the elderly and a club peace initiative turned into a rampage against the Government.
Today’s articles (April 18, 2022) brought out the haters early. Before many eyes were open, there were tantrums because of an announcement of ferry limitations, monies being directed for patients receiving overseas treatment, Horseshoe Bay concessions moving ahead positively — even an attempt to insult a new owner regarding his surname — our young men, continuing protocols regarding Covid and the Bermuda Tourism Authority looking forward to a promising tourism season (to include insults to the new BTA chief executive).
Commenters turn good news into bad news. In contrast, very, very few of the regulars have a congratulatory thought regarding such as our recent successful athletics event, newer and larger cruise ships visiting, our youth performance at the Carifta Games in Jamaica and Barbados or our women’s hockey team qualifying for the CAC Games. A credible commenter would give time for positive comments on positive stories and even give credit where and when credit is due, but with these lot it’s “damned if you do” and “damned if you don’t”.
The loud noise of the anonymous negativity and the intentional pessimism of the overwhelmingly adverse and false-named commenters is causing more damage to this island than anything else could. Those comments float abroad to potential tourists and investors. They must think, what an awful place Bermuda is: so much division, so much disdain, so much antigovernment sentiment, so much negativity, so much hopelessness, so much racism.
Our anonymous regular commenters, hiding under their cloaks, are telling the world that Bermuda is too much of a risk or are providing them with a false and possibly discriminatory opinion of us.
Using one’s own name in writing a Letter to the Editor or an op-ed, no matter the topic, has not hurt contributions, readership or the level of discourse. It does not take away anyone’s privilege of expressing themselves. It doesn’t stop anyone from complaining or expressing displeasure wherever they legitimately find it. Using one’s own name, encourages responsibility, credibility, much needed integrity and trust.