Anonymity is not always the best policy

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 29, 2002

A few years ago a company developed and began marketing a game called "Scruples."

The game's intent was to quiz players on hypothetical situations as way of sparking controversy and discussion. Some of the questions followed this line of thinking: Would you do (insert potentially unscrupulous act here)? What if no one knew?

Somehow, for some people, anonymity attached to an act makes it more palatable. Would you steal money? What if no one would ever find out?

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All are interesting questions that are sure to spark debate at a party. Some people would say, "Well, what they don't know won't hurt them."

Sounds good, doesn't it.

But in practice such diversionary tactics hardly make up for good old-fashioned accountability. The reality of life is: We should all be accountable for our acts. And that goes for our opinions, too.

For that reason, The Tribune has discontinued the Sound Off feature. Sound Off allowed people to call in and anonymously offer opinions on anything and everything.

Printing residents' opinions is exactly the purpose of the editorial page of your newspaper. The problem comes in with the lack of accountability features such as Sound Off encourage.

How do we know the folks calling in Sound Off live in this community?

How do we know many of the calls are not coming from a small group of people who keep calling to complain about the same issues over and over?

Unfortunately, the answer to those questions is: we do not.

We will keep the former Sound Off telephone line open and use it as a news tip line. If you have something you believe is newsworthy, please call us and let us know about it. Your opinions are valuable to us.

This page is for our readers. From letters to the editor to guest columns, we will publish other opinions -- whether we personally believe in them or not. In fact, we encourage people to become involved and speak their minds. The only scruple we have is that we know the source of the opinions -- and that's no game. Kevin Cooper/The Ironton Tribune