January 1, 2014

Regarding the Dec. 28 news article “Web sites try to clean up cesspool of online comments ,” consider Publius and Brutus. 

The former is the pseudonym under which the Federalist Papers were published. The latter is the pseudonym under which some of the anti-federalist papers were published. Writing anonymously has a deep and rich history in this country. Indeed, Founding Father Benjamin Franklin used the pseudonym “Silence Dogood” in writing to New England newspapers. 

This history is now threatened as the Internet seeks to clean up its act. Admittedly, many vile things can be said while hiding behind the shield that anonymity provides, but there is hardly a slur that has been invented in the past 50 years, much less in the centuries since we declared independence. Bad language has a much deeper history than that.

It is better to let people hurl bad language — and stand up for freedom of speech — than not. 

Darryl W. Jackson, Washington